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Gancia bubbly acquires new lease of life thanks to PlantPAx Distributed Control System from Rockwell Automation

21 January 2020

Complete modernisation of the sparkling process control plant enables F.lli Gancia to take one more step towards The Connected Enterprise

Gancia, a world-renowned made-in-Italy brand, represents a true milestone in the history of Italian oenology. The F.lli Gancia winery was founded in 1850 with a strong focus on experimentation and innovation; values that still distinguish the company today. Its founder, Mr. Carlo Gancia, launched the first ‘classic method’ sparkling wine. In 1865 his son Camillo added the Asti variation, which embodies the sweet sparkling wine recognised worldwide.

Th F.lli Gancia, which now has a presence in 80 countries and produces 25 million bottles every year, has started a wave of technological innovation to support its production cycles and to guarantee consistency in the standards of quality and excellence that first made it popular.

The need for a new sparkling process control system was part of this upgrade initiative. Gancia selected Rockwell Automation as its supplier of control and automation systems for this project, with implementation by Progecta, a company specialising in the food industry. Rockwell Automation was able to offer customer oriented, state-of-the-art solutions by working with Progecta, which boasts 25 years of considerable expertise in the installation of control and automation solutions and is one of only a few Italian companies to be named as a Rockwell Automation Recognised System Integrator.

Recognised System Integrators make the commitment to deliver the highest technical solutions and customer service, leading with Rockwell Automation technologies. These integrators have a mutually supportive relationship with the Rockwell Automation sales and/or distributors they work with.

A core industry focus for Gancia is its sparkling process which makes up 80% of its production facility. Based on this strategy, Gancia sought to upgrade to a technologically advanced solution to minimise error and risk margins in both the testing and final stages of production. The application had to meet their criteria of being easy to use and maintain, and had to interface with their other systems. The company required full visibility and control, the ability to make real-time decisions using contextualised production data and an improvement in decision-making processes.

This breakthrough architecture needed to be in place within 15 days, in time for the next grape harvest.

At Gancia, four different cellars are used for the winemaking process: base wines, where musts are stored and processed; traditional method, vermouth, and the sparkling wine cellar for the Martinotti or Industrial method. Here approximately twenty million bottles of sparkling wine and moscato are produced every year. To manage this, Rockwell Automation proposed a PlantPAx® Distributed Control System, implemented on EtherNet/IP™ network architecture.

The sparkling process is critical since it involves a series of phases and steps in different autoclaves, all with strict control of essential parameters like pressure and temperature. The “froth capture” of the Asti sparkling wine requires ten days, while the moscato requires only five days.

Depending on the processing stage, during this timeframe, the wines are stored in autoclaves, which have been subjected to washing cycles of at least 20 minutes. The wine flows in and is left in an autoclave to ferment with added yeasts until it has reached an alcohol content of approximately 7.20/7.30 percent for sparkling wine and 5 percent for moscato and 5 bar pressure in the tank. Once the optimal levels are reached, the wine undergoes a cross-filtration process. It is cooled inline and stored in containers at a controlled temperature of 0°C for the stabilisation stage where cream of tartar is added. It is then micro-filtered and put in draught tanks before being bottled.

PlantPAx was implemented as the core of the system; the control platform which replaces the old standard control system and which may in time have caused difficulties if Gancia needed to obtain spare parts in case of damage.

“Even though it is a complex and extended application – 79 autoclaves with 600 quintal capacity, approximately 1,000 valves for transfer and washing cycles, and a set of devices to be controlled – the system offered by Rockwell Automation and implemented by Progecta outperforms competitor solutions when it comes to its ease of use,” explains Andrea Cavalli, F.lli Gancia Technical Management.

The communication infrastructure based on the EtherNet/IP protocol gives great flexibility and agility. “The transition from a wired architecture to a distributed network allowed us to change the existing control system without replacing the main or the remote switchboards where the I/O modules have been installed. Ethernet was used to connect to all single points, providing us with scalability; we can increase this by simply using an additional I/O,” states Nicola Nada, Progecta Technical Management.

A dedicated switchboard has been implemented for power control, while the valve control systems are managed via a single mains and network cable. This allows for a reduction in the number of cables in the trays, making cleaning easier and freeing up space for additional cables that may be needed in the event of further developments in the sparkling wines cellar.

Today, Gancia has improved overall visibility of the entire process. Two 50 inch monitors have been installed side by side to replace the existing LED synoptics, enabling full monitoring of the complete installation at a glance, with the High End Operator Workstation (OWS).

“The PlantPAx Distributed Control System meets our expectations perfectly,” continues Andrea Cavalli. “First, it allowed us to meet our main goal: to adopt state-of-the-art technologies to achieve the best effectiveness in terms of streamlining and gaining improved visibility on the process of industrial sparkling – a strategic part of our business. Second, we have enhanced diagnostic capability for timely intervention, provided by a set of real-time alerts; a task previously delegated to the cellarman, who was the only person able to identify issues and carry out troubleshooting against irregularities observed.”

Gancia was one of the first Italian wineries to be equipped with a supervisory system to enable 24/7 continuous monitoring of any vital parameter. By deploying a Connected Enterprise approach, the sparkling wine cellar, previously a stand-alone area, has now been integrated into an overall control system. This enterprise-wide strategy of connecting the plant gives better visibility into operations, improves performance measuring and supports better decision-making using indisputable real-time data.

The EtherNet/IP communication protocol provides the maintenance staff with timely intervention capabilities where, simply upon receiving an alert via mobile device, they can access the system remotely via mobile for quick fault location and troubleshooting. This reduces the need to have a supervisor or plant manager on site 24/7 and also reduces the risks of unprecedented machine downtime. The system also provides the ability to schedule any preventive maintenance operations.

“Convergence among operating and information systems as well as the availability of operational data, combined with the ability of parameter traceability and trend definition, definitely meets our aims of being a real Connected Enterprise, while providing us with new supporting tools for decision-making,” concludes Andrea Cavalli.

For more information, please contact:

Rockwell Automation Ltd
Elena Popova – Marketing Communications UK and Ireland
Tel:  +44 1908 627889
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