Automation offers a competitive advantage in the dairy industry

This guest post is authored by Neal Vaoifi, industry business leader for the dairy division at MAVERICK Technologies

The dairy processing industry has completely transformed since I began my career 20 years ago. We used to only care about two things: unloading raw product, and shipping final product out the door. But now, of course, things are much different. Everything that happens throughout the process has controlling industrial process

For example, we used to dump our leftover whey and lactose in a field or use it as animal feed. Now, facilities are being constructed just to process these so-called byproducts. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) and milk protein concentrate (MPC) are more valuable than cheese and bottled milk. WPC − a high-quality, complete protein with all of the essential amino acids − dissolves instantly, making it an excellent product for protein drinks and baking. Similarly, MPC contains 40 to 90 percent milk protein and has a variety of uses.

Without WPC and MPC, the United States would have slipped behind in the world dairy race. They’ve become hot exports worldwide. Due in large part to the popularity of these powdered products, Japan’s dairy intake increased 29 percent last year. Likewise, dairy intake doubled last year in China, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. All of Central America now needs our dairy products. And we can meet the growing global demand by increasing production of WPC, MPC and other innovative dairy products. But in order to do so, we need more tightly controlled automation systems.

Automation is clearly the key to competitive advantage, and yet the U.S. dairy industry has been slow to embrace it. Now is the time to upgrade those old PLCs. Replace those drum timers and 10-position selector switches. Invest in technologies that will squeeze out 1 or 2 percent more final product. Today’s processors and management systems will save you big money in the long run.

Neal Vaoifi

About the Author
Neal Vaoifi became part of the MAVERICK team in 2009 when the company joined forces with Mission Controls, which he co-founded in 1997 before serving as its director and CEO. At MAVERICK, his key responsibilities include high-end engineering and design, regulatory compliance knowledge and dairy consulting. Neal began working with automation controls at the Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach, Calif. Aside from a short teaching position, Neal has worked in engineering since 1984. He has particular expertise in process plant job estimation and in the management of new plant and process-plant upgrade projects. He is a member of the International Dairy Deli and Bakery Association (IDDBA), the California Creamery Operators Association (CCOA) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

Tuning Control Loops Course: What is a “Bump Test”?

This article was submitted by Don Lovell, an automation consultant assisting customers in defining their automation road map to meet their business objectives.
Don Lovell

Don Lovell

A customer had a poor performing loop in the brewery. The problem would really become an issue once in awhile depending on the operating conditions in the plant. The problem would be passed from person to person, shift to shift with no real answer.

In discussing the problem with a controls engineer, the engineer asked if an “open loop” bump test had been performed. The answer was no. Question: What is a bump test? A bump test was performed and initial tuning parameters were calculated and installed. The loop began to settle down.

An “open loop” bump test is performed by placing the loop in manual, making a step change in the manual output and observing or trending the result of the process variable. With the resultant process curve displayed, the process gain, dead time and process time constant can be determined. With these three pieces of information the technician can determine the initial tuning parameters by selecting among hundreds of tuning strategies. Strategies encompass the type of process, process characteristics and tuning objectives. Common or classical strategies include: Ziegler-Nichols, Cohen-Coon and Lambda.

The initial problem solving method is discussed in ISA, Troubleshooting: A Technicians Guide, 2nd Edition.

From page 65:

Consultation, also known as the “third head” technique, means that you and the equipment operator use a third person, perhaps someone from engineering or an outside consultant, with advanced knowledge about the system or the principles for troubleshooting the problem. This person may not solve the problem but may ask questions that make the cause apparent or spark fresh ideas for you. This process allows you to stand back during the discussions, which sometimes can help you distinguish the trees from forest.”


Food Safety and the Role of an Enterprise Batch Record

Food Safety and the Role of an Enterprise Batch Record

This guest post is authored by Dave Loesche, Director of DCSNext, MAVERICK Technologies.

Today, I want to look at two primary issues facing food and beverage processors: food safety and compliance with government regulations. The two go hand in hand. With the results of the recent election, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will move forward and the provisions of the law will impose new requirements that food processors will need to comply with.Oilve Oil Factory

The key to complying with these new regulations will be the need to validate the production processes, which includes:

  1. Tracking product ingredients and creating a genealogy
  2. Tracking and confirming that proper sanitation steps have been taken and verifying their effectiveness
  3. Monitoring and capturing process and machine data to confirm compliance with product specifications

This validation will allow for quick access to data in the event of a product recall and will enable manufacturers to comply with government regulations enforced by the FSMA.

Product recalls result in food processors losing millions of dollars in real costs associated with pulling products from store shelves and ensuring recalled products are properly eliminated. The costs associated with customer goodwill and lost sales are also difficult to calculate, and can be even more substantial than the actual costs. Having access to production data is key to minimizing the financial impact from product recalls in addition to avoiding potential product safety issues.

Facilitating access to this type of data can be addressed by establishing an Enterprise Batch Record, which can store tons of information about the product manufacturing process, including:

•      Batch Header, Status, and Results
•      Supplier Information
•      Materials Produced and Consumed
•      Distribution Information
•      Processes Performed and Process Data
•      Equipment Used and Equipment Data
•      Labor Used and Labor Data
•      HACCP Results
•      Safety Results
•      Quality Results
•      Deviations and Incidents
•      Maintenance Activities
•      Sanitation & CIP Activities

Many food processors have existing point solutions such as SPC, HACCP and WMS to support their operation and therefore, do not need a large platform solution. An Enterprise Batch Record can integrate and consolidate the key production information needed to address food safety and comply with government regulations.

If you are a food and beverage processor, do yourself a favor and research different ways to approach manufacturing execution systems and consider using Enterprise Batch Records. Rob Gellings, a colleague of mine at MAVERICK, recently wrote a white paper on the case for Enterprise Batch Records to implement MES. Here are three takeaways:

  1. Manufacturers need a cost-efficient MES solution that is not disruptive to their installed base of technology, is scalable and allows them to incrementally implement the functionality they identify as necessary.
  2. By moving away from the application-first approach and instead creating an Enterprise Batch Record to capture information relevant to your operations, we can support any functions that are of value through individual applications that leverage the information.
  3. A solution approach to MES development offers value in flexibly, cost effectiveness, focus on the manufacturing process—not the software.

Click here to read the full report.

How will you approach the FSMA regulation, including ingredients, sanitation and capturing data for compliance?

About the Author
Dave Loesche serves as a MAVERICK Industry Business Leader with a focus on MAVERICK’s Food & Beverage/Consumer Products business segments. In this role, Dave is responsible for aligning MAVERICK’s service offerings and resources to address the unique automation and business challenges experienced by companies that operate in the food & beverage / consumer products industries. Dave joined MAVERICK in 2000 after directing the systems integration group for a major manufacturer of industrial product ID systems. He previously served in business development and project management roles. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and his MBA at Webster University. He holds a certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).


Batch Control System Project for a Pharmaceutical Plant

This is from a series of articles reprinted from the journal ISA Transactions. All ISA Transactions articles are free to ISA members, or can be purchased from Elsevier Press.

Systems hierarchy

Abstract: This paper describes a case study of a control system design for a batch pharmaceutical process. The ISA standard ISA-88 batch control models and terminology were used as the main guidelines for the implementation. As the ISA-88 is not a guide for how to apply the definitions/structures, etc., one of the main goals of our work was to create a methodology for decomposition of functional requirements in terms of ISA-88 models and structures. This methodology was tested on a real problem, described in the case study. Also presented are some remarks on project methodology and Food and Drug Administration validation.

Free Bonus: To read the full article on batch control for a pharmaceutical plant, click here.

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