Food Engineering

Real-time insight into winery operations

October 1, 2008
Web-based SCADA/enterprise software helps keep “2-Buck Chuck” prices low.


FactoryPMI screen from Inductive Automation shows the Ceres winery’s Press Cross Feed Conveyor system. The software provides access to the Ceres operation plus navigation to the wine tanks, SO2 system, alerts and more. Source: Inductive Automation.


Bronco Winery, located in Ceres, CA, produces more than 12 million gallons of its Charles Shaw label, also known as “2-Buck-Chuck,” wine annually and has three other California locations in Escalon, Napa and Sonoma. “We are growers, producers, bottlers and exporters of wine,” says Paul Franzia, engineering manager. “This suggests that the complex procedures of winemaking have to be right.”

The problem was the company was growing too fast for its first SCADA software package to keep up. And additional client packages were expensive. “We were using a SCADA product for environmental controls and interfacing it (HMI) with the PLCs that were doing the control,” says Franzia. Communication was sporadic and frequently non-responsive.

As the company grew and more people needed more information, the original software escalated rapidly in cost. “They wanted big dough to re-license each existing client,” commented Franzia. But this wasn’t the only issue. The software supplier’s SCADA and enterprise plant management solution needed to integrate with the databases from other enterprise software applications as well. These included IFS Maintenance Management Software and ProPak. Franzia needed to provide scalability for more than 150 clients in four locations plus remote access for troubleshooting.

The software had to be efficient in the deployment of clients and applications due to the geography. When a new project came on stream, everyone needed to have it-automatically. New clients and access privileges had to be done quickly.

After some research, Bronco chose FactoryPMI from Inductive Automation. The package is a database-centric, enterprise-class plant management and SCADA system that uses Web browsers to launch HMIs. The SQL-based system lets Franzia add users on the fly in real time from anywhere. The system uses a SQL database as its engine and is based on standard software platforms such as Java and OPC. Now Franzia has real-time insight into operations at any location.

“I can be in Napa, and see what’s going on in Ceres right now,” says Franzia. He also has access to the system in his truck as he travels between locations. He adds, “Manual operations are where mistakes happen. We are removing those opportunities so the operators can’t make mistakes.”

The winemakers need historical data, such as temperatures, and analytical data to determine which tank of wine to use for their current schedule. Tank level and temperature sensors are moving toward wireless, and the software will monitor all values and push alerts automatically to the winemakers and managers.

Franzia reports the new software saved Bronco more than $300,000 on client licenses alone, and when it comes to technical support, he says, “We know who we’re dealing with and can put a face on the company.”  When there’s a problem, “they fix it.” But more than that, he says, “It makes me a better manager. Efficiencies have improved upward of 30%, productivity targets are hit everyday, and I can be more responsive to the business and to my managers.”

For more information: Wendi Lynn Hechtman, 800-266-7798, sales@inductiveautomation.com