Visualization and control of the process of fruit ripening at the Finnish company Inex Partners Oy

January 21, 2019 | Reliance SCADA

Inex Partners Oy is a Finnish company specializing in the warehousing and transportation of grocery products. Its headquarters is in the city of Espoo, Finland. The company, which has over 2,000 employees, is a subsidiary of SOK Corporation and thus part of S Group, a Finnish network of companies operating in the retail and service sectors. The group has a total of 1,697 stores and employs over 43,000 staff members.

In 2013, Inex Partners decided to build a new distribution center for Finland. Four years later, the enormous size of the center allowed building 40 ripening rooms, of which 13 rooms are used for 24 pallets of bananas, 24 rooms for 40 pallets of bananas, and 3 rooms for 24 pallets of exotic fruits (mangoes, avocados, papayas).

All ripening rooms are cooled with a water-glycol solution provided by a large cooling plant on site. Extra-low–temperature glycol is used for ripening the exotic fruits.

In 2017, a system designed to visualize and control the ripening process was installed by the Dutch company De Laat Koudetechniek.

Control system

The control system consists of Siemens SIMATIC S7-1200 PLCs and the Reliance SCADA/HMI system. The whole Reliance project is based on templates, which allow the operating personnel to dynamically switch between visualization windows.

To measure air in all ripening rooms, a hose is connected from each room to a central control cabinet, which sucks air out of the room into the cabinet where it is analyzed by three sensors:

  • C2H4 sensor, which determines the amount of ripening gas in a room
  • O2 sensor, which measures the level of oxygen
  • CO2 sensor, which measures the level of carbon dioxide

This data is transmitted between the central measurement PLC and the ripening room PLCs over TCP/IP.

Also, a Ripe-Pro gas mixing unit is installed at the distribution center. It is used to extract nitrogen from the air and to mix it with pure ethylene. The resulting mixture (4% ethylene, 96% nitrogen) is supplied to the ripening room (4 % is the maximum allowed because of explosion and toxic hazards).

Examples of visualization windows

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Inex Partners Oy, Finland

Inex Partners Oy