Blog : Yalumba Angaston: Old meets new

Yalumba Line Upgrade

Read about how Yalumba upgraded their wine bottling line to increase productivity, quality and safety with help from automation partner, Foodmach.

Yalumba’s heritage-listed Angaston winery was founded in 1849 in South Australia’s famous Barossa Valley.

Five generations and 168 years later, Yalumba has grown in size and stature, embodying all that has made the Australian wine success story the envy of winemakers the world over. 

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Australia’s oldest family-owned winery upgraded its wine bottling lines, integrating new technology with existing equipment.

The purpose of the upgrade was to increase production capacity, heighten flexibility and maintain product quality and consistency.

The new state-of-the-art bottling lines have helped reduce labour costs and minimise occupational health and safety issues.

Yalumba’s Angaston site has five bottling lines, with the main production on two glass bottling lines which were last updated in the early eighties.

The remaining lines are used for sparkling, cask and other miscellaneous packaging tasks.

Said John Ide, Manager – Winery Operations, at Yalumba: ‘While various pieces of equipment were added over time, the layout of the bottling lines were set up more than thirty years ago, and due to obsolescence and reliability issues, we made the decision to pull everything out and start from scratch with the bottling line.’

‘We also needed to upgrade the depalletisers that move the glass from pallets onto the line and address our ageing conveyors.’

‘One of our key goals was to separate our material flow in and out of the line and hence forklift movement in the main operational areas’, he explained.

The project was taken to tender. Foodmach won on the strength of its experience in the food and beverage industry, together with its innovative approach and design for bottling lines.

The project scope included:

  • Automation, integration and control systems

  • Design and supply of all conveying

  • Manufacture and supply of two new glass depalletisers

The Challenge


Integrate legacy equipment into a new line control system that combines old and new equipment:

Line 1 contained predominantly existing equipment that was relocated with new controls, a new conveyor and new palletisers.

Line 2 was a completely new line with a new de-palletiser, filler and packer.

The existing labeller and palletiser were retained.


Careful consideration of the control interfacing between each machine on the line teamed with appropriate conveyor design and buffering was essential to delivering the highest possible line efficiencies.


A truly flexible depalletising solution allows for fast changeovers from one bottle type or pallet and dunnage format to another.

It should be able to handle local and imported glass on a variety of pallets and offer operator-free operation, robotic dunnage handling, automatic destrapping and ideally, gentle glass handling.

Poorly-designed conveying systems have a significant impact on operating speeds and packaging quality. A customised conveyor solution, able to handle reverse taper bottles, was required.

The Solution

Flexibility and speed

‘Prior to the upgrade, both bottling lines had no integrated automation so basically everything including the conveyors and packers, ran as individual pieces of equipment. We wanted the new lines to be completed integrated’, Ide said.

By controlling both lines with Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix®, this high level of integrated control and automation can be achieved through ethernet communications.

The Line 1 control system feeds back information about the line’s speed and, based on this information, the equipment is able to speed up or slow down.

The capacity of ControlLogix® for this backward integration to the legacy PLCs added significant value to the solution.

The second line is controlled slightly differently in that the filler speed is established and the line itself speeds up or slows down to match the conveying. That is, the filler stays fixed at a determined speed and the conveying ramps up or down to suit. Line 1 conveying is at a fixed speed and the machines ramp up or down to suit.

Ide explained,’This suits our needs because Line 1 is a very flexible line where we can bottle varying amounts and liquids including sparkling, cork, screwcap and crown-sealed bottles, but Line 2 is our high volume line and needs to run at speed. Line 1 can fill between 6000-9000 bottles per hour while Line 2 is set to fill 12,000 bottles per hour of 750ml screw cap bottles.’

Fuss-free integration

The new de-palletiser, manufactured locally by Foodmach, uses servo drives to run the lift motor and sweep where it moves the bottles in a single layer.

‘The de-palletising is a fully automated process which has helped reduce the manual labour at the plant. At the end of the second line, we have a Foodmach Robomatrix® that arranges pallet formation automatically. The control for both lines allows the system to monitor the intake and output of the entire line, speeding it up or slowing it down depending on whether there are any issues, hold-ups or backlogs’, Ide explained.

Producing quality wines

To maintain the flavour and freshness of each bottle of Yalumba wine, dissolved oxygen meters with alarms have been integrated into the bottling line to avoid oxidation. Line 1 contains a carbon dioxide (CO2) meter to measure dissolved CO2 in sparkling wine.

The quality systems are integrated with the SCADA system so data is collected directly with FactoryTalk Transaction Manager. This provides information on the product being bottled through the filtration skid and stores all relevant information about the batch in FactoryTalk Historian for future reference and quality control, thus reducing the risk associated with manual reporting.

The wine bottling and labelling are carried out in an insulated room that is controlled by an air conditioning system. CompactLogix® controls the system so that parameters such as relative humidity, dewpoint and room temperature are monitored on the SCADA system.

(Adapted from an original article in PKN Packaging News)

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