Each year, there are approximately 48 million Americans who become sick from contaminated food; to tackle issues of food risks, global food and beverage regulations such as Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have implemented new preventive measures against foodborne-illness hazards.
Therefore, food producers must proactively identify and resolve problems that lead to product recalls and contamination.
So, when there are diverse consumer demands and competitions that have introduced greater complexity into food and beverage manufacturers’ production processes and supply chains, is there any way to commit operations with a heightened focus on food safety in the face of such wide-ranging challenges?
Food Safety Program
Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, adopting an enterprise-wide approach which embraces information-enabled technologies and automation can help manufacturers address food safety across operations and increase productivity. Here are five key steps involved:
- Get Connected: Transitioning to a Connected Enterprise to converge operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) systems into a single, unified network architecture allow manufacturers improved visibility into safety-and-quality related processes, and make viewing and sharing information easier across the enterprise.
- Secure Networks: Network security directly impacts food safety and quality, and a “security through obscurity” approach is no longer viable. Necessary measures like defense-in-depth (DiD) security approach must be taken to address internal and external security threats, and should serve as a natural extension of the manufacturing processes.
- Employ a risk-based preventative control program: By replacing slow and outdated information-gathering methods and getting deeper insight into manufacturing processes with the right technology, manufacturers can gain better understanding of manufacturing methods and apply a more proactive approach to food safety program. Besides, a preventative approach can help comply with regulations easily. For example, having a real-time monitoring of critical control points in HAACP plan, trending data and controlling statistical process are some of the proactive measures; using corrective action logs and recording management and verification to leverage obtained information to meet regulatory rapid response requirements such as FSMA.
- Implement Product Traceability: Since a stronger traceability requirement is needed globally, implementing a supply-chain, track-and-trace system will help manufacturers comply with emerging regulations while helping protect products against counterfeits and diversions. Also, it allows for more efficient product recalls and customer-targeted marketing programs.
- Improve Operational Efficiency: Beyond compliance, a food safety program can be used to improve product quality, asset utilization, yield and energy usage. Manufacturers can take advantage of the latest technologies that improve asset utilization to meet demanding production goals and support fast changeovers while also maintaining high product quality.
Manufacturing intelligence tools use metric applications and data-rich dashboards to help improve OEE while delivering more consistent batches, even as raw materials and processes vary.
With FactoryTalk® VantagePoint® and Historian, production information is gathered, stored, aggregated, correlated and presented to operations, therefore variances can be more easily identified and corrected in real-time for gaining visibility into critical control point performance.
And since safety and security are always the top of the list, FactoryTalk Security can be used to help protect the machines and critical settings, plus supervisor overrides will be required for certain functions in order to reduce losses caused by incorrect operator actions.
Scalable and Modern Batch Solutions
Scalable and Modern Batch solutions maximize the potential of processes that require optimized equipment and material utilization.
Nowadays food and beverage manufacturers need a modern batch system that is able to intelligently make decisions on when and how to best use that equipment.
For example, when raw materials are needed, a system that is able to choose a supply vessel base on First In First Out (FIFO), process characteristics, or simple prioritization based on the sites preference could ease a lot of works.
By having a more detailed understanding of the equipment requirements, a modern system can leverage dynamic expressions to add intelligence into the batch management system.
Cutting-edge Batch Software For the Right Recipes
Each food producer has diverse batch processing needs, and each need requires a flexible and reliable method.
As it is vital to confirm and maintain production safety and operational security, Rockwell Automation has recently released a new version of the FactoryTalk Batch software with modern approaches for Batch Application.
It is an all-rounded solution that can further improve and automate the batch system’s responsiveness, scalability and productivity while delivering an improved, reliable user experience with built-in mobility.
Batch sequencing is now enabled to be occurred at the controller or sever level as FactoryTalk Batch v13 is integrated with the SequenceManager™ solution.
This allows machine builders to develop and deliver fully tested skids that end users can integrate into their batch process with minimal validation and commissioning effort.
Furthermore, if manufacturers with small, controller-based batch systems want to expand to larger, server-based ones, the rework required can be minimized by using this latest version.
The upgraded integrated system delivers plant-wide insights with the ability to drill down into each production area to monitor critical control points and improve efficiencies and product quality.
Giving plant personnel greater insights into their operations and supporting compliance with the new FSMA requirements, the system has helped food and beverage manufacturers to cut waste and ease compliance with the looming FSMA requirements.
The FactoryTalk Batch v13 includes integration with FactoryTalk Batch View for mobility. This allows any mobile devices, both iPhone and Android, access to FactoryTalk Batch software.
The HMI experience has been upgraded and can be leveraged on existing FactoryTalk Batch workstations, which helps create intuitive workflows, reduces procedural steps and increases collaboration.
Workers no longer need to be bound to their fixed stations; instead, with authorization, they can access real-time information, interact with processes and secure approvals from anywhere in a plant.
Moreover, as an enhanced administration tool, FactoryTalk Batch v13 makes data available for continuous improvement analysis while safely protecting the integrity of data, so that it can be leveraged in regulatory and quality control reporting.
The Control Tower of Batch Process
A process automation system with predictable batch processing can help reduce process variability while achieving consistent product quality.
Because of the varying demands of the market, Rockwell Automation delivers a scalable batch and a sequence management solution for its PlantPAx® Process Automation System – the PlantPAx Logix Batch & SequenceManager.
It provides a flexible, controller-based batch and sequencing solution independent of application servers and software, which can significantly reduce engineering time for system integrators and process equipment builders while providing key controller-based batch management capability for end-users.
With a standard user interface to build recipes, which simplifies and secures recipes configuration and organization, food producers then can take advantage of the detailed view when more information is required or to embed summary controls directly into existing process control graphics.
Improved Visibility to Enhance Compliance
Considering that Manufacturing Execution System (MES) suite of applications help food and beverage manufacturing move from a paper-based system to a unified automation infrastructure, which will make collecting, aggregating, and feeding data across the organization easily accomplished, it is time for food producers to make use of the modern solution to improve quality, safety, compliance, and speed to market.
As one of the essential components of The Connected Enterprise®, CPGSuite® solution can be combined with library-based content to tailor a personalized solution that the workforce can quickly and easily adapt to optimize value realization.
By using CPGSuite, worldwide customers have reflected that not only is brand risk reduced, their production costs have been reduced and first pass quality has been improved by approximately 18 percent and 12 percent respectively.
Best Tool, Safe Food, Smarter Manufacturing
To keep products safe and increase batch productivity, food and beverage manufacturers will need viable solutions to enhance performance, maintain competitiveness and drive business forward.
By using a modern and comprehensive approach, product safety and quality can be confirmed, compliance with food and beverage regulations can be eased, and brand quality can be maintained, all while satisfying the increasing scrutiny of customers and regulators.
It is time to review whether the people, process and equipment are supporting production performance and safety well in every aspect of the operations.
Investment in appropriate, hidden efficiencies and threats can be revealed; the right and advanced technologies will help to do more with less, moving the business forward and meeting demand.