Simulation Software: The Benefits for Food Plants

How simulations streamline construction and save money

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Simulation Software: The Benefits for Food Plants

Digital transformation is taking over the food industry. From automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to real-time mobile reporting, companies are looking to invest in digital tools that improve efficiencies and reduce overhead. 

But with the wide variety of options available today, it can be difficult to decide which technological investment will keep your manufacturing facility ahead of the pack. 

Simulation software is one of the newest technological breakthroughs – one that can save up to millions of dollars for food companies when they are building or expanding their facilities. 

 

Machine Learning and AI in Food Plants: Where to Start

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Machine Learning and AI in Food Plants: Where to Start

So you want to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into your food processing facility — but where do you start? These tools have grown increasingly popular, and you’ve likely heard people discussing different platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. But how do you get access to these tools and what can they do?

Three layers of cloud computing

When it comes to introducing machine learning to your processing, think of it as a three-tiered ecosystem:

1. Service providers (AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure)

2. IoT solutions partners (system integrators, data experts, etc.)

3. End users (Facility operator, plant owner, etc.)

 

5 Ways Hoses and Flow Panels Can Be a Risk to Your Brewery or Distillery

How to organize your “snake pit” with consolidation and valve banks

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5 Ways Hoses and Flow Panels Can Be a Risk to Your Brewery or Distillery

Breweries and distilleries can be infamous for their “snake pits,” the areas of the facility where transfer hoses can become a tangled mess.

Flow panels and hoses are widely used to route product and cleaning solutions through brewery and distillery piping systems, and they are a cost-effective initial investment. However, as a facility grows, so do the number of connections — and that can quickly get out of control.

These snake pits can pose serious problems for your facility’s efficiency and the safety of your workers. Let’s examine five major risks associated with snake pits, and what you can do about them.

 

Get Started with Cloud-based Asset Management in Your Food Processing Plant

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Get Started with Cloud-based Asset Management in Your Food Processing Plant

You’ve likely heard a lot about Industry 4.0 and the impact of predictive and prescriptive maintenance on the food and beverage industry. It can sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, a few basic investments and the right partner can help streamline the way your facility operates and communicates

Food manufacturing facilities are complex and have various ecosystems operating at different levels, including:

  • Raw materials and receiving
  • Processing and KPIs
  • Monitoring (HMIs, PLCs and networks)
  • Inventory and work orders (ERP and PRM)
  • Packaging and distribution
  • Quality, process safety management (PSM) and safety

But all of these systems don’t always talk to each other. In many facilities, an equipment failure triggers a lengthy domino effect: Maintenance staff has to assess the problem, create a work order, check if a replacement part is available and so on.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

 

New Automation and Controls System? Educate and Involve Operators Early

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New Automation and Controls System? Educate and Involve Operators Early

As more food and beverage processing moves from mechanical to automated, it’s important to hire the right people who can operate and troubleshoot from the plant floor. Once you have qualified technical staff in place, transferring knowledge about your automation and controls systems to them is crucial.

At Stellar, we often help food manufacturers configure new facilities, so we understand the process and what it takes to make it go smoothly. When it comes to training your plant personnel on the automation and controls, follow these tips for an efficient startup at your next facility.

 

5 Things to Consider Before Investing in Robotics for Your Food Processing Plant

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5 Things to Consider Before Investing in Robotics for Your Food Processing Plant

A growing number of food and beverage processing facilities are investing in robotics and automation, as the technology continues to advance and costs continue to normalize. These tools can be a game-changer for many businesses, offering benefits such as reduced operating costs, upped throughput and increased food and worker safety.

That said, such a significant investment requires careful implementation. Before incorporating robotics into your facility, consider these important best practices to ensure you invest wisely and efficiently.

 

3 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Food or Beverage Facility for the Future

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3 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Food or Beverage Facility for the Future

There’s never been a better time to invest in capital expenditures for your business. Recent tax reform has freed up cash and created more incentives for corporate entities to spend on new equipment and infrastructure.

Plus, the combination of mergers and acquisitions, advances in technology, and evolving consumer demand is spurring innovation. The speed-to-market food and beverage industry is only moving faster.

So it’s a great time to invest in your company’s growth, but what exactly is the best move? Considering the current industry climate, there are some forward-thinking options worth prioritizing.

 

Industrial Automation: Is It Time to Upgrade Your Control System?

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Industrial Automation: Is It Time to Upgrade Your Control System?

How old is the control system at your facility? In most processing plants, the control system consists of field instruments that are wired to I/O cards which feed to a central PLC controller. Operators communicate with the PLC through a human machine interface (HMI) computer.

While the lifespan of an HMI computer is about the same as a typical desktop computer, the instruments, field wiring, I/O boards and PLC controllers last a lot longer — and the mentality of most operators is: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Upgrading a control system is a costly investment, and, as a result, many facilities have field hardware that is decades old.

So, when is it worth upgrading your control system? And what options do you have?

 

Preventing a Recall: How to Manage 3 Threats Facing Food and Beverage Plants

Minimize the top food safety risks in your food and beverage facility

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Preventing a Recall: How to Manage 3 Threats Facing Food and Beverage Plants

Ask any food manufacturer or processor if they are committed to high safety and quality standards and their answer will, of course, be yes. But even with the strictest standards, thousands of recalls are still issued each year in the U.S. In 2015, the FDA recalled 9,178 products, a 12-percent increase over the previous two years. If you weighed the amount of goods the USDA recalled last year alone, it would be as heavy as 52 Boeing 747 airliners. That’s a lot of product gone to waste.

 

What Coffee Producers Can Learn From Starbucks’ Award-winning Coffee Plant

Lessons from Food Engineering's 2015 Fabulous Food Plant winner

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What coffee producers can learn from Starbucks’ award-winning coffee plant

As today’s home-brewing coffee drinkers continue to seek convenient alternatives to coffee shops, the demand for delicious instant coffee has risen. However, it’s not always easy for processors to produce high-quality instant coffee, as there are many moving parts that must come together to put a tasty cup of joe on the kitchen table.