Keeping the fires burning

UAS and Zippe proved to be the perfect team for upgrading the glass packaging specialist Vetropack’s works in Saint-Prex, Switzerland.

The existing PCS 7 concept was brought up to date during ongoing operations, and plant-wide automation was installed that can even be used across facilities.    

Vetropack Group, Switzerland - With a comprehensive range of glass packaging products for the food and drink industry, Vetropack Group is one of the largest and most innovative container glass manufacturers in Europe. The group’s seven glassworks, with a total of 17 melting furnaces, have a production capacity of over 3,000 tons of packaging glass per day.

To supply its customers with innovative products, the group continually modernizes its production facilities. Vetropack believes that optimizing how resources and facilities are used is the only way to guarantee sustainable success.

Optimizing the daily cycle time of the plant has enabled a reduction in energy costs for the batch house at Vetropack in Saint-Prex, Switzerland. (Photo: Vetropack)

A perfectly coordinated complete solution...

No sooner said than done: Vetropack commissioned UAS Messtechnik GmbH and Zippe Industrieanlagen GmbH to work together on the project. The two companies were tasked with designing and implementing an end-to-end, perfectly coordinated automation solution based on Simatic PCS 7. Working in tandem allowed them to play to their strengths: As general contractor, UAS was responsible for updating the existing PCS 7 concept for the melting furnace and ancillary components, and converting the firing system from heavy oil to natural gas in compliance with the latest standards – including a new feeder controller. Zippe contributed its expertise in batch house control and integrated its automation solution throughout the entire system. Drawing on the two partners’ breadth of experience and know-how, a comprehensive concept for converting and adapting all plant segments was developed and implemented in just a few months.

...for the batch house, the melting furnace and ancillary components

All these measures were designed to respond to Vetropack’s demand for a future-proof plant that is upgradeable in line with APL standards, and equipped with the latest version of the process control system, Simatic PCS 7. “This provided the basis for combining all segments in plant-wide automation. Furthermore, Vetropack is now equipped for the future with a cross-plant concept,” explains Peter Höfig, Head of the Project Department at UAS, who was responsible for planning and coordinating the project.

Another priority for Vetropack was to increase the performance, availability and user-friendliness of the plant in Saint-Prex, Switzerland. The contract also covered a conversion of the firing system from heavy oil to natural gas. This was achieved through a complete solution, which included an integrated gas chromatograph from Siemens. The existing oil-firing system now serves as a back-up system.

Greater performance, capacity and user-friendliness

In order to increase performance at the plant, the batch house and melting furnace, including all ancillary components, were fitted with redundant servers, and the network structures were adjusted. This improvement met the operator’s demand for greater availability. Finally, Vetropack’s monitoring and operating systems were adapted to the plant structure, and optimized for user-friendliness according to the plant operator’s specifications.

“Thanks to plant-wide automation and the central engineering, Vetropack can now make processes transparent, access central data, and thus react quickly to changes in the plant. The result is a more efficient plant with greater availability. This is the all-important cornerstone when it comes to sustainability – particularly as the concept can be used across plants,” adds Höfig.

One of the main challenges in the project was to implement the changes during full operation, without any production downtime – the engineering equivalent of open-heart surgery. Production ran at 100 percent capacity during the project: “This was another important piece in the puzzle, and thanks to constructive cooperation and communication from all parties, we were able to fit everything together perfectly,” Höfig is pleased to report. Even the gas system was integrated during ongoing operation.

The process control system Simatic PCS 7 forms the basis of an end-to-end automation solution incorporating all plant sections at Vetropack. (Photo: Zippe/UAS)

Everything in place for cross-plant operation

After only a few months, all work to update the plant was completed in April 2014 to Vetropack’s full satisfaction. Even so, the operator and their project partners are already considering future moves: the automation concept was installed in the Saint-Prex plant with the aim not only of plant-wide operation, but also across Vetropack’s plants.

About UAS Messtechnik GmbH

UAS Messtechnik GmbH specializes in industrial measurement and control technology, This year, the company is celebrating its 30th anniversary in the industry. Headquartered in Viechtach, Germany, UAS employs 35 staff members and produces turnkey complete solutions for all areas of the process industry. UAS is a certified Siemens Industry Solution Partner. As a Siemens partner with extensive experience in the glass industry, UAS has completed over 80 projects in the areas of float glass, container glass, TFT/LCD and glass fiber. The company specializes in programing projects conforming with Simatic PCS 7.

600450 Keeping the fires burning

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