More effectively and without stoppages

Browar Warka sells over 2.7 hectolitres of beer per annum. One of its current priorities is to increase the effectiveness of its bottling lines, which will be achieved with the help of MES (Manufacturing Execution System) – Proficy Plant Applications.

MES supports ongoing control of the production process; it provides information in real time which in turn enables quick reaction to the state and parameters of bottling lines. Such functionality is provided by GE Fanuc Automation’s Proficy Plant Applications system, which is offered by Bonair. The system consists of four modules for management of efficiency, quality, production and batch processes. Browar Warka has implemented the Efficiency module for its KHS bottling line in order to improve effectiveness and also to eliminate stoppages and losses in the bottling process.

Why would a brewery need an MES?

Companies operating in the food industry face stiff competition and customer satisfaction is of utmost importance, which means constant improvement of production quality. To be able to remain ahead of their market competitors, companies have to shorten the time of launching new products onto the market and processing orders, i.e.: by increasing efficiency.

Increased effectiveness of bottling lines is one of the priorities for our brewery – states Krzysztof Żyrek, production director at Browar Warka. In order to attain this goal, we must be able to accurately describe all events that cause stoppages and slow downs in line production. Thanks to automatic online monitoring of our machines, MES is able to collect detailed data about the time and reason for each breakdown as well as to provide up to date information on line productivity to the management plus the line operators. It also enables analyses to be carried out, which help to eliminate causes of the stoppages and in effect aid technical employees in their every day work – explains Krzysztof Żyrek. Prior to the implementation of Proficy Plant Applications, data on bottling line stoppages was entered manually into Access databases by operators. The system was less accurate then the current one. It didn’t register micro-breakdowns, i.e.: under five minutes and besides, it took too much of the line operators’ time – evaluates the production director.

Experience decisive in system choice

Browar Warka had two solutions to chose from – the Proficy Plant Applications system offered by Bonair and produced by GE Fanuc Automation or the Bottlingteam! line monitoring system offered by the Spanish company Adbraintage. The decisive factor in the ultimate selection of Bonair was the wide functionality of Proficy Plant Applications as well as its architecture plus Bonair’s customer-friendly implementation approach. Krzysztof Żyrek admits that one of the main strengths of the Proficy Plant Applications system is its producer – GE Fanuc’s extensive experience in the design and implementation of MES systems. However, a key role in the selection of this software played the possibility of working with a local integrator – Bonair, which has been able to adapt the solution to the needs of our brewery – emphasizes Krzysztof Żyrek.

Mr Żyrek also pointed out other advantages such as the easy to use panels on production lines which enable operators to enter comments for each breakdown, convenient access to detailed reports that can be viewed on any computer by using an internet browser plus the system’s flexibility enabling analysis of the collected data not just in the application created for this purpose (Proficy Portal) but also in Excel for example.

An Efficiency Module that measures and analyses

The Efficiency Module measures and analyses parameters of efficiency and the degree of use of production resources – tools, machines and people. Targets are set in production plans on how many thousands of bottles should be filled during an hour and hence over the whole 8-hour shift. In the event of the targets not being met, the Efficiency module shows the reason for the lower productivity of the line - on the basis of analysis of micro stoppages and breakdowns on production lines, the module reveals if the problem was caused by planned stoppages, machine breakdowns or defects in containers or caps. It could also be a case of a given personnel’s less efficient handling of the line or slow reaction to machine jams or stoppages or the fact that certain label types cause the machines to jam more frequently.

The Efficiency module’s ongoing monitoring of the production line enables up to date verification of whether a given shift of employees has met their target, if the realisation of monthly plans is on track and if any of the parameters are threatened.

Implementation on time and within budget

At the beginning of the implementation process, technical infrastructure was installed and configured. Connections were made to interfaces of automation controllers on production lines, namely the necessary devices for data collection. This data are electrical signals picked up by sensors on bottling line machines that are recorded in the Historian industrial database in real time.

The next stage of the implementation was the configuration of the Historian database and also analysis of the signals which are fed into it.    

The key and most time-consuming task was modelling in the system of bottling lines, which include several machines used i.e.: for washing bottles, verification of their cleanliness, pasteurization, filling, verification of the amount of beer poured into each bottle, capping, labelling, unpacking and packing of crates. All of these machines had to be reproduced in the system together with a description of each state in which they could be in. A corresponding electrical signal from the Historian database was linked to each such description (stoppage, shortage, lowering/raising of forklift, etc.).

Thanks to this, the software can determine if at a given time a machine has stopped, it released a faulty product, performed its operation incorrectly or transferred to another machine a set number of items.The biggest challenge was to link up MES to the original system of bottling line control (in this case the KHS line) without any difficulties and this aim was fully achieved. We were additionally interested in having an application that would be able to point out the single ‘culprit’ machine from amongst a series of machines stopped at the same time. Next, it was also important for us to possess a tool that would enable operators to comment on given breakdowns and add planned stoppages (i.e.: breakfast breaks, refittings, overhauls) – lists Krzysztof Żyrek.

In order to meet the client’s expectations, Bonair altered the conception during the implementation and created an additional application enabling machine operators to add more data on production line events. This required replacement of operator terminals and when stoppages now occur operators can choose the appropriate reason for the stoppage from a list shown on the terminal.

Despite all these modifications, Bonair was still able to meet all the objectives and carried out the full implementation within the specified time – emphasizes Krzysztof Żyrek.

Reports – less paper work

It was determined at the modelling stage what type and form of reports the system was to generate. This request was facilitated by a specialized Manufacturing Intelligence tool included in Proficy Plant Applications which provides reports in real time. In contrast to Business Intelligence tools used for this purpose in other Manufacturing Execution Systems, this product consists of a homogenous environment that provides a ready package of over 20 out-of-the box reports, which in effect reduces the costs of implementation and also subsequent maintenance and development of the MES.

The management of Browar Warka and especially the production director have ongoing access to overall weekly and monthly statistics. On the basis of reports and analyses, they are able to check each shift’s productivity, pinpoint machines where stoppages occur and verify the duration and causes of the stoppages.

Regular employees also benefit from automatically generated reports. Previously, employees monitored machine productivity by manually entering data on stoppages, which provided information on line effectiveness and the productivity of the whole team. Now, they are able to obtain this data automatically without any laborious paper work – basic percentage parameters, such as the set plan for each shift and the current state of the plan’s realisation are all shown on a big screen located in the hall – tells us Krzysztof Żyrek.

Tests – system better than the eye

The system was launched in succession together with the implementation of subsequent functionalities. Thanks to the participation of Browar Warka’s employees in the entire process (i.e.: the production director, chief process automation engineer and head of bottling operations) results could be verified on an ongoing basis and corrections could be made immediately.

One of the more important tests was verification whether and with what accuracy the system registers line stoppages. This was an untypical test. The system was connected. We set a time at which we would start and as of that moment, the installation counted the stoppages as did people who stood next to each machine with paper sheets, a pencil and a stopwatch and noted all the breakdowns, stoppages and their duration. At the end, we compared the data from the paper sheets with data from the system and it turned out that people noted slightly fewer micro-stoppages – the system was more precise than the human eye! – recounts Krzysztof Żyrek. There were also other divergences that necessitated changes in the system, after which the same test was repeated twice until full convergence was reached.

In turn, the accuracy of the reports generated by the system came down to their comparison with earlier reports created on the basis of hand-written notes (although this could not be done for newly entered reports). This system however was not fail-proof as the company used to not register certain data.

What next? Toward automation

The system was launched in November yet due to the December stoppage related to the overhaul of the production line, it started proper functioning on 1st January 2008. The financial effects of the implementation will only become truly visible in several months. The system can point out “bottle-necks” but it won’t be able to remove them. Our investment in Proficy Plant Applications will not pay for itself if we don’t undertake actions that will increase the bottling line’s productivity – admits Krzysztof Żyrek. What is of greatest significance nonetheless is that we now know what is wrong with the line. Thanks to automatic registration of stoppages, we have a fuller picture than 3 or 4 months ago, we know the causes of stoppages and how much time they actually consume.

Increased productivity is only the beginning.  Browar Warka is considering implementing the remaining modules of MES – Proficy Plant Applications, including the quality and SPC modules. We know which direction we are heading in. We know that we have to focus on more automatic and precise control of the production process – sums up Krzysztof Żyrek.

Implementation facts


technical infrastructure for registration of data from production lines together with OPC INAT server;

GE Fanuc’s Historian 3.1 industrial database for 1,000 signals; GE Fanuc’s Plant Application system – Efficiency Management Server 4.3 and Proficy Portal Enterprise v. 2.6; training for the management and bottling line operators


Grupa Żywiec SA -  Browar Warka (the second biggest brewery part of the Żywiec Group) employing over 300 people


  • 21 May 2007 – signing of implementation agreement
  • May - June 2007 – delivery of equipment and software
  • June – October – stage I of the implementation: availability of basic functionality
  • November – December 2007 – stage II of the implementation: configurations of reports required by Browar Warka, creation of additional application fragment enabling better reporting of events on lines, tests and launch of the system
  • 12 December 2007 – signing of acceptance protocol  
  • 1 January 2007 – full production launch of the system

Implementation benefis

  • Access to accurate information on breakdowns and stoppages necessary to undertake production management decisions
  • Possibility of elimination of losses and stoppages in the process of beer bottling
  • Support of the TPM (Total Productive Management) system in production management
  • Increased availability of resources (machines, equipment, people)
  • Optimization of the quality of the beer bottling process
  • Less paperwork for employees – manual preparation of reports your social media marketing partner