Continuous compliance with PLM.

Adam Bannaghan, technical director of Design Rule, discusses the growing role of PLM in managing quality and compliance.

The advantages of product lifecycle management (PLM) software are widely understood; improved product quality, lower development costs, valuable design data and a significant reduction in waste. However, one benefit that does not get as much attention is PLM’s support of regulatory compliance.

Compliance-PLMNobody would dispute the necessity of regulatory compliance, but in the product development realm it certainly isn’t the most interesting topic. Regardless of its lack of glamour, failure to comply with industry regulations can render the more exciting advantages of PLM redundant.

From a product designer’s perspective, compliance through PLM delivers notable strategic advantages. Achieving compliance in the initial design stage can save time and reduce engineering changes in the long run. What is more, this design-for-compliance approach sets the bar for quality product development, creating a unified standard to which the entire workforce can adhere. What is more, the support of a PLM platform significantly simplifies the compliance process, especially for businesses operating in sectors with fast-changing or complicated regulations.

For example, AS/EN 9100, is a series of quality management guidelines for the aerospace sector, which are globally recognised, but set to change later this year. December 2016 is the target date for companies to achieve these new standards – a fast transition for those managing compliance without the help of dedicated software.

Similarly, the defence industry has its own standards to follow. ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and EAR (Export Administration Regulations) are notoriously strict exporting standards, delivering both civil and criminal penalties to companies that fail to comply.

“Fines for ITAR violations in recent years have ranged from several hundred thousand to $100 million,” explained Kay Georgi, an import/export compliance attorney and partner at law firm Arent Fox LLP in Washington. “Wilful violations can be penalised by criminal fines, debarment, both of the export and government contracting varieties, and jail time for individuals.”

PLM across sectors
The strict nature of all these regulations is not limited to aerospace and defence however. Electrical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and consumer goods are also subject to different, but equally stern, compliance rules.

Despite varying requirements across industries, there are a number of PLM options that support compliance on an industry-specific basis. Dassault Systèmes ENOVIA platform, for example, allows businesses to input compliance definition directly into the program. This ensures that, depending on the industry, the product is able to meet the necessary standards. As an intelligent PLM platform, ENOVIA delivers full traceability of the product development process, from conception right through to manufacturing.

For those in charge of managing compliance, access to this data is incredibly valuable, for both auditing and providing evidence to regulatory panels. By acquiring industry-specific modules, businesses can rest assured that their compliance is being managed appropriately for their sector – avoiding nasty surprises or unsuccessful compliance.

For some industry sectors, failure to comply can cause momentous damage, beyond the obvious financial difficulties and time-to-market delays you might expect. For sensitive markets, like pharmaceutical or food and beverage, regulatory failure can wreak havoc on a brand’s reputation. What’s more, if the uncompliant product is subject to a recall, or the company is issued with a newsworthy penalty charge, the reputational damage can be irreparable.

PLM software is widely regarded as an effective tool to simplify product design. However, by providing a single source of truth for the entire development process, the potential of PLM surpasses this basic function. Using PLM for compliance equips manufacturers with complete data traceability, from the initial stages of design, right through to product launch. What’s more, industry-specific applications are dramatically simplifying the entire compliance process by guaranteeing businesses can meet particular regulations from the very outset.

Meeting regulatory standards is an undisputed obligation for product designers. However, as the strategic and product quality benefits of design-for-compliance become more apparent, it is likely that complying through PLM will become standard practice in the near future.

#PLM @designruleltd #PAuto #Pharma #Food @StoneJunctionPR

Application for Mass flow measurements for those over 18 years old!


When thinking of alcoholic products that are produced in Britain, a fine malt Whiskey may spring to mind or perhaps beer brewed in one of the numerous breweries that can be found dotted around the country. How many people however, would immediately think of Vodka?

English_VodkaWell, nestled in the Herefordshire countryside, the family run Chase distillery (entry only to over 18 year olds!) thinks a lot about Vodka, in fact it produces the award winning Chase Vodka which is the World’s first super premium English potato Vodka.

The entire process from seed to bottle takes place on the Chase estate ensuring that a close eye can be kept on all stages from growing the potatoes to distilling and bottling. It was at the distilling stage that Chase was looking for a flowmeter that was capable of measuring the flow rate of fermented potato mash. After careful consideration, they decided on Krohne’s OPTIMASS 1300 Coriolis mass flowmeter.

The fermentation process is started with the mashing of potatoes and the addition of a brewer’s yeast. After about a week, the fermented potato mash is distilled four times in a bespoke copper batch pot and then twice more in a rectification column. It is here that the OPTIMASS 1300 is installed in a vertical pipe run feeding the distillation column. The density of the medium going through the meter can vary from 0.95 to 1.1kg/litre and flows at a rate of 2000 l/hr with pressure of 1BarG at a temperature of 30C.

Krohne_VodkaWith the available space being limited, Chase required a meter that had a small installation envelope, but could still measure accurately and was capable of being CIP cleaned at 65C. The OPTIMASS 1300 has a dual straight tube design which makes it ideal for use in hygienic applications as there are no crevices or bends for bacteria to gather and the meter can be easily drained and cleaned. Due to the hygienic nature of the application the OPTIMASS 1300 was supplied with hygienic fittings and also has all of the necessary hygienic industry approvals.

Prior to installing the OPTIMASS 1300, Chase used a manual method to monitor the flow of fermented potato mash into the distillation column, however they were looking for a mass flow meter to automate the process. The OPTIMASS 1300 has enabled Chase to monitor the feedstock to finished product ratio accurately and since installation it has also reduced production time by highlighting an underperforming feed pump that was increasing the mash charging time which in turn lengthened the production time.

Tim Nolan, engineering manager at Chase is very pleased with the performance of the OPTIMASS 1300, “Installing the KROHNE meter has meant that we can automate the process and ultimately reduce production time.  It also allows us increased flexibility as we can install the meter on other parts of the process to verify efficiency,” he continues, “KROHNE have supplied us with a meter that complies to our hygienic requirements and has proved to be very reliable.”

Initially, the OPTIMASS 1300 will be used with a local display, however in the future it is planned to interface the meter with the PLC using mA outputs to measure volumetric flow, density and temperature.


ABB Process instrumentation, analytical technology and gas detection in Ireland


Hanley Measurement & Control has built a reputation for the supply of specialist solutions and expertise in process instrumentation, process analytical technology and gas detection. Founded in 1981 it has long been considered as a leading automation in Ireland. The company has recently been appointed as channel partner in Ireland by ABB, to expand its instrument and analyser offering into the Irish process market

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 3 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

Left to Right: Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll & Eoin O’Neill of Hanley Measurement & Control together with Aidan Edwards of ABB stand next to a representation of a 2.4 meter magnetic flowmeter (the largest every supplied!) during a recent visit to the ABB flow meter manufacturing facility in Stonehouse, GB.

The partnership will see the company acting as the official sales agent for ABB’s complete portfolio of instrumentation and analyser products for applications in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage and other related industries.

Chris Kennedy, Managing Director of Hanley Measurement & Control commented that “partnering with ABB enables the company to provide its customers with an enhance product range specifically in relation to flow measurement and analytical solutions.”

Commenting on the partnership, Tim Door, General Manager for ABB’s Measurement and Analytics business in the Britain and Ireland says: “The partnership with Hanley Measurement and Control marks a positive move forward that underlines our intent to grow our presence in the Irish process market. The company is a great fit for our growing range of measurement and control products for improving process performance and efficiency.”

“Utilising a well-known and respected partner such as Hanley Measurement & Control will allow our customers in Ireland to get full access to support and service going forward into 2015 and beyond.”

• Following the completion of a management buyout Hanley Measurement & Control is no longer part of the Hanley group of companies. Hanley Measurement & Control is now a subsidiary of Eolas Scientific which also has an operating company in the UK called Eolas Technology. The management team of Chris Kennedy, Gavin O’Driscoll and Eoin O’Neill are committed to ensuring our customers receive exceptional service and a world class range of products.

A win – win situation: Cost optimisation on both sides!


Silo management for grain mills and their customers!

In Germany alone there are more than 260 large flour mills, in Asia the grain market is significantly greater and a very important industry. All around the world the situation is similar: Well-planned routes and carefully calculated stock levels are vital to achieve max cost optimisation during the material delivery process, however these are more than often jeopardised by daily reality.

UWT Level Instrumentaion is marketed in Ireland by Wolf Process Automation

Bakeries, the customers of the mills, often place their orders to late and the mills are faced with having to supply material immediately in order to avoid production stop at the bakeries. This leads to unnecessary logistics costs caused by multiple deliveries and ultimately to an increase in costs for sides, the supplier and the customer. This is obviously in no one’s interest. But why are we confronted with these “fire-fighting” situations and how can they be avoided?

Lack of storage management in bakeries
Even bakeries with multiple storage silos often do not have an automated level monitoring system to control their inventory levels. Therefore these stocks have to be checked manually on a regular basis and an order has to be triggered to the flour supplier on time. Due to unforeseen fluctuations in demand or simply by not having verified the stock levels sudden emergencies arise that lead to unplanned extra tours for the mill.

Just the installation of sensors for level monitoring in the silos of the bakeries would bring a partial improvement. In this context often the willingness to invest is lacking because “it´s working as it is” regardless of the fact that it is a very costly and inefficient way to do it. But the ideal solution would be that the mills take responsibility of the level monitoring centrally for their customers and offer this as a special service thus optimising their own material and delivery disposition and at the same time reducing the administrative effort involved.

Of course the cost question arises immediately – who should pay?! Or maybe does it pay for itself? In fact, closer analysis shows that the mill’s investment would amortise itself in a relatively short time due to the cost savings brought about by the optimised supply chain process.

Central-level measuring for mills
UWT GmbH are known in the industry as the expert for level measurement in bulk solids and have been providing made-to-measure solutions for many decades. With its long-term experience it has developed an economical and practical solution in the form of a central level-remote system for flour mills. This system works like this:

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

On each silo of the bakery the maintenance-free lot system Nivobob® 4000 is fitted for level monitoring. For easy mounting, just a standard 1.5 inch threaded socket in the silo roof is necessary. At the bakeries the level signals are bundled by the UWT software Nivotec® combined with a Wago WebController and the information received is passed to the Internet using an Ethernet connection via a routed IP address. The mill can securely access this information (password-protected) via any internet browser at any time of the day over a pre-defined IP address). It is possible to include any number of other customers in the visualisation system – without additional hardware or costs for the mill. If the priority is to keep installation at the bakeries to a minimum a GSM modem can be used to remotely access the data. In this case for the data transmission no Ethernet connection is required, but only a SIM card in the WAGO to pass the modem. This modem collects all level signals and sends them in an encrypted log via mobile phone over the Internet to the appropriate controller in the mill. As only small amounts of data are being sent is a low priced SIM contract sufficient for this purpose.

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualization software Nivotec®

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualisation software Nivotec®

The current silo levels can be displayed at the mill control center using the UWT Nivotec® visualisation software which can be accessed via the Internet browser on any Ethernet PC. The controller can see the real-time status of the silos because the visualisation controller is directly integrated into the Ethernet system.

Advantages and benefits of the level-remote system:
The benefit of the whole system is the simplification of the material disposition processes leading to a reduction of costs for all parties involved.

  • The installation of the system in the bakery as well as in the mill is straightforward and can usually be carried out by the mills own service engineers
  • Control cabinets only have to be set-up once; afterwards no additional IT support is necessary.
  • All silo levels can be visualised at the same time
    -> material planning security
  • The system can be dismantled at one customer and installed again at another  -> no new costs when customers change

The mill is able to hold the correct material in stock according to the customer’s material requirements and can optimise the logistical routes and schedules. Simply the availability of the required information which can avoid the need for express deliveries or empty runs can reduce the administrative effort dramatically. On the customer side, at the bakery, the task of manually checking the material level within the storage silos is eliminated and production bottlenecks due to a lack of material are history.

The material flow now follows a standard process with much greater planning security: Last but not least it naturally leads to a more harmonious working relationship and increased satisfaction on both sides which ultimately mean a stronger partnership between customer and supplier.

Smart solution with frequency sweep technology – A level switch for all media!


Fill levels must be recognized in countless storage, buffer and holding tanks in the process industry, food industry, and even in wind power plants or other fields.

The level switches used are normally as different as the various media being monitored. With the CleverLevel LBFS/LFFS switch, Baumer has developed a true all-rounder that uses frequency sweep technology. This method capitalizes on the fact that every material, regardless of its consistency, has a dielectric constant specific to that medium. This makes the new level switch suitable for practically all media, including liquids, granulates and even electrostatic media. At the same time, it is unaffected by adhesive substances or foams that may lead to switching errors with other technologies. Furthermore, it can distinguish between different media. This makes the CleverLevel more than merely a replacement for the traditional vibrating fork used in level control. Configuration is possible using Teach-in. It is more convenient with Flex Programmer software, which enables visualization at the same time. The displayed information can be communicated to a higher-level controller if required and interpreted there in accordance with the operation phase.

Figure 1: Level control in a container.

Level detection is of great importance in the process industry. They monitor maximum and minimum values of material fill levels in tanks or as protection against overflow or dry operation. A number of limit switches are available, based on different technologies. The specific application determines the selection, because until now it was not possible to cover all applications with one level switch. Things are different now. A new level switch that uses frequency sweep technology now proves to be a practice-oriented all-rounder for almost every conceivable medium.

The demands on level switches can vary considerably, depending upon application. There are therefore numerous application-specific factors to consider, such as foam formation, aggressiveness or flammability of the media to be detected, adhesive substances, unfavorable installation conditions, the speed of the filling process and, naturally, the accuracy required.

The widely used vibrating forks do not necessarily offer the best conditions. Some have quite large components that extend far into the material being measured. Measuring errors can arise, since high viscosity materials tend to stick to these forks. Coarse granular media can easily become lodged between the forks and also cause measuring errors. The forks and difficult to clean and liquid and powder substances require different versions. It was impossible to cover all applications with one level switch, until now.

Figure 2: The CleverLevel series of level switches use frequency sweep technology and can reliably detect extremely different media. The readings are not affected by adhesive substances or foam.

Versatile sensor with elegant configuration
Now the Baumer CleverLevel series of level switches fill this gap. They are based on frequency sweep technology. The sensor analyses the resonance frequency of the oscillating circuit affected by the dielectric constant of the medium below the sensor tip. This allows adhesive substance on the sensor tip or foam to be suppressed. High sensitivity over a large measurement range for dielectric constants from 1.5 to over 100 enables limit detection for all sorts of powders, granulates and liquids. And setup is easy.

The default setting already recognizes most media. The Teach-in function helps in case of doubt and more complex configuration becomes child’s play with the FlexProgrammer software, because the user can practically “see” the same thing as the sensor. The switching range can be adjusted as required to ignore foams in maximum or minimum monitoring, for example. The same applies if the sensor needs to ignore adhesive substances. Tanks with liquid chocolate are a typical example. Even when empty, the sensor and container walls are coated with chocolate. When configured accordingly, the CleverLevel still switches only when the tank is really full or empty. Electrostatic adhesion, which must frequently be taken into account in the detection of powdery substances, can also be ignored by appropriate definition of the switching range.

The simple, graphic configuration software really adds to the user-friendliness. For example, it is possible to observe the sensor’s internal signal while the thresholds are adjusted by mouse click within the graphic representation. This not only makes the configuration method intuitive and thus easily learned, but also considerably improves the reliability of the results, because they can be checked graphically at any time. This is also possible with extended setting methods that take medium conductivity into account, even if two media have the same dielectric constant.

Even different media in the same process line or process tank can be detected in order to differentiate the end product. For example, different types of fish sauce, different beers, etc. For this purpose a measuring signal can be output so that different dielectric constants through different media, foams or adhesive substances can be differentiated in the control. This makes it possible to detect if a medium is polluted with another medium, e.g. oil polluted with water.

Figure 3: Supported by the FlexProgrammer, the CleverLevel series can perform even complex filling level detection tasks.

Assessment of measurement results and maintenance planning
The information that is visualized with the help of software can also be transferred to the higher-level controller. It can then evaluate the measuring signal. It ultimately knows if the position of the switching point shifts because another medium is in the tank during flushing, for example. Dirt in the tank can also be detected in this way and cleaning can be scheduled accordingly. Today, many application areas are dependent upon this information. Wind power plants are a typical example of this, because “spontaneous” maintenance of lubricant containers is extremely costly and can only be carried out at unjustifiable expense. The same applies to locomotives, ships or mobile implements in agriculture, for example.

A further strength of the level-monitoring sensor is particularly evident in mobile tanks. It normally works with a response time of 0.1 sec., which permits high-speed filling processes and the precise maintenance of filling levels. However, this becomes a disadvantage if the tank is in motion and the contents slosh around. In such cases, a switching delay of up to 10 sec. can be set to avoid false signals due to tank movement.

Figure 4: Using the Flex Programmer software, the switching range can be adjusted as required to ignore foam during maximum or minimum monitoring.

Robust, hygienic, with ATEX approval
But the new CleverLevel series offers even more. The level switches can be installed in any position, even in rather inaccessible locations. The LED that signals the switching process is highly visible in all directions. The sensor works silently, compliance with protection class IP67 requirements is standard, and it is suitable for ambient temperatures between -40°C und +200°C. Operation is also unaffected by vibrations. For example, the latter is important if the level switch is placed close to a pump as protection against dry running. The small penetration depth of only 15 mm is also a positive feature in these circumstances. Flow and pressure are hardly affected. In addition, thanks to gap-free installation and the smooth tip, nothing can adhere to the sensor.

In addition to the industrial process connections, there are also versions with EHEDG approval and an ATEX version for Ex areas for applications with stringent hygiene requirements. There are countless application possibilities for this all-rounder level switch. The food and beverage industry can benefit from its possibilities as much as every other industry, from pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petrochemicals, and process engineering all the way to the water supply and wastewater fields. Further areas of application are found in wind power plants, mobile machinery, cereal mills or cleaning facilities and pumping systems.

Figure 5: There are countless areas of application for this fill level sensor all-rounder, such as filling liquid chocolate.

Thrilling results for nutrient monitors!


Commenting on the results of a 4 month trial of nutrient monitors, Hach Lange’s John Moroney says he is “absolutely thrilled” with the report on his company’s instruments which outperformed the competition in almost every measure.

Hach Lange Ammonia & Phosphate Monitors

The levels of nutrients, such as ammonium and phosphates, entering natural water resources is of great concern because these nutrients can either remove vital oxygen or lead to excessive plant growth and algal blooms, which harm wildlife through eutrophication. In addition, high levels of phosphate or nitrate in abstracted water significantly add to the cost of drinking water treatment. The management of nutrient levels is therefore dependent on the ability to monitor accurately and reliably, and as a result, a group of British water companies organised a joint monitoring trial to determine the best instruments.

Trial results
The trial involved the installation of turbidity, phosphate and ammonium monitors from the market’s leading manufacturers at two designated final effluent plants within Britain. Hach Lange provided an AMTAX sc ammonium analyser, a PHOSPHAX sc phosphate analyser and a SOLITAX sc turbidity analyser for the trial.

The SOLITAX sc performed better than any of its competitors and as a result, Severn Trent Water has adopted the instrument in a framework agreement.

Summarising the report on the AMTAX sc and PHOSPHAX sc, John Moroney says “We are delighted to report that these analysers came first in almost all of the key performance measures, which included correlation to diurnal data, variance to laboratory data, and maintenance requirements. However, the panel decided to take the List Price as opposed to current framework prices for the commercial part of the assessment. However, the overall results are extremely encouraging and I know that our customers are very impressed with the technical performance of these units coupled with such low levels of maintenance. The manufacturers did not have access to their equipment during the trial, but over the 4 month period, the AMTAX required 2 hours of maintenance and the PHOSPHAX just one hour!”

Monitoring nutrients at a reduced cost from inlet to effluent
The whole life costs of the Amtax sc for Ammonium and Phosphax sc for orthophosphate have been drastically reduced as a result of the chemistries employed. With the Amtax sc, a gas sensing electrode is utilised which means that reagent consumption is halved in comparison with traditional colorimetric analysers. For the Phosphax sc, the stability of the vanado-molybdate method, means that calibration is not necessary and therefore no calibration standards are required.

The results of this trial will be of great interest to process managers who have to comply with tighter discharge consents as a result of the Water Framework Directive. Couple this with the fact that Hach Lange can now offer sample preparation systems that deliver continuous samples from the inlet all the way through to final effluent, John Moroney firmly believes these analysers lead the way in reliability, accuracy, stability and the lowest whole-life costs.

What’s best for preserving wine: Vacuum or Pressure?

One of our favourite eating places, Mitchels of Clifden – google it –  boasts of a system which allows the contents of wine bottles once opened to remain fresh and drinkable. We sometimes wondered how this happened and now we know thanks to this application note.

Serious wine buffs have often asked them- selves the question, ‘what’s better for preserving wine – pressure or a vacuum?’ However, Dick Berresford, managing director of Bermar, believes that, given the right technology, you can combine the best of both worlds. It was for this reason that he turned to specialist switch distributor PVL whose head of sales and marketing, David Almond explains how the Bermar uses its technology. Perhaps better known for its brand name, Le Verre de Vin, the market for Bermar’s wine cabinets is found in hotels, restaurants and bars where wine is served by the glass in 82 countries around the world. Every three star Michelin restaurant in Britain uses Bermar equipment, as do over 800 Whitbread pubs.

After opening, the wine remaining in a bottle initially has a rapid oxygen consumption rate, which means that most chemical changes occur to the contents within the first couple of days. The process slows progressively thereafter, but by then the damage is done; damage that is irreversible and is simple to spot by smelling or tasting the wine. The first chemical compound formed when oxygen reacts with the ethanol in a wine is acetaldehyde. At low levels it can make a wine taste ‘flat’ and vapid and it is also responsible for the loss of a wine’s fresh fruity taste. Further exposure to oxygen converts the acetaldehyde into Acetic Acid, the most common of all volatile acids and one of the common, sour tasting carbonic acids which form the main constituent of vinegar.

Oxygen and phenolics
The final chemical change takes place long after a wine should have been discarded (usually within five to ten days). The reaction between oxygen and the phenolics in the wine causes the wine to change colour, moving to amber and finally to a brackish brown.

“We buy switches from PVL for two purposes: one is to create a sub-atmospheric pressure or vacuum in bottled still wine, and the other is to create a super-atmospheric pressure or compression of carbon dioxide inside Champagne or sparkling wine bottles,” explains Berresford.

“We have the only Champagne preservation system in the world. We incorporate PVL switches into a range of nine different preservation systems. The equipment is used for all wines including those at the lower end of the market.
“If a restaurateur offers guests a choice of 20 different wines by the glass, he doesn’t want to compromise their quality. As long as he re-seals each bottle after every glass sold, it will give him a 21-day shelf life. Even if he is selling wines in the £3 to £8 a glass range, he can still get a significant profit boost in the same way Michelin three star restaurants sell wine at £50 to £100 a glass would.”

Pinpoint control
But wouldn’t it be better to compress an inert gas like carbon dioxide into a still wine bottle instead of evacuating it? Berresford argues that, because of the pinpoint control provided by PVL’s – switches, the benefits of this are replicated irrespective of the amount of wine remaining in a bottle. In order to provide more than adequate preservation in over 95% of cases, only a vacuum is needed.

He adds: “There is the possibility of using inert gasses in combination with vacuum, and we have patented systems under a different brand, which also include PVL switches. It is only sold selectively at the moment but will form the next generation of equipment.
“We’ve been successful in making people understand why a cabinet costing two grand is better than using a £10 hand operated vacuum pump. Our second largest market is China, where they have an inordinate passion for wine. They have cornered the Bordeaux fine wine market, particularly the wine futures exchanges like Liv-ex, where you can speculate on wines like you can on pork bellies.”

Eccentric distribution
“I sometimes think that all French wine would be in the hands of the Chinese was it not for France’s very eccentric method of distributing wine. For instance, a ‘First Growth’ Château like Lafite produces a fixed number of cases each year for world consumption. You can only buy their wine in tranches through a series of channels. Provided you pay the right price for a particular amount then you get the right to the same amount of wine.
“This dates back to the days when wine producers were not the same people as the distributors and they wanted to have known markets for their wines. A distributor, or négociant, would take all the production of a Château whether the vintage was good, bad or indifferent.”

Prior to founding Bermar, Dick Berresford had an engineering company in Ipswich and a fellow wine lover told him about the problem he had keeping wine fresh after it had been uncorked. They started working with a Master of Wine (MW) from Greene King Brewery, one of only 212 MWs in the world at the time, as well as a firm of analytical chemists.

“You can imagine the conundrum with the MW saying: ‘I don’t care what the chemists say, this wine is flat.’ The instruments were pitched at oxidation levels, not the other degradation factors affecting the wine,” continues Berresford.

“Phenols and esters are basically the elements that give wine its fruit and body, and excessive vacuum draws them out of the wine, which an expert wine taster would describe as ‘flabby’ or ‘lifeless’. It took a couple of years of dabbling on and off and when we finally did a blind tasting the best tasting notes were on a 15-day old Château Margaux. We basically slowed the breathing process from a few hours to 15 days.” Vacuum based wine preservation is an exact science. To guarantee performance, the system must be able to create a precise, repeatable level of vacuum, and this is where PVL’s switches play a role. The equipment mustn’t over-evacuate the bottle as this will damage the delicate phenols and esters that make up much of the body and bouquet of the wine.

The system must also not ‘under- evacuate’ the bottle either, as too much oxygen means the wine continues to oxidise. Until a quantifiable, minimum vacuum is achieved, the technique achieves no preservation whatever – which is the reason that some hand vacuum pumps are described as producing ‘hit and miss’ results.

To allow use by inexperienced operators, the system must have a cut-off switch that is quickly and automatically triggered to ensure precision control, and to eliminate the risk of accidental over or under vacuuming.

This is where PVL’s switches excel: the system must incorporate a pneumatic ‘balancing’ technique that ensures the precise level of vacuum is created within the open bottle, each and every time the system is used and irrespective of the amount of wine remaining inside. Performance criteria here are +/- 1% accuracy. The system must also use proven, specialist ‘vacuum’ stoppers that create an effective, semi-permanent seal to prevent air seeping into the bottle.

Champagnes & sparkling wines
The boffins in white coats in Reims, the home of Champagne, recently confirmed that ‘there are 30 times more flavour-en-hancing chemicals in the bubbles than in the rest of the wine’. This goes some way to explaining why the traditional Champagne method of production tastes so much better, and the debate has inevitably swung to the best ways to protect open bottles of Champagne and sparkling wines.

The finer and more plentiful the bubbles, the more of the taste and flavour of the Champagne will be conveyed to the drinker. During the secondary fermentation process, yeast converts the sugar to alcohol (the ‘kick’) and carbon dioxide (CO2) to bubbles (the ‘pop’). The CO2 is gradually dissolved and trapped inside the Champagne bottle. Once the lees (discarded yeast waste and other residue) are removed from the bottle it is then essential that the bottle remains completely airtight or the famous ‘sparkle’ will be lost.

As with all wines, one of the biggest threats to an opened bottle of Champagne comes from the air – or more particularly from the oxygen (O2) contained within. Champagne however is also at immediate risk from the loss of the pressure retaining device (the cork), that has kept the sparkle in since it was produced.

“This dates back to the days when wine producers were not the same people as the distributors and they wanted to have known markets for their wines. A distributor, or négociant, would take all the production of a Château whether the vintage was good, bad or indifferent.”

The carbon dioxide pressure in an unopened Champagne bottle can reach more than 140 pounds per square inch – about twice the pressure used to inflate a double-decker bus tyre. This is the reason that Champagne bottles are so strong and heavy. Once the flow of carbon dioxide has slowed, the process of oxidation takes over as the major threat to the Champagne.

From a combination of the second law of thermodynamics and the laws of partial pressures of gases, it is possible to accurately estimate the rate of oxidation of the Champagne remaining within a part-consumed bottle. This is influenced by temperature, alcohol content and the volume of available oxygen. The whole exercise becomes rather academic any- way if the Champagne has already lost its sparkle.

The Champagne stopper creates an air tight seal stopping carbon dioxide leaving a part consumed bottle. Unfortunately the oxygen that is trapped in the bottle when the stopper is applied will remain in direct contact with the Champagne, and oxidise it at a calculable rate.

The major flaw with this technique is that the Champagne remaining in the bottle will continue to release carbon dioxide (it’s ‘sparkle’), until a ‘pressure equilibrium’ is created within the bottle. If the bottle contains a large volume of liquid, then the pressure equilibrium may be achieved with only minor bubble loss from the Champagne. As the volume of liquid in the a smaller amount of liquid has to emit a larger volume of carbon
dioxide before the pressure equilibrium is reached.

Therefore Champagne stoppers can be effective for short term preservation provided there is a sufficient quantity left in the bottle and it has not been allowed to lose its natural CO2 by being left open for too long before resealing. As a general rule, anywhere from two thirds of a bottle down and this technique becomes less and less reliable. The number of times a bottle is opened is also significant – the more often, the worse the effect.

“Manufacturers of hand operated and battery pumps claim that the introduction of air under pressure will prevent oxidation and bubble loss in opened bottles of Champagne, which is bizarre” claims Berresford. “The logic seems to run that air, or rather all its constituent gases, can be used to ‘lock’ carbon dioxide in a solution. As the pressure of air in the bottle is increased, the solubility of each gas within the air increases – the result is that oxygen within the air will be even more quickly absorbed into the Champagne, actually accelerating the oxidation of the drink!”

Henry’s Law
Henry’s Law states that solubility is significantly increased in liquids at low temperatures such as the serving and storing temperature of Champagne. It is also worth remembering that hand pump type gadgets
do not have filters to scrub the airborne contaminants in the air being forced under pressure out of the Champagne.

CO2 is the only gas that can be used in the Le Verre de Vin’s super-atmospheric re-sealing process, since, quite logically; it is the only gas with the same molecular structure as the CO2 in the Champagne itself. The ‘structure’ is important, since gases don’t behave like liquids or solids – the only effective way to create the-pressure balance so important in the preservation technique, is with an identical gas.

Applying ‘exactly’ the right pressure of CO2 using a PVL switch means that the natural fizz in the Champagne is locked in place – and Le Verre de Vin achieves the optimum reseal pressure on each and every bottle with over 99% accuracy. The science behind this has resulted in Le Verre de Vin being awarded worldwide patents and achieving international recognition as ‘The Industry Standard for preservation’.

Wine begins to oxidise as soon as the cork is removed.
By removing the oxygen to a precisely controlled level Le Verre de Vin technology effectively preserves wine without any risk to it’s subtle structure.