ITALY: The home of pasta is also the seat of sustainable sauces. From Barilla’s Rubbiano plant, in the heart of the Parma food district, over 150 million jars of ready-made pasta sauce leave every year for tables all over the world. A plant expansion completed in 2019 uses more than 400 gear motors and decentralized drives from Danfoss to reduce complexity, optimize space, and minimize carbon footprint.
The production lines have been built according to the highest standards of safety and respect for the product and people. The Rubbiano plant is equipped with state-of-the-art automation solutions, using the best technologies on the market and Barilla’s extensive knowledge of factory integration and manufacturing resource management.
One of the distinctions of the Rubbiano plant is the complex architecture of its packaging lines, which have been organized to provide maximum flexibility. The complex conveyor system is used to move the jars among the machines and systems in the packaging area – both to sort the different flows of unlabeled semi-finished products among the machines, and to prepare the finished and labeled product for shipment.
Barilla Engineer Mauro Ruozi explains:
“Since the conveyor system is very articulated, we carried out an in-depth study on the components (motors and drives) most suitable for achieving the flexibility and efficiency objectives we had set ourselves. In having to build a system with hundreds of motors to service the many conveyors, there were many aspects to consider: energy efficiency, wiring simplicity, space required on the site and by electrical panels, quick maintenance, ease of cleaning and integration into the factory network.”
Barilla decided to adopt an architecture based on intelligent gear motors distributed along the entire packaging area conveyor system, and integrated into the factory control network.
Danfoss VLT® FlexConcept® proved to be the winning choice. It is a decentralized system (field) combining the high efficiency VLT® OneGearDrive® gear motor and the VLT® Decentral Drive FCD 302 high-performance drive.
More than 400 gear motors and decentralized drives are distributed along the entire conveyor. Because they are mounted directly onto the conveyor itself, the wiring is significantly simplified, notably reducing the space taken up on the line by electrical panels.
All the decentral drives have been networked and integrated into the PLC, which continuously acquires the operational status of the units, based on energy consumption. Networking also makes it possible to reconfigure the operating parameters of the drives when necessary, detect any abnormal conditions, or change the line layout, all in real time.
The experience gained in two years of plant operation has confirmed the success of VLT® FlexConcept® in reducing the number of variants and thus operating costs, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions. The Barilla factory benefits in terms of both reliability and overall economy in total cost of ownership.
Mauro Ruozi attests:
“The use of 400 high-efficiency decentralized gear motors and drives has allowed us to reduce not only energy consumption, but also indirect costs, thanks to using less space for electrical panels and reduced maintenance. Since a single drive model can be used at all points in the plant with rapid remote reconfiguration, we have reduced fixed assets in the spare parts warehouse and speeded up maintenance operations. In addition, thanks to their perfectly smooth surface that is resistant to the most aggressive cleaning agents and disinfectant solutions, VLT® FlexConcept® solutions are perfectly suited for this type of application.”
The same type of Danfoss drive, but installed in electrical panels, has been also been used in the Rubbiano plant to drive some VLT® OneGearDrive® in IP69 K conditions in the kitchen area, complying wi th all the requirements, rules and guidelines concerning washability, hygienic design and resistance to detergent and disinfectant solutions.
Ruozi concludes: "The use of Danfoss solutions has helped us pursue our sustainability goals, and the results have fully confirmed what was predicted in the in-depth benchmarking that drove this choice."