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Automated Temperature Monitoring in a Macrobrewery

CAS DataLoggers Provides High-Accuracy Wireless Technology

CAS DataLoggers recently supplied an automated data logging system to a brewery mass-producing American lager. As its top priority, the brewery wanted to monitor its fermentation process in greater detail to further ensure their brand’s consistent flavor before the beer is cold-filtered and bottled. To achieve this, the lager should be kept at 50°F (10°C), within an acceptable deviation of only 5°F (3°C) through the fermentation process prior to being stored at just below freezing. The beer is kept in 3 large stainless steel fermenters in a wide-open room. Management wanted a wireless system since it would be too time-consuming to get a network drop in the room, and for quality assurance they wanted to send the temperature data to offices located in the building and in remote locations. Since beer quality can vary with minimal differences in temperature, thermocouple sensors wouldn’t be accurate enough for this application—high-precision accuracy was needed.

The brewery installed a T&D RTR-500NW Wireless Data Logger Network Base Station onto the wall nearest the main entry using the optional bracket. 3 T&D RTR-505-Pt-Wireless RTD Data Loggers were then affixed, one to the side of each fermenter, with Velcro adhesive. CAS DataLoggers also provided the brewery with 3 waterproof stainless steel RTD sensors. These RTDs were placed directly inside the fermenters to record high-precision measurements, being more stable and accurate than thermocouples.

During the process, the temperature data loggers record each fermenter’s temperature within a measuring range of -199°C to 650°C (-326°F to 1202°F). Current readings are shown on their LCD displays in either Fahrenheit or Celcius. The loggers’ rugged, compact design and water-resistant cases protected them from the occasional splash and rough handling. Wireless communication between the data loggers and the base station ranges out to 500 feet unobstructed (150 meters).

Each data logger stores readings on its large 16,000-point memory to capture a detailed temperature profile and then wirelessly sends its data to the base station which automatically collects it over the building’s LAN network. This setup is especially convenient since all settings changes can be made remotely over the network without anyone having to travel to the base station or configure the temperature monitors in person. Each unit has a battery life of about 10 months with an option to upgrade to a battery pack enabling about 4 years of operation.

Beyond just downloading the recordings, the wireless base station periodically sends the data over the network every few hours via email. The wireless base station also continually monitors the loggers’ temperature data in real time for any temperature deviation more than 5°F (3°C) from the 50°F benchmark. When it sees one, the base station immediately sends warning reports to specified email addresses and text messages to supervisors’ mobile devices. This way, any significant temperature deviation is immediately spotted so that workers can quickly take measures to stabilize the temperature.

Using a web browser, staff and management view and share the data via T&D’s free online WebStorage storage service anytime. The data loggers also include free software which makes it easy for staff to adjust the wireless and network communication settings.

Using its new wireless system, the brewery’s fermentation process is now automated and equipped with high accuracy sensors, remote data transmission and alarming capability. Now the T&D dataloggers provide wireless monitoring of each fermenter’s internal temperature, with their water-resistant design providing reliable and durable operation. In this way, management is always kept appraised of the process temperature via the wireless network and WebStorage service. The base station’s alarms allow staff to respond to temperature anomalies quickly enough to save labor and costs previously incurred from rejected product.

A technician in the brewery commented on T&D’s ease of use: “The sensors are very reliable and the system watches the data for us. Now everything is saved on the loggers and online which is good for seeing when and how alarms typically happen.”