Infrastructure monitoring — a must for F&B industry
By Daniel Sultana, Regional Director, Asia Pacific at Paessler
Tuesday, 22 December, 2020
Food and beverage manufacturers are investing a lot of time, resources and new design approaches to implement digital technologies across their plant operations. Their goal is to transform the efficiency, productivity and flexibility of their technical infrastructure to help them be more competitive and able to respond to fast-changing market needs.
Many of the food and beverage industry’s manufacturing challenges are due to increased food safety regulation, therefore product quality, food safety and traceability are all top priorities for these companies. With a rapidly growing population that is more affluent than ever before, rising customer expectations and a variety of taste preferences are shifting market needs regularly.
There is no doubt that digital technologies are needed to enable the food and beverage industry to meet the changing requirements of its customers. Its plants must deploy smart manufacturing solutions that can provide real-time visibility of their performance to ensure optimal efficiency and quality. The ability to identify potential equipment failures before they occur and to take decisive action that does not significantly impact operations is essential for the food and beverage industry. How is this best achieved?
IIoT is a no brainer
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies can build upon basic automation for those in food production, leveraging plant floor data from disparate sources to deliver real-time insights and guidance.
Many food and beverage manufacturers are already working with technology suppliers to implement IIoT monitoring solutions. New equipment often comes with IIoT sensors, but many are retrofitting old machines with new intelligence to collect a variety of system performance data providing them with smart, efficient ways to turn that data into actionable insights. Global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney estimates that IoT will lead to a $1.9 trillion productivity increase and $177 billion in reduced costs by the end of 2020.
A broad range of plant automation technologies now incorporate IIoT, with analytics taking on increasing importance. Constant monitoring and analysis of performance can help machine operators spot issues faster and earlier to prevent quality issues and that means they can adjust as needed to ensure more efficient operations.
The ability to predict problems before they occur results in less unplanned downtime, while real-time infrastructure monitoring provides decision support for the appropriate corrective actions. This helps to reduce maintenance time, increase equipment availability and also improve productivity. However, merely applying more IIoT sensors and gathering more data will not solve persistent manufacturing problems.
Digitisation and IT/OT convergence
Digitalisation and IT/OT convergence is a big issue in the food and beverage sector as it brings IT and production together to make the operation a lot more efficient. A converged infrastructure requires one monitoring solution to give the technical team a single dashboard for everything they need to know from both integrated worlds.
Case study — chocolate and confectionery manufacturer
Carambar & Co, a French food and beverage group formed in 2017, needed to stabilise, improve reliability and optimise the performance of its technical infrastructure. It has a portfolio of local and global chocolate and confectionery brands within its large portfolio including Carambar, Poulain, Terry’s, Krema, Suchard, Vichy, Malabar Kaba, Dulciora and Benco.
Carambar & Co wanted to be able to monitor the health of its most critical servers containing data and applications, but also the flows and bandwidth between headquarters, its 50 servers in the cloud and the 15 servers at its production sites. It is essential to have a proactive approach to understand where the weaknesses of the technology infrastructure were to be able to improve them. It also helps them to prevent malfunctions and informs the 10-person IT team immediately of an incident, so they can resolve it before users become aware of it.
The company now has a complete view of all IT activity in a single dashboard, which greatly simplifies having to search for faults, optimising its use of IT resources. They are alerted in real time before a server is overloaded and it uncovers faults that are otherwise difficult to detect, such as problems with badge readers at the factory entrance. They can now communicate the health of the IT infrastructure to every department in the company. The next step is to support its industry 4.0 implementation and to remotely monitor the IoT equipment that is being rolled out across its production plants in France.
Remote plant monitoring
Remote food and beverage plant monitoring provides crucial information in a more efficient manner to help plants stay up and running. These can link to troubleshooting tools to identify and resolve issues without someone having to be physically in the plant. However, remote monitoring means that plants need to deploy additional sensors on measurements not previously monitored.
This real-time pervasive infrastructure monitoring in the food and beverage sector is enabled by wireless IIoT sensors and networks that help to overcome the issues of high installation cost and disruptions, enabling new, insightful data to be gained quickly and cost-effectively.
IIoT technologies, such as intelligent devices, motion control, machine control, edge computing systems and analytics packages, provide the right foundation and tools to help solve unique production challenges or issues rapidly, effectively and with quicker return on investment.
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