Leading premium wine company Accolade Wines and technology firm MOVUS have joined forces on a world-first project. Accolade Wines is trialling MOVUS’ FitMachine technology at Berri Estates, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest grape processor.
Powered by AI and machine learning, FitMachine is tracking the health and fitness of wine processing equipment in real time. This helps Accolade optimise operations and avoid downtime while continuing to deliver some of the most loved Australian wines to the world.
The project is a first for the company and for the wine industry.
‘The installation of the FitMachine at Berri Estates is a new chapter in machine learning for the wine industry and extends our commitment to manufacturing excellence in Australia and around the world,’ says Derek Nicol, Accolade Wines’ Chief Supply Chain Officer.
‘Accolade Wines’ investment in artificial intelligence is a clear indication of the company’s commitment to introduce new technologies to our production processes to help deliver some of the most efficient production of wine anywhere in the world,’ he adds.
‘The most recent investment in South Australia’s Riverland demonstrates our commitment to Australian excellence. This latest development helps bring more Australian wine to consumers in Australia, the Asia-Pacific and around the world.’
A global wine producer with Australian roots
While Accolade Wines is a relatively young company, its history runs deep. It has a proud heritage that includes some of the first wineries established in Australia. Hardys, a brand that pioneered the great tradition of wine blending, crushed its first grapes in 1853. The roots of Accolade Wines’ flagship Western Australian brand, Houghton, go back to the mid-1830s. Houghton is the third oldest wine brand in Australia and the first brand to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Western Australia.
The company is a big exporter. Accolade Wines’ annual output of 276 million litres of wine is available in 140 countries. Its Berri Estates winery in South Australia is the largest grape processor in the Southern Hemisphere. This facility alone exports over 100 million litres of wine around the world annually.
Zero tolerance for outages
Many manufacturing industries operate around-the-clock throughout the year. The wine industry is different. Peak production runs between January and April. Grapes are brought to the factory, processed into wine and bottled.
Maintenance in years gone by is far from the cutting edge of today’s AI-led revolution. In earlier times, engineers walked around the factory and manually checked the equipment.
With so much at stake, however, Accolade Wines wanted a more rigorous way to check its equipment’s health.
Smart, real-time monitoring from MOVUS
This is where MOVUS comes in. The Queensland company offers monitoring solutions made in South Australia for equipment such as compressors, fans, motors and pumps.
MOVUS’ flagship product is FitMachine, a sensor array that can be self-installed on machines. The sensor tracks the machine’s vibration, noise and temperature. A machine learning algorithm analyses this data to generate the equipment’s unique ‘profile’.
‘This calibration cycle is when the sensor gets to know the machine,’ explains Parsons. ‘This includes how it vibrates, its temperature variances and the noises it makes.’
Users can track the fitness of all tagged machines on a dashboard.
‘FitMachine allows businesses to understand accurately and in real time their equipment’s fitness,’ says Parsons. ‘They can act when their equipment’s behaviour changes, rather than when it breaks down.’
Accolade Wines and MOVUS are both Austrade clients. The agency introduced the two companies in March 2021. They agreed to trial FitMachine at Berri Estates.
Improving equipment maintenance
Parsons and a MOVUS engineer visited Berri Estates to scope the work in May 2021. The facility has 1,500 tanks and 3 automated production lines producing 85,000 casks a day.
‘We worked with Accolade Wines to identify which machines, if they were to fail, could cause a serious outage,’ says Parsons. ‘Not all machines will take a whole plant down. Some might only affect a certain process line. It was important for us to understand their processes in different production lines.’
Accolade Wines started trialling FitMachine at the Berri facility in late July 2021.
‘We’ve deployed 10 FitMachine units on the most business-critical machines,’ says Parsons. ‘These include compressors, motors and separators, which separate the crushed grapes from the liquid. Preventing even the smallest outage will be huge for Accolade Wines.’
The proof-of-value trial will continue until July 2022. Starting now allows Accolade Wines to build knowledge about their machines before the peak period. It also gives the company time to address any issues.
Lower costs, minimal downtime and more sustainable operations
Accolade Wines expects the MOVUS solution to:
- Reduce unplanned downtime. FitMachine monitors equipment 24/7 and sends alerts to engineers if machines need attention. This means Accolade Wines can act to pre-empt machine failures and ensure continuous operation.
- Lower maintenance costs. Accolade Wines can adopt a condition-based maintenance schedule and help avoid costly repairs. The company can also plan ahead to source replacement parts that often come from overseas.
- Ensure sustainable operations. The MOVUS solution will help ensure machines are working efficiently. Efficient machines consume less energy, lowering power use and costs.
Next stop: Europe’s largest wine production facility
Accolade Wines will trial FitMachine at The Park, its award-winning bottling plant in Bristol, the UK. The Park is the largest production, warehouse, distribution and innovation centre for wine in Europe. It is the regional hub from which Accolade Wines supplies customers across mainland Europe. Accolade Park can process 1,200 bottles per minute or over 1 million bottles a day.
‘We’re honoured a global company like Accolade Wines has selected our solution,’ says Parsons. ‘It builds trust and credibility for us in the wine industry.’
MOVUS exports to 14 countries and is looking for new markets with Austrade’s help. It is targeting industries that operate on a seasonal production basis, including wine and cotton.
‘Austrade’s teams on the ground in the UK have been enormously valuable,’ says Parsons. ‘Austrade has been more than helpful. They know the markets well. Its teams are willing to jump on the phone any time … that’s gold.’
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