For the new construction of the Antersdorfer Mühle in Simbach am Inn (Bavaria, Germany), BHS Control Systems successfully designed and implemented the complete control technology. The software used enables location-independent and flexible control of the entire mill through a practical and intuitive user interface around the clock. For the implementation, BHS Control Systems relied on the proven SIMATIC WinCC Open Architecture from Siemens.
Founded in 1884, the Antersdorfer Mühle can look back on a long tradition of milling. Since the 1970s, the Priemeier family in Simbach am Inn has consistently focused on the purely sustainable processing of regional organic grain products. After the flood of the century in 2016 almost completely destroyed the old mill, the new building could be put into operation in April 2023 after a construction period of about two and a half years. With a storage capacity of 8,500 tons in a 40-meter-high silo tower and a total of 72 silo cells, the organic mill is one of the most modern and sustainable of its kind in Europe.
Uniform solution for heterogeneous machinery and milling products
Throughout the construction process, several machine manufacturers supplied the technologies for the central processes of grain processing, from receiving and storing the organic raw materials to milling and filling. This variance in the machinery landscape results from Antersdorf Mill's corporate philosophy of processing all types of grain delivered by organic farmers during the year. In addition to the production of flours and flakes from wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, corn, millet, buckwheat and legumes, this also includes various ready-to-eat seeds such as sesame or sunflower seeds, as well as a separate plant exclusively for gluten-free processing. "As an organic mill, we are guided by the crop rotation of our farmers," explains Senior Chef Johann Priemeier. "Accordingly, our milling operation is also diverse, as are the requirements for controlling our machinery and production processes."
Since most machine manufacturers offer their own control technology, this ultimately resulted in a confusing multitude of isolated solutions. "However, our aim from the outset was to bring together all the machines and the entire plant control system in a uniform control solution," explains Johann Priemeier, "That's why we deliberately looked for an external supplier who could offer us a complete, flexible control solution tailored to our needs from a single source." Due to their many years of experience in the mill industry, the choice fell on BHS Control Systems, a subsidiary of BHS-Sonthofen. "The decisive factor in our decision was the fact that the solution offered by BHS with open interfaces to other systems already included many standardized functionalities through special mill modules," says Priemeier.
Turnkey technology from a single source
The basis of the control solution in the Antersdorf organic mill is the WinCC Open Architecture SCADA system from Siemens. The 100 percent scalable, platform-neutral SCADA system enables solutions tailored precisely to the mill's various requirements. A special feature is the decentralized emergency stop periphery. Here, the signals are recorded directly on site and transmitted via a cable to the safety controller in the control cabinet. This concept was also applied to all other signals in the plant and saves time, labor and material by shortening the cable routes.
Thanks to user-friendly and practical operation, the entire system can be controlled without any problems. In addition, tablets and smartphones with Windows or Android enable mobile control of the plant, whether from home or on the road. "Our control technology offers the possibility of covering a large number of process steps, such as goods receiving, storage and silo loading, transfer to silos, mixing, sorting and peeling," explains Thomas Schön, Head of Electrical and Automation Engineering, BHS Control Systems. "Complex processes can be controlled with our solution and the additional modules, which is why it is particularly suitable for plants with many process steps." Seamless integration of the mill control solution with the ERP system enables mill processes, purchasing and sales to be linked end-to-end. This ensures seamless batch tracing and process documentation, which on the one hand meets the requirements of organic certification and at the same time increases the mill's operational efficiency and quality.
More efficiency in production and optimum support
Since the introduction of modern control technologies, mill productivity and efficiency have increased significantly. Thanks to the intuitive user interface, even new employees who have no experience with mill control can be quickly integrated into the new processes and are able to work independently in a short time - a clear advantage given the current shortage of skilled workers in the milling industry. The fact that the entire control system of the mill is automated distinguishes it significantly from the analog-operated predecessor plant. "With the control solutions from BHS Control Systems we have made a quantum leap in technology. Thanks to the control of all processes via a central system we can react flexibly and quickly to the different properties and requirements of our raw materials," says Priemeier happily.
The company is particularly enthusiastic about the excellent support provided by the BHS experts. "From day one we had fixed contact persons who accompanied us in all matters. This way we also feel well positioned for the future," Johann Priemeier sums up. On the BHS side, too, there is all-round satisfaction with the implementation. "We are proud that we were able to support the new construction of the organic mill with state-of-the-art control technology," comments Thomas Schön. "For us, such a major project was further proof that with our solutions we can make complex processes user-friendly and thus also suitable for everyday use."
In the fall of 2021, Interquell – based in the Augsburg region of Germany – successfully completed connecting all of its machinery to the modern control solution from BHS Control Systems. This harmonizes the entire production process – from the delivery of raw materials to shipping. BHS Control Systems has been Interquell’s partner in control technology for ten years. The successful partnership paved the way for additional projects at a total of three sites.
Since 1765, the traditional family-owned company Interquell has been producing high-quality food products as well as animal feed at various sites. Their headquarters is in Wehringen, Germany, where feed is now produced on five production lines. Interquell produces food in Grossaitingen and mainly conducts tests at the Bobingen site.
Their product portfolio has grown steadily – and their machine landscape along with it. Ten years ago, the company decided to partner with BHS Control Systems to gain the ability to produce according to modern standards. After the first joint successes, it was clear that Interquell also wanted BHS Control Systems to help them modernize the entire plant control system one step at a time.
Merging the heterogeneous machine landscape
Whether extruders, mills, packaging machines or goods receiving, every process step and machine at Interquell had different control systems due to the company’s long history. A new, homogeneous system had to meet the customer’s high demands in terms of future viability. Werner Bobach, Production Manager at Interquell, sums it all up: “When we were choosing a partner for the control system, the most important thing for us was good and ongoing cooperation. Our systems must always be up to date in order to ensure modern, effective production processes and to meet our strict, proprietary quality assurance requirements.”
After ten years of cooperation with BHS-Sonthofen, a major milestone has now been reached. In September 2021, the last two older control systems were replaced with the solution from BHS Control Systems. Now the entire plant in Wehringen has a consistent operating system. “Each control system had to be operated differently, so this final switch to a uniform operating concept represents a reduction in workload for our employees – they can now be put to work anywhere, and initial training for new colleagues has become easier,” explains Bobach.
Other innovations and sites
Three more projects with BHS Control Systems are lined up for the coming months. Interquell also plans to connect new machinery to the BHS control system and retrofit older machinery at both the Bobingen and Grossaitingen sites, as well as at the main plant in Wehringen. In doing so, BHS Control Systems is to be fully integrated into the entire process – receiving raw materials, grinding, screening, conveying, extrusion, drying, coating and packaging.
This is essential to the traceability of the manufacturing process and, in addition to identifying a faulty batch, opens up many other options for process optimization. Ulrich Leinauer, software engineer at BHS Control Systems, explains the new possibilities: “If a problem occurs with the final product, each individual work step is traceable, including the machine and the parameters used. This makes it possible for errors to be identified, corrected and avoided in the long term.”
An industry-specific solution and optimal support
For the mills’ control systems, BHS Control Systems uses industry-specific solutions based on programmable logic controllers (PLC) to deliver transparent process visualization and an intuitive operating concept. The base technology is the open and fully scalable WinCC OA software from Siemens, which is supplemented by numerous libraries for feed production or mill operation. Thanks to these libraries, things such as the compatibility of ingredients can also be ensured in addition to traceability.
Whether it be regular updates or quick and straightforward help with spontaneously occurring problems, the ongoing support of the control system provider is just as important as the software being used. Solutions must be found quickly in order to keep operations running as smoothly as possible. As the scope of the project has increased, so have the demands on the project management team and support staff. “We and our customer are growing together, allowing us to contribute to their success in the long term,” says Leinauer.
BHS-Sonthofen now offers turnkey control systems for complete plants in the field of recycling and environment thanks to the newly founded BHS Control Systems GmbH & Co. KG. The customer receives complete solutions tailored to their needs, including recycling, control, and automation technology from a single source. BHS provides assistance in transferring the control system to modern systems.
“A lot of companies currently use control systems and software that providers no longer support,” explains Steffen Kämmerer, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at BHS-Sonthofen and Managing Director of BHS Control Systems. “That is why we are seeing an increasing demand for control solutions when it comes to expanding or modernizing existing recycling plants.” BHS provides an especially high level of safety and flexibility both in the modernization of systems and in new plants thanks to its efficient and open solutions.
BHS-Sonthofen significantly expanded its service portfolio in the area of control and automation technology with the acquisition of Thoma Elektrosteuerungsanlagen GmbH from Babenhausen on 1 January 2020. Using its more than 30 years of experience and expertise as a basis, the Group now also offers customers engineering, supply, and design services for turnkey plant control systems for major projects in the recycling industry. BHS takes care of installation and commissioning and also provides user support and training.
Customers benefit from the open interface architecture. “Win CC Open Architecture is an open and scalable system that enables a wide range of components to be integrated smoothly and it is suitable for both small and large plants,” explains Kämmerer. BHS uses this as the foundation for custom solutions. The customer can expand the plant as required without the need for major investment in interface management. From a simple small system to a complex high-end system, the architecture is highly adaptable.
Win CC Open Architecture is also platform neutral and runs on Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. The system has proven itself to be extremely efficient when being used in everything from user guidance to system connection. BHS develops the individual components of its automation and control technology at its site in Babenhausen near Memmingen, Germany, in exact line the customer’s individual requirements. BHS Control Systems is already implementing a project in the processing of lithium-ion batteries for the Recycling & Environment division of BHS.
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