When Elite Control Systems completed the final commissioning of a turnkey software control system for The Macallan’s new distillery, it was an engineering achievement carried out on behalf of Edrington for The Macallan, its single malt whisky.
Edrington invested a tremendous amount of thought and planning before finalising its vision: to create a visually striking piece of architecture that would blend into the Speyside hills, while providing the production capability to meet customer demand for The Macallan for generations to come.
To make certain that its production capability is both reliable and adaptable, Edrington broke from tradition. Instead of constructing a traditional distillery that features one main production facility, The Macallan distillery features three individual production “pods”. There are many advantages to this design. Having three production pods means that production needn’t stop when maintenance schedules demand. The distillery enables production of The Macallan to increase by one third, if required.
From a controls perspective, the three-pod design means a much more complex system than normal was required. The real challenge, however, was developing a system to manage the production interfaces alongside all of the sequencing, interlocking, etc. that is required between each of the pods. These pods operate and interface both individually and collectively with the distillery’s single mash house.
Once the commissioning checks were completed, and the control system was deemed fully operational, the distillery was nearly ready to begin production. Given the complexity of a distillery with three production pods, the required control system represented a different way of working for both Edrington and Elite. Throughout the construction of the plant and development of the control system, Elite had a dedicated team of engineers working alongside both the main contractor and Edrington’s engineers. Elite housed their engineering team in their own cottage minutes from the site, helping facilitate communications and teamwork. For months beforehand, Elite had worked closely with Edrington’s engineers to ensure that everyone was fully aware as to how the control system would operate, allowing production to commence as planned.
The project progressed and Edrington commenced ready for production in November 2017, running its first spirit in December 2017. Since then, Edrington has operated all aspects of the plant from the main onsite control room. Should Edrington require added assistance, Elite can also monitor the status of the control system from its base in Livingston.
“To realise The Macallan vision, it was essential that we work with a trusted systems integrator we could rely upon to operate this innovative, yet extremely complicated distillery,” said George McKenzie, UK Engineering Manager for Edrington. “Elite had worked for The Macallan and other Edrington distilleries previously, so we were confident in their ability to design a reliable control system. In the end, Elite lived up to our expectations, and were both responsive and flexible throughout.”