Factory Automation
Batch Processing
Process Automation
Packaging Automation
On the Edge

Batch Processing Desk

November 20, 2014 | By Renee R. Bassett
Abnormal situation management for continuous processing is normal operating procedure for batch processing. A new starter kit from Rockwell Automation can give batch control programmers a leg up on coding the complicated starts, stops and holding steps in food, beverage and pharma process operations.

Batch processing is arguably the most difficult manufacturing there is. Discrete assembly operations have thousands of parts to source, manage and track. Continuous processes have to tweak and tune based on raw material variables and operate in spite of hazardous conditions and the specter of “abnormal situations.” But batch processors have to manage multiple steps in a process that can start then be suspended while something else happens; vary by temperature, ingredient, humidity or chemical reaction; and is regularly changed when planned or unplanned setpoints are reached. And don’t forget that since the final product is often ingested by humans, it must not be allowed to sicken or kill anyone.

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November 20, 2014 | By Renee R Bassett
Low moisture foods include nuts, cereals, chocolate and more.
The Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence (AIOE), founded in 2011 by PMMI—The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, brings together CPG production and engineering professionals with suppliers to address issues of common concern. Their latest guidance document covers hygienic equipment for low moisture foods.

One potential area for pathogen growth in low moisture food production environments is the packaging equipment used in primary packaging. Both consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) and suppliers have a strong commitment to build equipment that can be cleaned and sanitized, then returned to production while minimizing downtime. There are multiple approaches to achieving this.The variety of design options for packaging equipment can lead to one-off designs for each CPG when, in fact, a more standard equipment design could work.

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November 14, 2014 | By Renee R. Bassett
Procomsol Industrial App for communicating with HART Instruments
HART communication technology combined with digital valve controllers, flowmeters and other analytical transmitters can make control-valve maintenance and configuration much easier. Now, HART device management has gotten even easier with a HART communicator app for Android smartphones.

Managing the feed water and boilers in an industrial plant is often easier with the use of multivariable HART communication in conjunction with digital valve controllers, flowmeters and other analytical transmitters. Without HART, valve removal or replacement is a pain, because verifying the open/closed condition of a control valve requires limit switches to be retrofitted to the valve body. But even with HART, device configuration and management can be a chore. PC-based HART communicators lighten the load by replacing the heavy, expensive and specialized communicators of old with a multifunction laptop loaded with special software.

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November 01, 2014 | By Renee R. Bassett
The Software business of Schneider Electric, which encompasses the company’s operations management, asset management and operations integration product lines, is combining technologies to enable better data-driven decisions. The company has also added Simio simulation-based scheduling to its MES offerings.

Schneider Electric made a bold move last year when it acquired Invensys. The goal: to become a world-class software company. Less than a year later, the company is revealing how the people and products from the two companies are coming together. In a talk with journalists and analysts at the 2014 Software Global Customer Conference in Orlando, Fla., Rob McGreevy, the company’s vice president of information, operations and asset management, discussed the new Software business of Schneider Electric, which encompasses its operations management, asset management and operations integration product lines.

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September 22, 2014 | By Renee R. Bassett
Bacon is basted and cooked in its own juices in a spiral oven, providing the appearance of a pan-fried product. Source: Unitherm
A spiral convection oven provides compelling advantages over linear microwave ovens, mass-producing products that look and taste like they were pan-fried at home. Food processors also like the footprint and energy savings.

The world’s growing appetite for bacon seems insatiable. In Chicago alone this summer, the city’s 6th annual Baconfest included 160 restaurants inventing culinary creations using 7,800 pounds of the pork product to feed 4,500 people hungry for “swine dining.”

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