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Increased performance and availability at Irish distillers’ Midleton plant

27 August 2008

The Midleton distillery was opened in 1975 occupying a 45 hectare site, and is unique in that both Grain and Pot whiskeys are produced there. It is the special blends of these two whiskeys that give the unique character to all the whiskey brands of the Irish Distiller Group.

Increased performance and availability at Irish distillers’ Midleton plant
Increased performance and availability at Irish distillers’ Midleton plant

Midleton distillery had begun to find its existing fibre-optic based network too slow to suit its production requirements. The fibre-optic Scada network extends through all the production areas, including the grain intake area, the brewhouse, the fermentation plant, the stillhouse, the boilerhouse, the feeds recovery area, the vathouse, and the wastewater treatment plant.

“We had used a fibre-optic star topology to network the various Scada PCs in the different production area control centres, but although it was state of the art when it went in, the network was quickly becoming a limiting factor,” said Michael Tracey, Engineering Manager at the Midleton distillery. “Even at 100Mbps we were finding the fibre connections too slow, whilst the star topology and the use of unmanaged switches meant that it was difficult to expand the system and diagnose faults.”

Looking for a new solution that would prove faster, simpler to manage and more tolerant of faults to ensure high availability of the network, Tracey turned to GarrettCom Europe, finding the answer in its high speed, industrially hardened, managed Ethernet switches. Designed to meet modern requirements of high performance and increased configuration flexibility, the GarrettCom managed switch range combines gigabit fibre ports with choices of both 100Mb and 10Mb fibre or copper ports, all of which can be mixed and matched within any given switch to best meet the needs of the application. The managed switches are supplied with GarrettCom’s MNS software, which provides a complete range of management services.
The switches supplied by GarrettCom are now used throughout the Scada network, linking all the production areas on a fibre-optic ring at gigabit speeds using RS-Ring Technology.

“We chose the GarrettCom switches for a number of reasons, perhaps the most important was GarrettCom’s RS-Ring redundancy technology, which provides fast fault recovery in Ethernet LANs, even over the long distances that are typical in a large plant such as the Midleton distillery. Also important were the facts that the switches are both managed products and genuine industrial products. The distillery is an extremely challenging environment for control components, so we needed products that were industrially hardened. In this respect, the GarrettCom switches were ideal. Further, they are managed products, and the supplied software was easy to use and provided a range of security and redundancy features.” Tracey stated.

The rapid growth of Irish Distillers is impressive and is likely to place heavy demands on productivity at the Midleton plant. But with its new high speed, high availability network in place, the company can be confident that its control system is in the best shape to deliver.

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