Which came first in the history of civilisation: bread-making or beer-brewing? Since the 1950s, scientists and scholars have been arguing about what really caused our early ancestors to start farming and settling down, rather than remaining as nomadic hunter-gatherers.

Ferdie Fortuin, Sales Manager – General Industry at Danfoss Drives South Africa, notes: “Whatever the answer to this ‘chicken or egg’ question, one thing is certain: human beings have taken the brewing of alcohol very seriously for centuries. For example, the famous German ‘Reinheitsgebot’, or ‘beer purity law’, is over 500 years old, and was originally introduced as a trade regulation law. Today it is praised as being an early food safety regulation, possibly even the world’s oldest intact law to regulate beer contents. And so, in the spirit and tradition of taking beer brewing and safety regulations seriously, Danfoss offers solutions for different processes throughout the brewing industry, where ‘control’ is a key word all the way from mash to bottled product.

“Danfoss has experience in breweries application systems worldwide, for example, Danfoss variable speed drives (VSDs) are suitable for all processing control and monitoring, no matter what the specific protocols might be. With our latest condition base monitoring (CBM) technology, we can even provide more information feedback from a single drive that could assist with maintenances schedules within the breweries.”

Fortuin clarifies that a brewing company in the Netherlands decided to embrace innovation from Danfoss to secure a more solid and sustainable future. The solution involved using Danfoss VLT® drives with integrated condition-based monitoring (CBM) capabilities to reach its goals.

The challenge

With the European beer market expected to grow 15.2 percent by 2025, the company realised that, to meet demand, its production line had to deliver a consistently reliable and excellent performance.

However, prior to Danfoss Drives’ input, the brewery faced costly and lengthy disruptions whenever a machine fault occurred, with operations taking place in harsh, wet conditions and all applications containing concealed motors, making them difficult to access when issues arise.

Danfoss was tasked with helping the brewery to:

  • Increase up-time;
  • Lower overheads;
  • Improve management of spare parts and stock;
  • Access new levels of machine data; and
  • Boost application and system performance.

The solution

In August 2019, Danfoss Drives proposed that the brewery install VLT® drives with embedded intelligence, connectivity and sensor capabilities. Condition-based monitoring signals were then integrated into the brewery’s maintenance system via edge computing.

The brewery also received 4-20 mA vibration sensors from Hansford Sensors, and Danfoss provided additional support with project scoping, commissioning, and training, as well as hosting workshops to determine the best solution for the company’s needs.

The VLT® drives also support pre-existing communication interfaces and software such as fieldbus, local control panels, and VLT® Motion Control Tool MCT 10, meaning the brewery did not have to invest in a new parallel system as part of the upgrade.

The outcome

“The VLT® Motion Control Tool MCT 10 plug-in brought a tremendous improvement,” says Fortuin, “enabling seamless commissioning with consistent parameter settings. And so, with the power to gather more critical application data in real time than ever before, due to the efforts of Danfoss Drives, the brewery was able to optimise its production line while solving all its challenges and building a total value proposition.

“In addition, Danfoss Drives’ digital expertise enabled the company afterwards to retrofit the rest of its drives elsewhere in its facilities with condition-based monitoring functionality.”


This upgrade shows that condition-based monitoring is no longer a premium product meant for a few critical assets, but an affordable solution available for all, provided by Danfoss Drives’ innovative and forward-thinking approach.

“Edge computing in the drive ensures smart and simple condition-based monitoring,” says Fortuin. “At Danfoss, we have the required experience and specialised application knowledge to act as a competent and trustworthy partner for the global brewing industry.

“It seems that humankind has been brewing beer since the dawn of time, and it is Danfoss’ proud intention to continue assisting this process to the highest standards of efficiency and quality control,” he concludes.


Lynne McCarthy

Tel.+27 11 785 7628

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