Process automation for agile manufacturing in food and beverage

Will Kreznick

Food and beverages is an industry serving a very large number of consumers with changing tastes and habits. This has an impact on the way manufacturers build, operate and optimise their plant. In some cases, they may need to build bigger plants to produce higher volumes. They may also need […]

Food and beverages is an industry serving a very large number of consumers with changing tastes and habits.

This has an impact on the way manufacturers build, operate and optimise their plant. In some cases, they may need to build bigger plants to produce higher volumes. They may also need to increase velocity in order to meet retail expectations for short time delivery but also to reduce the inventories impacting the balance sheet.

And they also need to manage a changing number of SKU, variable upon the market demand. Most of the plant managers also face important information visibility issues: they need to know all about ingredients, process, finalised product and supply.

It is key to break information silos and enable a rapid, centralised and consistent access, from one site to the other.

Increasing real-time visibility to drive performance in Food and Beverage operations is critical to improve flexibility, yield and finally profitability. Digital solutions such as automation platforms, specifically designed by combining smart devices, smart machines and process with software, allow to transform manufacturing operation into a paperless and real-time information management.

An automation platform must encompass:

• From field devices to ERP integration

• From connected devices to cloud and analytics technologies

• From simple machine to multisite management capabilities

• From design to operation and maintenance dedicated applications

• Including third-parties component integration. One of the main capabilities for an agile manufacturing is Process Automation.

How to meet food and beverage process control need for transparency from plant floor to top floor?

A real case to better understand the value of applying a Process Control digital solution can be found at Wilmar Sugar, Australia’s leading producer of raw sugar, with an output of 2.5 million tons of sugar a year from its 8mills.

They were looking to modernise its largest sugar mill, the InvictaMill, which had been operating at its current site for 98 years. The idea was to replace the InvictaMill’s existing boiler control system equipment that was reaching its end of life.

It was also really important for them to simplify system and embed safety procedures.

Wilmar chose Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Plant architecture with the Modicon M580 Safety PLCs and AVEVA’s Plant SCADA software for their new control systems as a solution.

The solution simplified control systems into one interface and improved safety, efficiency and productivity with a solution architecture that is easy to use. Wilmar Sugar’s Internal results were highly satisfactory with Zero lost crush and 20% faster start-up, setting a new benchmark for safety and reliability to be rolled out to additional plants.

Food and beverage next generation industries are more than digital, more than IIoT. It’s a holistic transformation for customers to achieve the next generation of efficiency, resiliency and sustainability that is focussed on real people.

This requires bold movements on every step of the value chain and solutions to facilitate product and process lifecycles integrated management.

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