System 800xA with Smart Client at Absolut Vodka distillery

Trend data, asset monitoring and information management help maintain the product’s worldwide reputation


Distilling is a complicated and delicate process. The world-famous Absolut vodka is under the stringent control and monitoring of System 800xA extended automation system.

Meeting the demands of a competitive spirits market

The global success of Absolut Vodka is due to more than an advertising campaign described by Advertising Age as “one of the 20th century’s best.” The special autumn wheat grown in the fertile fields of southern Sweden plus a delicate distillation process play a big part in giving the final product its distinctive soft grain character.

Previously owned by Vin&Sprit, a Swedish government company, The Absolut Company was acquired by Pernod Ricard in 2008. Absolut Vodka was launched in the USA in 1979 and in Sweden in 1981. The special autumn wheat used to produce the soft grain character vodka is grown in the fields of southern Sweden. Some 80,000 tonnes are harvested every year and delivered to the distillery in Nöbbelöv. The pure spirit is then transported by road to the factory in the near-by town of Åhus where flavourings are added before it is poured into the world-famous bottles as 40 percent vodka.

The ABB Freelance controller environment is successfully controlling the Absolut Company destillery production for many years. Now step by step 3rd party PLCs are replaced by AC 800F and so become part of the DCS.

To ensure success of its product, The Absolut Company recently upgraded the operator environment to System 800xA at the Nöbbelöv distillery just a few miles outside Åhus in the south of Sweden.

Besides helping them meet the overall future demands of a tough and competitive spirits market, System 800xA’s trend function specifically makes it easier for operators to spot process deviations quickly and make the necessary adjustments.

Main facts

Industry Food and beverage manufacturing
Customer Absolut Vodka
Country Sweden

Redundant System 800xA with

To ensure high quality and taste expected of this internationally-famous brand, the company recently upgraded the operator environment to System 800xA

Key process trends easier to monitor and evaluate

Easy-to-understand trend data now allows operators to see and correct deviations in the sensitive fermentation process. “If something goes wrong and cannot be corrected in time, we not only might loose a whole day’s production, we must also discard what has so far been produced,” says Johnny Ståhl. “However, System 800xA’s trend function now allows us to monitor important key values in a much better way than before. In addition, such information is also visualized on a large screen. This helps our multi-disciplinary team see what is happening and suggest actions, especially in critical situations,” he adds with obvious satisfaction.
Key values visualized on a big screen help multi-disciplinary team see what is happening and suggest actions in critical situations

Increased process reliability and efficiency

Several other System 800xA functions help The Absolut Company optimize its operations. Asset monitoring, for example, signals the need for plant object (equipment) maintenance and generates diagnostic reports that help maintenance staff proactively remedy the detected problem before it disrupts production. 

System 800xA history data also help operators optimize process efficiency by displaying how energy is utilized over time. Today, the Absolut distillery consumes just over one kilowatthour of energy per liter of pure alcohol, making it the world’s most efficient.
Diagnostic reports help maintenance staff proactively remedy detected problem before it disrupts production

Smart Client improves information flow

Project Manager Anders Andersson is keen to point out the value of System 800xA Smart Client. This is a System 800xA function that allows access to process automation system data wherever an operator (or other authorized employee) is stationed and whenever it is needed. Before System 800xA, this was only possible by scanning a variety of different systems, which was time-consuming and prone to manual error. Now, for example, Smart Client quickly identifies alarms and bottlenecks in the system, giving operators the opportunity to act quickly and efficiently.

“By using Smart Client, we can easily access process-specific data on the computers in our offices,” Anders enthuses. “Our ultimate goal is to integrate our business systems, weighing systems and laboratory systems with System 800xA.” Bearing in mind the enormous integration capabilities of System 800xA, this ambition should not be difficult to realize.
“By using Smart Client, we can easily access process-specific data on the computers in our offices”
Anders Andersson, project manager at Absolut, enjoys access to all process data and history on his office computer

Tony Knutsson (The Absolut Company), Anna Åstrand and Jörgen Wingren (ABB), Anders Andersson and Pär Björklund (The Absolut Company).

User-friendly 800xA system with operator in focus

“Users first worked on a simulator, which gave them the chance them to pass on valuable feedback to ABB,” says Automation engineer Tony Knutsson. After further work on-site and verification at ABB, the new system was installed and the distillery in full operation again within just five days,” notes Tony proudly. 

It was soon clear to all that System 800xA was very operator friendly. The whole transfer to System 800xA at the Nöbbelöv distillery was thus very smooth. Not unlike the famous product made there.

Users first worked on a simulator, with a chance to pass on valuable feedback to ABB
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