Batch processing systems can vary widely in terms of ease of programming and
configuration, real-time recipe and ingredients management, and connectivity capabilities
for reporting. Here are some suggestions for what capabilities you should look for when
selecting batch software:
1. Keep software specific. The software should be designed for the particularities
of your process where possible. It should be able to integrate demand with raw materials,
provide information about costs, and communicate with the equipment and operations. Keep
the variables and data points that the batch processing software manages on the relatively
large side and make sure it easily integrates with other systems.
2. Connectivity essential. The effectiveness of batch processing software can be
significantly enhanced if it has on-line connectivity with, and access to, the work-in-process
inventory system that contains the actual, sampled characteristics and attributes (i.e.,
potency, percent moisture, percent fat and percent lean for food processing operations) of
the raw or partially processed raw materials that are available for use in making upcoming
batches. Also, multi-batch formulation software will do a better job of lowering the cost of
raw material usage than single-batch formulation systems.
3. Many factors to consider in automating tasks. Many automated solutions
can add a pinch of salt automatically, replacing an operator who did this task inconsistently.
But the operator does more than adding salt. He observes whether the salt was actually
dispensed, the dispenser has plenty of salt loaded, the dispenser is not blocked by a
foreign object, the dispenser is not working hard because it is caked with salt, the salt is not
contaminated with pepper, and other details. The simple process of adding a pinch of salt
may require software and hardware that is capable of monitoring the process, maintenance,
quality, safety and many other human skills.
4. Batch factors. Batch processing involves many factors, including the speed of many
pieces of machinery, the precision of equipment and scales, the anti-plugging design of
hoppers and holding bins, as well as the reports printout on each batch. Anything out of
tolerance needs to be reviewed before you can proceed to the next step.
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