Communication makes it possible

Milk is a highly perishable product, and quality is a top priority in milk processing. That’s why Molkerei Ammerland relies on a powerful Siemens solution, proving that quality is ultimately a matter of reliable communication.

Cows produce milk 365 days a year, without taking time off for weekends, holidays, or vacations – and milk processing plants like Molkerei Ammerland have to adapt to this rhythm.

 

The company processes approximately 1.7 billion kilograms of milk each year at two locations in Germany. Smooth production processes are critical for maintaining the high quality of the raw milk. These processes must function reliably even during periodic expansions of the dairy.

 

“We’re constantly expanding, but every time a section is finished, we realize that we actually planned one size too small,” says Michael Oellsch winkingly. As system administrator at Molkerei Ammerland, he knows what’s involved in reliably connecting new buildings to existing networks.

A technology partner with well-established industry knowledge

That’s how it’s been with the latest expansion of the Ammerland plant in Wiefelstede. The plant consists of 200 controllers that exchange production-relevant data through more than 1,000 communication nodes.

 

This means that the project placed high demands on both the technology and the implementation. The components had to be rugged and reliable. The technology partner also had to handle the implementation, have comprehensive, specialized knowledge of the food and beverage industry, and provide professional service at all times. Siemens was finally selected as a technology supplier and project partner.

For this demanding project, we needed a partner with industry-specific expertise and offering a consistent approach.
Hans-Peter Hübner, Molkerei Ammerland

Preventing system failures

A stable network is the backbone of all production. In automated production, all plant sections are interconnected and continuously exchanging data. Redundancy mechanisms and an uninterruptible power supply are essential components for preventing system failures in the network solution jointly developed by Siemens and Molkerei Ammerland.

Basis for digitalization

In the course of modernizing, Molkerei Ammerland upgraded the passive network technology, meaning those components that don’t have their own power supply. High-performance fiber-optic data cables were laid to carry all of the communication, from production, storage, and refrigeration to the sewage treatment plant. The Sinema Server network management software from Siemens handles monitoring and management tasks and provides maximum transparency in the network. It allows employees to access numerous diagnostic and analysis functions and view all relevant production data at any time via validation reports.

 

One highly critical juncture was the transition from the production network to the office network. The enterprise IT had to be strictly separated from the industrial environment. “For security reasons, we had to completely seal the plant off to the outside,” recalls Hans-Peter Hübner, project manager at Molkerei Ammerland. “At the same time, we wanted to expand the digitalization to make the entire system more flexible and to lay the foundation for future developments.” The solution comprises clearly defined transition points through which the two systems communicate with one another.

An unusual approach for the industry

It’s unusual for a company in the food and beverage industry to use its own IT computing center instead of numerous PCs in the production area. Various tasks and systems run on virtual machines, including the Simatic PCS 7 process control system from Siemens. This structure allows the company to save on hardware, simplify management effort, and optimize its resource utilization.

 

In the event of future expansions and modernizations, the consistent, end-to-end network concept will continue to meet the demands of both IT and automation. “It makes sense for things that belong together to also be used together,” says Hübner.

Cheese production involves living cultures that develop in specific growth phases and timeframes. That’s why production has to run smoothly 365 days a year.
Michael Oellsch, Molkerei Ammerland

2018-08-02

 

Company Foundation

1885

Employees

about 700 employees including all subsidiaries

Turnover 2017

889.5 million euros

Export

Percentage Share approx. 50 percent to over 60 countries

Product Portfolio

cheese, butter, fresh milk, buttermilk, cream, milk and whey powder, milk concentrate

Processed milk 2017

1,738.5 million kg

Production 2017

cheese: 134,366 t
milk products: 134,820 t
butter: 22,853 t
powder: 44,790 t

 

Source: Molkerei Ammerland

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