Tradition and modernity united – The digital age has arrived at the Erzquell Brewery

Tradition and modernity united – The digital age has arrived at the Erzquell Brewery

The fermentation cellar modernization in the Erzquell Brauerei Haas & Co. KG in Bielstein in the Bergisches Land region was a long planned investment. In the project it was necessary to analyze the grown structures of automation and to develop and implement a suitable concept, but also to find a partner who could deliver everything from one source.

On September 5, 1900, the first beer of the Adler-Brauerei GmbH, as it was then called, left the brewhouse in Bielstein. 15,000 hectoliters of beer were brewed in the founding year, twice as much beer had been produced in 1913. The cooperation with the sister brewery in Siegtal then led to the retained name Erzquell Brauerei in 1979.

For over 50 years, the Erzquell Brauerei Bielstein Haas & Co. KG, as the “highest Kölsch brewery in the world”, has been brewing its brand Zunft Kölsch, to which the regulations of the Kölsch Convention apply, even though the brewery lies outside the city limits. A court ruled that Erzquell Brauerei is the only Kölsch brewery outside Cologne that is allowed to continue producing Kölsch, as Kölsch has been brewed in Bielstein for decades. On the other hand, it is not possible to relocate the brewery because the Kölsch brewing right is fixed to the address in Bielstein. A circumstance that brought its pitfalls in the implementation of the project.

Initial situation

The cold block area (area from the maturing tanks to the filling) was partially automated with Siemens S5 control technology or contactor technology. Only a computer from the year 1993 was available for process visualization and control of the entire plant.
The heart of the cold block was then as now the kieselguhr filter. Over the years, many sub-processes have been modified and extended around this filter. As a consequence, the documentation of the electrical installation, the automation and the process sequences was negatively affected.

“The spare parts for the old control system became more and more expensive and were sometimes only available with long delivery times. Together with the fact that there were hardly any qualified service personnel left who could service the old controls, the condition had been worrying us for some time.
In recent years the product range has multiplied and we no longer had the possibility to filter long in advance to create an emergency buffer. As a result, our entire bottling process depended on filtration and the old control system,” says Dieter Breit, brewmaster at Erzquell Brewery.


Scalable network structure based on Siemens S7 with combined ProfiNet / Ethernet

In order to make the Oberbergische Kölsch brewery ready for the next few years, the existing control system had to be modernized sustainably without interrupting the ongoing production any more than is necessary.

Requirements and target setting

The objective of the project was to automate the entire control from the maturing tanks to the filling with one system.

In detail, this included the new automation of the following existing plants and processes:

  • CIP plant;
  • transfer of the unfiltrate;
  • kieselguhr station;
  • kieselguhr filtration;
  • PVPP filtration;
  • sheet filters;
  • pressure tank cellar;
  • pre and post run tanks and their dosage;
  • transfer to filler via flash pasteurization.


Dieter Breit: “As we have to become more and more flexible with production in the future, the new control concept had to be able to cover all areas of production and be flexibly expandable.

The Erzquell Brewery was not interested in working with several suppliers and coordinating the interfaces for the entire project. Instead, it chose a partner who understands all the requirements, namely process know-how and the integration of professional process control software. As a specialist for new installations and upgrading projects, Corosys Prozesssystem und Sensoren GmbH from Hofheim am Taunus took on the task. Due to its many years of experience from many successfully completed projects in the filtration and cold block sector, the company was contracted to develop and implement a complete concept.

Together with the Swiss partner company M&L Consulting from St. Gallen, Corosys has established itself as a full-range supplier for new plants, but also for the modernization of existing filter lines in the brewing industry. It is very important for the Hessians to have all relevant and necessary technical competencies, from process technology, mechanical and electrical design to software development, in-house and to develop them further.

The company pays particular attention to the expansion of its in-house technical development departments. Since 2007, Corosys has been working together closely with ProLeit AG from Herzogenaurach and has realized numerous projects with Brewmaxx as a process control system in recent years. This means that the complete project, from the first design drawing to the finished process control system, comes one hundred percent from a single source. “It was important for us not to hire a software company and explain the brewing process to them, but to find a partner who knows how to combine both – brewing and software – with know-how”, explains Dieter Breit.

The solution approach

During the first discussions it quickly became clear that this was a real challenge. Flow charts, wiring diagrams, program and process descriptions were missing. The project team consisted of technologists, electrical engineers and process control engineers.

The realization steps resulted as follows:

  • Inclusion of the existing cold block in P&I flow diagrams and analysis of the procedures and processes;
    Replacement of the existing control systems, a mixture of S5/S7 components, with a new PLC S7-416 from Siemens;
  • Replacement of the existing field cabinets with new field cabinets based on S7-ET200SP components;
  • Installation of a bus system based on ProfiNet; communication between operating computers and control system is via Ethernet;
  • In order to enable the use of mobile devices, the network has been upgraded with powerful WLAN routers throughout the production area.

The programming and visualization based on the process control system Brewmaxx Express from ProLeit was installed on the solid hardware basis. The Express version of the process control system for breweries can manage up to two operator stations.

Thanks to its dynamic client-server structure, the system can be expanded as required, making it possible to display the automation of the entire brewery on just one system. This is done fully automatically via the supplied on-board resources and no engineering work is lost.

A computer in the control room simultaneously serves as a combined server and operating station. All recipes and reports are managed centrally from here.

To simplify the operation of the filling and filtration processes, a permanently installed operating computer is available centrally in the pressure tank cellar. In addition, a portable and handy touch panel from Siemens is available, which is connected to the system via WLAN.

The mobile 10″ computer is installed as a complete workstation and thus gives the operator the flexibility to monitor and control the system from anywhere in the production building.


The process can be monitored directly from the nearby operator station

The project started in spring 2017 with the aim of gradually moving the various process units to the new system during the summer break and completing the entire implementation in October 2017. The step-by-step integration helped the operating personnel to learn about the new system.

The implementation

All processes and all old flow diagrams were documented together with the staff of Erzquell, analyzed and redesigned on AutoCAD in the form of a new P&ID. With this basis, a brewery-wide measuring instrument concept could be introduced for the brewery in Wiehl in advance, for example to optimize troubleshooting for maintenance.

This was followed by a comparison of the existing electrical installation with the plant and the flow chart, whereupon a new ePlan could be designed. The result of the analysis showed that it was more economical to replace only the electrical installations in the field cabinets, since the cabinets and the cabling were still in good condition. The time window for the conversion was very short anyway, which made this method all the more effective.

The new ProfiNet installation was previously installed and commissioned parallel to the existing network. This also saved time for the modification. Thus, the basis was laid to implement the automation of the existing cleaning system, the connection to the storage cellar, the entire filtration, consisting of PVPP stabilization, kieselguhr filter as well as layer filter and the pressure tank cellar with automatic transfer to the filling plant.

The team was given a time frame of only four days for the conversion. To allow enough time for preparation and testing, the implementation was scheduled for the beginning of October. To do this, two on-site teams were needed at the start of the modification work, which alternated in a two-shift system.

An overview of the realization tasks:

  • Replacement of the old field cabinets;
  • Replacement of the old control system with a new S7 control system;
  • Reconstruction of the motor cabinet;
  • Commissioning of the new bus system;
  • Replacement of the process control system with a Brewmaxx controller;
  • Integration of the individual control sections such as pre- and post-dosing, cleaning and KG containers into the plant control system.

Together with the operating and maintenance staff of the Erzquell Brewery, the existing control system was documented in detail in the form of a program description. Based on the description and by analyzing the old S5 programs, the processes were newly integrated into Brewmaxx V9.

During implementation, individual processes have already been optimized and new functions integrated. Here the Corosys team was able to use its experience in filtration and cold block projects. For example, an additional original wort measurement was integrated for media separation and quality control. This allowed to minimize beer losses.

All processes and forwarding conditions are now displayed graphically on the surface. This simplifies troubleshooting during production and gives the operator control over his system at all times.

All parameters are managed by the recipe control which is based on the step chain. Preconfigured production and batch reports are available in a standardized format. The reports can be exported in all common formats.
Since the system can be run completely in simulation, the project team was able to test all processes down to the smallest detail in advance.

A production operator was assigned to run a virtual production for a week prior to implementation, minimizing the risk of changeover and allowing the operator to be trained in advance.


Looking back, the concept developed in advance has proven to be effective and flexible in its implementation. Customer and supplier are satisfied with the overall result. The Erzquell Brewery had moved from an outdated and no longer supported hardware and software installation to a modernized and fully designed cold block.

The current filter life proofs that an enormous improvement in processes can be achieved with an optimal and comprehensive control concept alone, without changing the existing systems. The filter live could be increased from an average of 1,000-2,500 hl per batch to a good 3,400 hl. This means that the same filter achieves a 30 percent longer life with an equally optimized use of filter aids. The influence of the new automation has also had a positive effect on the processes in the cold block. Department Manager Peter Voigtländer comments: “The filter runs much more smoothly and we no longer have any pressure shocks in the system. The many manual interventions have been replaced by automatic functions”.

The Erzquell Brewery can now also react very flexibly to the increased product range and smaller batches. Voigtländer adds: “It was enormously important to get a contact person for the project to ensure professional support. With the old control system we would not have been able to deliver on time and cover the wide range of products. The program guidance is very pleasant via operating instructions. It is more of a monitoring activity, which creates more room for flexibility”.

The Erzquell Brewery is intended to gradually expand the new central process control concept in the near future and to integrate further production areas into the system. The team is currently working on integrating the fermentation tank control system and expanding the network structure across the entire production area.

“Our goal is to control the entire production with just one system. This opens up new opportunities for us to organize our production better,” says Dieter Breit.


Stefan Feider
Head of process automation, corosys Prozeßsysteme und Sensoren GmbH, Hofheim am Taunus

Dieter Breit
Brewmaster at Erzquell Brauerei, Bielstein

Brauwelt 37-38/2018

By |2020-09-10T13:42:15+02:00January 10th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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