Allagash Brewing Company of Portland Maine produces award-winning beers (Gold and Silver medals at the Great American Brewing Festival) and is considered one of the premier independent brewers in the United States. How does Allagash consistently stay on top? Brewers use consistent ingredients and maintain tight control of processes through advanced controllers.
According to Branch Rothschild a lead brewer at Allagash. “If you miss the mash temperature by half of a degree, you end up with a different beer,” he says.
Maine Controls, a Schneider Electric partner, worked with Allagash to automate and regulate both the brewing plant environment and the company’s storage warehouse temperature controls.
Sean Diffley, plant engineer, who keeps everything running — anything that isn’t actual brewing that is — says, “Superior quality is part of our core mission and we knew that upgrading our environmental control technology would help us fulfill that mission.”
Branch agrees. He says, “The technology is there to make us better brewers.”
Allagash replaced plant thermostats with advanced controllers for improved monitoring and regulation of warehouse temperatures. Before, workers had to keep a constant watch on temperature, but this manual practice was imprecise. Plus, if no one was on duty there was no visibility. The controllers also make the hot, humid environment at the brewing facility more comfortable for the brewers.
The new system enables Allagash to set up alerts and alarms for quick response to problems, track energy usage over time and integrate the temperature controls with other systems to more effectively support one of its core values of sustainability.
Working in the Warehouse
Maine Controls, a companion company of Mechanical Services, a top provider of energy management systems in the state, had originally installed the HVAC control systems at Allagash’s plant. The key challenge in the warehouse facility was controlling both refrigerated and warm rooms constructed with 40-foot high ceilings.
To manage the varied environment, Maine Controls installed Schneider Electric’s SE7600 wireless room controllers and MPM gateways, which cut installation and commissioning costs and bridged the gap between standalone sensors and intelligent building management systems.
In just a few days, the controllers to monitor the AC equipment were installed and integrated into a Schneider Electric ENC-520 Enterprise Network Controller, which provides integrated control, supervision, and network management solutions for LonWorks, BACnet MS/TP and Modbus controllers.
Using a Schneider Electric Enterprise Network Server, Maine Controls created a custom-designed graphical interface for Allagash. This interface features easily understood drag-and-drop graphic representations of common control algorithms and functions, and easy-to-use “wizards” that automate controller configurations — all accessed using any standard Web browser.
After seeing how easy and effective the warehouse monitoring solution was, Allagash decided to replace the thermostats in its offices back at the plant too.
For Allagash, the aggregated projects led to a single integrated system for monitoring and controlling temperatures across all its facilities. For Allagash’s consumers, the result is consistent high-quality beer — talk about a win-win!