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Food Manufacturing: Batch Control for Multiple Kitchens

With only 11 weeks before the first production trials, a systems integrator concurrently creates hardware designs and programming based on the ISA 88 Batch standard to support three cooks and more than 1,000 piping routes.

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In an effort to reduce operating costs and increase capacity, a global food manufacturer approached ECS Solutions (, an Indiana-based control system integrator, about consolidating several kitchens into a single, highly flexible “super kitchen,” The client needed to install new equipment into the floor space used by the existing kitchens while maintaining production. The new controls needed to interface with systems that were not replaced.

The controls contract was awarded 11 weeks prior to the first production trials on the initial kettles. To meet this ambitious schedule, ECS followed the ISA 88 Batch Standard promulgated by the International Society of Automation ( ISA 88 allows the flexibility required for operators to run the equipment as required, plus streamlines development and allows for anticipated changes in the process during commissioning. Rockwell Automation’s ( FactoryTalk Batch software was chosen for batch management portion of the controls.

The hardware designs and programming had to occur concurrently to meet the required deadlines. Teams of individuals were assigned to each task with dual project-sharing responsibilities of software and hardware. Coordination with vendors was critical to ensure the correct materials would be on site to install at the appropriate time.

Three cooks, each with a dedicated human-machine interface (HMI), work independently in one central location. Each operator selects recipes to run concurrently. Support personnel in designated areas load materials into the system upon request.
Controls were installed and programmed so the operator didn’t have to understand the piping to control the system. Over 1,000 routes, or equipment modules, containing an assortment of different valves, pumps and instrumentation were configured.

The operator need only select the raw material, quantity and destination to deliver product to a certain kettle manually. Alternatively, the operator can select a particular recipe to automatically control the delivery of the appropriate raw materials to the correct designations, set cook temperatures and times, and send the finished product to the packaging equipment.

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Seven key areas in the overall process were identified for dedicated programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Large valve banks were installed to allow any of the kettles to deliver to any other kettles, providing the ultimate flexibility. In addition to the three primary HMIs, scaled down HMIs placed in different areas allow support personnel to interface with the system as they add the requested raw materials. Multiple Ethernet networks were installed to effectively manage traffic.

ECS incorporated tools to assist in the operation and maintenance of the system. For example, an operator can easily determine that a recipe is on hold because a necessary component is in use by another operator, needs cleaning or is being cleaned. Operator instructions, prompts and acknowledgments are generated from the recipe instructions and displayed on the HMI graphic for the appropriate kettle.

The new system, which integrates the clean in place (CIP) and process controls, was designed with multiple CIP skids. ECS configured the system to allow the operator, via a popup display, to manually select any of the CIP skids to run a CIP sequence (automatically monitoring time, temperature and conductivity) through any route of pipes without selecting any individual valves. Alternatively, the operator can select a CIP recipe to clean an entire area using the parameters entered into the recipe.

ECS developed and programmed engineering tools into the HMIs and PLCs to save development and commissioning time. A configurable equipment module engine allows the addition or modification of routes, and the addition of valves and pumps, without PLC or HMI programming.

Using the process and technology developed by ECS, the food manufacturer successfully reduced operating costs by approximately $1million. The advanced CIP functionality increased capacity by 10 percent.

Randy J. Otto,, is vice president of ECS Solutions, a Certified member of the Control System Integrators Association. 

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