Michael Griffith
Michael Griffith
Director, Business Analytics

Michael leverages more than 15 years of experience to provide insight into business performance and value creation. His areas of expertise include cost analysis and forecasting, lifecycle cost analysis, industrial automation and business intelligence. Michael has overseen projects for Nestlé, Starbucks, Sysco Foods, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Pepsico, Coca-Cola and many others.

What Can IIoT Sensors Measure and Monitor in a Food Processing Facility?

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What Can IIoT Sensors Measure and Monitor in a Food Processing Facility?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is revolutionizing how food manufacturing facilities operate, from processing to building maintenance and everything in between. Food and beverage companies have access to more data than ever before, and that’s helping them make more informed decisions.

Internet-connected sensors are the “eyes and ears” in a food plant, collecting all the data that makes those insights possible. These devices can measure a variety of inputs from electrical currents to vibrations to air temperature.

Stellar installs sensors in many of the modern facilities we design and construct today, but many owners have the same question: What exactly can I measure?

Let’s look at a few ways sensors can be used in your food plant:


The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and What It Means for Your Food Plant

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The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and What It Means for Your Food Plant

By now, you’ve likely heard about the various ways our homes are getting “smarter.” We now have devices such as the Amazon Echo, Wi-Fi-connected toaster ovens and doorbells with live-streaming video. Nowadays, you can lock your front door from your smartphone, tell Siri to turn on the lights inside your house and control your thermostat from anywhere you have an internet connection.

These networks of physical devices embedded with electronics, sensors and software that allow them to connect and communicate are often referred to as the Internet of Things. This new era of technology isn’t just limited to your home, though — food and beverage plants are taking advantage of smart devices as well.  


5 Tips for Automating Your Food Processing Plant

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5 Tips for Automating your Food Processing Plant

Total automation may be an ideal for most food processors, but it can be difficult to determine how to connect every system in a food plant—or if they should even be connected at all. To optimize ROI, it’s important to learn which areas of your food processing facility are best suited for automation. Below are five tips for improving your plant’s automation capabilities.


Do You Really Need to Upgrade Your PLC-5 Automation System?

Tips for migrating your processor effectively, efficiently and affordably

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Do you really need to upgrade your PLC-5 automation system?

Source: Rockwell Automation

Upgrading PLC-5 automation systems has been on the food and beverage industry’s radar for quite some time now. In fact, when I began working at Stellar 12 years ago, people were buzzing about Rockwell Automation moving the processor into retirement (“Silver Series” status). However, the PLC-5 1771 was such a widely popular system, Rockwell held back on pulling the trigger until recently. In August 2012, Rockwell revealed it would no longer support the PLC-5 processor anymore, including engineering replacement parts—big news, considering more than 80 percent of the marketplace owned these systems.


How Production Loads in Your Food Processing Plant Affect Refrigeration Efficiency and Stability

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How production loads in your food processing plant affect refrigeration efficiency and stability

When cooling loads change gradually, your refrigeration equipment and controls undergo gradual changes and your system remains stable and efficient. However, if rapid load fluctuations occur as a result of production or sanitation activities, many systems experience pressure or temperature fluctuations, which can cause sanitation and quality issues as well as increased energy usage. There are several strategies food manufacturers can employ to deal with these challenges.


A Conversation With Powerit Solutions® About Energy Management Technology

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Bahamas Food ServicesI recently sat down with Jack Perkins, Director of Channel Development for Powerit Solutions®, to discuss ways the food and beverage industry can benefit from energy management technology. Stellar often partners with energy experts such as Powerit Solutions to provide clients with a full range of tools to increase energy efficiency.


Food Processing Plants Cut the Cord With Wireless Automation

2014 trends and predictions

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Many food processors are turning to wireless automation to improve the efficiency and interoperability of the plant’s control systems. This method of automation architecture offers significant cost savings in engineering and installation, while providing more flexible access to data for monitoring and analysis.


Getting the Most Out of Your HMI

Refrigeration Control Series

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A sample HMI overview screen of a refrigerated glycol system uses a graphical representation to illustrate process flow. HMI Overview provided by Jim Martini.

Your team relies on HMI screens to monitor real-time performance of your refrigeration control systems. But if your dashboards are not presenting that information in a clear, usable format, you’re not getting a clear picture. Your HMI should present performance metrics in a format that’s customized for your system to allow your team to effectively diagnose, analyze and manage your systems.

Your HMI screens should include an overview of the entire plant in addition to a single view of the machine room. Each piece of equipment can be animated and color-coded to show operational status, capacity, pressures, communication errors and other functions. Alarms and other critical issues are easily recognizable with pop-ups and red animation.


What Can Refrigeration Remote Monitoring Do for You?

Refrigeration Control Series

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Rockwell Automation’s PowerMonitor 5000 takes energy monitoring to the next level and provides the capability to monitor four voltage and four current channels for every electrical cycle. Used with Permission of Rockwell Automation, Inc.

The ability to remotely monitor your refrigeration system can have a significant impact on your bottom line, reducing energy, maintenance and overall operating costs. If you’ve recently upgraded your refrigeration controls system or are in the process of upgrading, it’s important to ensure your new system offers remote access. This will allow for speedy diagnostics, offsite troubleshooting capabilities, and constant monitoring, all with a “big picture” view of the entire system.

There are three key benefits of remote monitoring:

1. Diagnostics

Remote access allows your team or an outsourced consultant to monitor the system 24/7 for alerts such as refrigerant leak detection, high liquid levels, high product temperatures, high system pressure, and more. Outsourced consultants who offer a higher level of specialized expertise than your in-house team can view your entire system in real time and offer advanced insight and support.


April Series: Refrigeration Controls

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This April, we’re taking a look at refrigeration controls systems. While they represent a significant capital investment, automation components, software and systems are critical to the success of any food processing or cold storage facility. But no technology—no matter how innovative—can last forever.

In our series of articles, we will explore signs that it’s time to replace your refrigeration controls system, the benefits of newer systems, remote monitoring, and HMIs.

Stellar provides state-of-the-art automation services to help clients achieve maximum efficiency for their refrigeration systems. We are the only approved Rockwell Automation Solution Partner for refrigeration controls.

We look forward to your thoughts and questions on the information in this series. If you have other questions, feel free to contact Kevin Frantz at 904-260-2900 or kfrantz@stellar.net.