Bottling line illumination

The new World of Coca-Cola showcase in Atlanta is putting the wonders of automation on display for public consumption. At the new tourist facility, which officially opened May 24, 2007, visitors can see depalletizing and packaging robots, a clean in place system, machine vision systems, and blending/filling operations in action.


The new World of Coca-Cola showcase in Atlanta is putting the wonders of automation on display for public consumption. At the new tourist facility, which officially opened May 24, 2007, visitors can see depalletizing and packaging robots, a clean in place system, machine vision systems, and blending/filling operations in action.

“The new World of Coca-Cola is a physical expression of everything Coca-Cola is,” Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Neville Isdell said at the opening ceremonies for the new center. The building holds three theaters, over 1,000 Coca-Cola artifacts never seen by the public, and Bottle Works, a fully-functioning bottling line.

Visitors get an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at how Coca-Cola is made and packaged. At Bottle Works, guests have the opportunity to wander through the bottling plant via a glass tunnel. A “ghost” image appears on the walls to explain what’s happening behind the glass.

The tour starts with the clean in place unit that sends sanitizer and 180°F water to all the equipment in the bottling line to clean the interiors of pipes and machinery when Coke is not being made. Visitors then see where water is filtered and cleaned with a multi-barrier treatment system to ensure its quality. The next step is the syrup tank, which stores up to 1,000 gallons of syrup, enough to make approximately 104,000 8-ounce bottles of Coke.

Moving through the process, visitors see a packaging robot unique to Bottle Works which unloads empty bottles and puts them into production to be filled and stacks simulation bottles as they come off the line. A machine vision system in the bottle inspector then takes a picture of every bottle to examine its interior for defects. Any bottle that does not meet quality standards is rejected and the rest move on to be rinsed.

The bottle rinser fills bottles with de-ionized, filtered air, which breaks the static charge and removes any particles that may cling to the bottles. The blender, or proportioner, is next on the tour, showing where the syrup and treated water are mixed together in accurately measured ratios. The filtered carbon dioxide is added to create the finished beverage here as well. The bottles move on to the laser coder where the bottles are dated, and then to the fill-level inspector and fill capper. The final stage of the tour is the quality assurance lab where randomly selected bottles of Coke are tested for taste, amount of sweetener and CO2, and application of the cap.

Some parts of Bottle Works cannot be found in a typical bottling plant. This bottling line was designed to fill 20 bottles every minute, making it easier for visitors to observe the process, but some bottling plants have lines that are capable of filling more than 2,200 cans a minute. Even at a slow rate of speed, Bottle Works produces more Coke than is needed at the new World of Coca-Cola. At certain times of the day visitors may see bottles being emptied and a caramel colored liquid being recirculated, which means that the line is in simulation mode.

GE Fanuc provided software and services to support a comprehensive plant intelligence solution for Bottle Works. The system includes all of the functional elements found in Coca-Cola’s most advanced bottling plants globally.

Behind the scenes, the GE Fanuc professional services team used a modular production management solution that provides critical process and quality information to supervisors and technicians responsible for operation of the bottling line in a high-availability environment. “The chief requirement of the system was very high availability, because the plant at the new World of Coca-Cola is open 10 hours a day 363 days a year,” said Dan McGuire, senior project manager for GE Fanuc global professional services. “Built-in iFix redundancy is a key component and advantage.”

This was accomplished leveraging GE Fanuc’s integrated automation solutions, including redundant Proficy HMI/SCADA - iFix servers, and Proficy Production management (MES) and historian software running in a clustered server environment. Both SCADA and MES are interfaced to all Bottle Works equipment over an Ethernet shop floor backbone. This network is also in use at Coca-Cola North America syrup facilities throughout the U.S. The comprehensive plant intelligence solution includes Proficy Plant Applications Production management software encompassing genealogy (lot traceability), overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and quality used in concert with a Proficy HMI/SCADA - iFix system providing supervisory monitoring and reporting.

A unique feature of the Bottle Works implementation is redundant Proficy HMI/SCADA - iFix systems driving six 20-inch LCD displays located in the quality lab and more than 100 ft. from their servers. A typical installation would need six computers and complicated scripting to orchestrate the displays. But by using a standard display adapter from Matrox Electronic Systems, CAT5-based transmitter/receivers by Magenta Research, and simple scripting in iFix, the team dramatically reduced the cost, complexity, and ongoing maintenance of the system. Redundancy built into iFix, and common cabling, supports quick failover of the SCADA system and displays, if needed.

Of the six screens, five would be familiar to SCADA engineers, showing animated schematics of the operation. The far right screen rolls through Proficy Plant Applications genealogy reports and trend displays for the clean in place (CIP) system. All processing and CIP activities are captured in Proficy Historian, so Coca-Cola can generate reports as part of its quality systems compliance program.

“This capability really shows the tight integration possible between iFix and Proficy Production Management,” continued McGuire. “We’re able to provide a high availability environment that allows Coke to, on one screen, view detailed CIP cycle and step reports as well as trend displays and genealogy all inside a common SCADA architecture.”

The genealogy module of Proficy Plant Applications tracks and reports all process and filling operations, including syrup distribution, CIP, blending, and filling to exceed Coca-Cola’s quality standards and requirements for end-to-end product traceability. The Plant Applications OEE module monitors critical packaging and filling equipment, delivering the process improvement data needed to continuously improve production reliability and reduce operation and maintenance costs.

Quality lab technicians and operators rely on a unique six screen process control visualization that can be seen by guests touring Bottle Works. It includes an animated process and instrumentation diagram (P&ID) display, trend displays of critical process variables, and equipment status indicators.

The system is used to monitor and report data from the shop floor, including information regarding the GE Water & Water Technologies direct filtration system, which provides clean water used in the formulation of the product, as well as the water for the CIP system. In addition, a Fanuc robot is accomplishing depallatizing — taking the bottles from pallets and placing them on the line. (GE Fanuc is a joint venture between General Electric and Fanuc LTD of Japan.)

GE Fanuc worked closely with Rovisys, an integrator headquartered in Aurora, Ohio, with deep experience in both GE Fanuc solutions and other automation solutions. Rovisys was responsible for the development of the Proficy HMI/SCADA– iFix graphics used.

“They wanted the same graphics as the real plants use within Coke,” said Joe Maukonen, director of manufacturing IT for Rovisys. “Our job was to determine how best to depict the activities represented by iFix. We made them dynamic and easy to work with.”

Author Information

Brandon Henning is global industry manager for the food & beverage industry at GE Fanuc Automation, headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. He can be reached at .

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