Providing Ultimate Process Traceability
When liquors and spirits are stored and aged in barrels, alcohol is lost as part of the process. Monitoring those losses is required, but labor-intensive. Changing from a manual process to an automated weighing and filling system can increase productivity and improve traceability.
Spanish distillery Bardinet, S.A. has been manufacturing alcoholic beverages since 1857. Through its emblematic Negrita brand, it became a worldwide symbol for traditional rum. From its beginnings, it has focused on the creative blending, aging and preparation of rums from different parts of the Caribbean.
Manual process control
Since its inception, the distillery used a manual process to observe the effective alcohol content in the rum and to monitor the stock. This track-and-trace work became a considerable administrative feat. In addition, the customs administration requires documented evidence of any alcohol losses during the period of aging, which cannot exceed three percent annually.
Under the old system, entire batches of several barrels had to be emptied. It takes weeks to refill them, resulting in dried-out barrels and small liquid losses. A new system solves that problem and speeds up the production process.
Gapless batch traceability
In collaboration with METTLER TOLEDO and an external engineering firm e21 DESING TECHNOLOGIES S.L., a bespoke solution was created to meet Bardinet’s requirements. The new system comprises an automatic-weighing system, enabling barrels to be filled and emptied at two different stations. A series of motorized roller conveyors operate as a scale, both for full and empty barrels. Two additional roller conveyors load and unload pallets of barrels. The Task Expert software within the IND560x weighing terminal enables the company to check pallets loaded with six barrels.
Each weighing station is equipped with barcode readers. At the unloading station, once the six barrels from each pallet have been emptied, the batch is closed. Each pallet can be recognized with a specific barcode. With the help of barcode readers, pallet-specific weighing data, including date and time of each batch, are stored to ensure traceability. The installation is suitable for the ATEX zone for handling alcoholic beverages.
The solution consists of two IND560x terminals connected to MultiMount™ weigh modules on the motorized roller conveyors. Each weighing terminal is connected via Ethernet TCP/IP to the computer-control system, collecting data in real time. The terminal communicates simultaneously with a PLC that manages the barrel positioning during product loading and emptying.
Improved process control
Automating the process has enabled the company to achieve better control over product reductions. The reduction losses are now easily monitored via the computer program. The complete time for emptying and refilling the rum barrels has been significantly reduced and the quality of the beverages has improved.
Article from the METTLER TOLEDO Dairy & Beverages Newsletter 18