Sustainable Energy Management in Food Production

Partner: ERST Elektro- und Regeltechnik Steiner, Location: Sinnersdorf, Styria


How traditional Austrian fare can be frozen sustainably and efficiently using the power of the sun.

The Styrian family-run business Meisterfrost manufactures sweet and spicy products using traditional Austrian recipes. The freshest ingredients, mainly regionally sourced foodstuffs, in conjunction with many years of experience and home-cooking tradition guarantee products of the highest quality. The brand Meisterfrost is sold directly and also as an external brand. The company has been using sustainable solar and hydro-based energy supplies for many years. In order to maximize the efficiency of energy generation and its use, the photovoltaic system and the transformer sub-station were networked using evon XAMControl at the beginning of 2020. This lay the groundwork for a smart energy management system.

Minimum effort, maximum control

It was already possible to monitor the 26 power inverters (Fronius and SMA) individually before evon XAMControl was installed. However, data comparison, analysis and the management of faults were time-intensive, error-prone and tedious. Comparing the generated data was a labour-intensive exercise. The occurrence of faults and interruptions was not always registered. Trouble-shooting and problem fixing was only possible on-site because the PV plant was not networked with the system resulting in trouble-shooting to find the source of the fault being very time-intensive.
The installation of evon XAMControl in a virtual environment enabled all transformer sub-stations and the PV inverters to be clearly arranged in a single system. Fault and alarm notifications and their exact locations are now immediately displayed and transmitted via SMS and e-mail. This has the effect of considerably reducing the reaction time and of simultaneously minimizing the effort for fault localization.
All transformer outputs were equipped with WAGO measurement clamps. This enabled the continuous acquisition of energy consumption data and made the detailed documentation of permanent measurement of power possible. For the first time, evon XAMControl also enabled the entire building management for heating, cooling and ventilation to be monitored centrally. The controllers (Omron) in the existing plant were easily integrated into XAMControl via Modbus-TCP.

Climate-neutral production

Continuous data checks are crucial, since the company is subject to OeMAG requirements (processing center for green electricity) and must feed a defined proportion of the energy generated into the public grid. Even though this means that the company cannot access the total amount of energy available, todays’ production already runs completely on solar power and is thus CO2-neutral.

Keeping a cool head

In the future, dynamic controllers based on evon XAMControl will be able to take advantage of the legislative tolerance of +/- two degrees in the cold-room. This will enable any energy surplus to be used to cool the cold-rooms down to and hold it at the minimum permissible temperature instead of feeding the surplus energy into the public grid. The precise monitoring and documentation of the temperature in cold-rooms plays a major role in IFS-verified companies (International Feature Standards). The temperature checks are mandatory to comply with the HACCP guidelines (HACCP - Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) for food safety.

Sunny outlook

Over the next five years, approximately 50% of the energy generated will be fed into the public grid. After that, the company’s own power requirements will be covered to 100%. Up until then, the time will be used to work out and optimize a concept for efficient energy management. The goal is to achieve the climate- neutral cooling of all products using the energy generated by the PV plants.

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