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Case Study

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Comac Group Deploys PlantPAx to Create High-Speed Kegging Plant

Decreased commissioning, maintenance and deployment costs through seamless integration and speed of data transmission with PlantPAx solution


  • Aiming for higher precision and quality standards, Comac Group chose to create a beer kegging plant featuring a control system completely based on the EtherNet/IP? communication protocol



  • Easy and fast implementation and reduced error margin during cabling phase
  • Reduced plant setup timing
  • Increased plant efficiency
  • Visibility throughout the whole process and data availability across the enterprise


Founded in 1990 by two pairs of brothers who still lead the executive management, COMAC Group is a global leader in the design and manufacture of keg and bottling machines for bottles, cans, kegs and beverage containers.

In its 8,000m2 production facility, located in Bonate Sotto just near Bergamo, Italy, systems are designed, manufactured and tested before being supplied to customers all over the world, from Australia to the U.S.

Over the years, the deep understanding of market needs has driven the company’s continuous product innovation and has led to the development of high-speed automatic keg lines and electronic filling machines for bottles.

Aiming for higher precision and quality standards, the company chose to create a beer kegging plant featuring a control system completely based on the EtherNet/IP? communication protocol. The success of this project paves the way for all other plant standardisation. Due to its standard approach, this new technology not only allows integration between the control and automation architecture with the on-board instrumentation, but also the integration of the plant into the corporate network to the highest level of decision making.

Such an innovative project required the collaboration of COMAC Group with Rockwell Automation, the control and automation systems supplier, and Endress+Hauser for its process instrumentation.


The main objectives were to speed up the communication network, make it more secure and flexible and at the same time, gain real-time visibility over the whole process. EtherNet/IP meets this objective, being a much more powerful protocol in terms of flexibility and ease of implementation, and allows control of various disciplines, such as motion, control, process and safety just using a single network.

This technology allows COMAC Group to streamline its fieldbus infrastructure. It can gain the maximum benefit from the integration of the control architecture, built on Rockwell Automation components, which are already EtherNet/IP enabled, with the Endress+Hauser measuring devices. This makes information available directly from the field through a single communications infrastructure.


The project involves the whole brewer kegging plant system including washing, filling and handling sections. Regarding automation, the project is based on the PlantPAx? process control solution from Rockwell Automation, which includes HMIs running FactoryTalk? View SE, Allen-Bradley? ControlLogix? PACs, Allen-Bradley Point I/O, industrial switches Stratix 8000? and Stratix 2000?.

The collaboration between Rockwell Automation and Endress+Hauser, and their business and product development strategies was a good fit in relation to the COMAC Group’s targets. Endress+Hauser, an Encompass and Alliance partner of Rockwell Automation, proposed the use of Promag 53, an electromagnetic flowmeter that features EtherNet/IP capabilities that fully integrate with the Rockwell Automation control solution.

Thanks to this seamless integration and the EtherNet/IP protocol, all the information, including alarms or how many litres of beer fit in a keg, pass through a single source.

And, thanks to Promag 53’s integrated web server, the operator and remote service support can easily access diagnostic data via a Web browser.

Having a single communications infrastructure offers a lot of benefits, first of all the speed of the EtherNet/IP network, but also the ease of wiring and the prompt response to any problem.

The Rockwell Automation PlantPAx solution also provides a single programming environment – RSLogix? 5000 – which negates the need for the configuration keypad on the electromagnetic flowmeter. In fact, the Promag 53 settings can be programmed through RSLogix 5000.


The technical decision taken by COMAC Group led to a number of immediate benefits, especially for its clients. These included: better plant performance and lower deployment and maintenance costs.

The ControlLogix PAC is already equipped with an EtherNet/IP communication card, while a DeviceNetTM protocol would have required a further scanner and dedicated cables to communicate with the flowmeter, and would have led to an increase in costs, a more complex architecture and an increased risk of errors during the configuration and cabling.

The use of RSLogix 5000, a single programming environment, also saves time and reduces the error margin in parameter configuration. It also increases the machine versatility, in fact using RSLogix 5000, ControlLogix and EtherNet/IP, the recipe can be modified by only changing one electromagnetic flowmeter parameter. In this way it is possible to manage up to four keg types, switching, for example, from those of 50 litres capacity to those of 30 litres, without stopping the production line. In case of incorrect data transfer, an alarm will warn the operator who can fix the parameters using a PC.

The availability of real-time information from a single machine or from the full line, improves plant efficiency. In addition this data represents an analysis and control tool to help guarantee the amount of beer actually delivered to the final distributor.

“Due to results obtained, increased speed of data transmission and ease of deployment, the EtherNet/IP formula will be repeated, especially on large systems over 1,000 kegs/hour. Our choice was successful, especially compared to other protocols we have used so far, together with hardware provided by Rockwell Automation: we did not have any problems with installation, and the number of elements that can be installed on the network is not restricted. We were the first to modernise plant data collection, making systems more technologically advanced and higher performing and it is now one of our standards.” explains Daniele Gotti, Software & Automation, Comac Group.


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