High Speed Bottling

At their bottling plant in Northern Florida, Bacardi produces a wide range of alcoholic beverages based on rum which is imported by sea at high alcohol concentration from Bacardi’s facilities in the Caribbean. At the plant the rum is diluted, flavored, bottled and then distributed across the USA.

While much of the high speed bottling process involves very complex mechanical equipment, it is all dependent on electrical power.

Norther Florida experiences many lightning strikes and can experience hurricanes and storms which create major problems for the reliability of the electrical voltage and these events are beyond the control of the local electrical utilities.

If an unplanned production stoppage occurs due to a voltage sag then it can take up to an hour to resume normal production. Typically the plant would experience around 20 such unplanned production stoppages per year.

Analysis by the local electrical utility revealed that the plant was subject to a large number of voltage sags and it was decided to install an Omniverter AVC unit rated at 2000kVA and 26kV in order to reduce the very costly effects of multiple unplanned production stoppages.

The AVC was mounted in an outdoor enclosure with a hurricane resistant design which proved itself when the plant subsequently suffered from a very close encounter with Hurricane Charley, a category 4 Hurricane.

The power electronics all operate at 480V AC so the outdoor enclosure was permanently divided between a 26KV Medium voltage section containing the AVC 26kV:480V injection transformer and a low voltage section containing the AVC and switchgear. The MV section was locked and interlocked so that no operator could again access when the transformer was energized and the low voltage section was accessible only to a trained operator via a key.

In the first year of AVC operation the plant experienced 490 events below 87% nominal voltage including some events with total loss of power. The AVC corrected 475 of these events but it should be acknowledged that not all of these events would have caused a stoppage. There were multiple events where one or more phase voltages dropped below 60% and the AVC corrected the vast majority of these.

It was judged that the AVC payback period was significantly less than 1 year and once it had been installed, plant costs for replacement electronic circuit boards and electrical maintenance were substantially reduced.