Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems: Advantages and Considerations for ASRS Warehouses

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Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems: Advantages and Considerations for ASRS Warehouses

E-commerce retail is at an all-time high, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest quarterly report. Total e-commerce sales for 2020 were estimated at $791.7 billion, an increase of 32.4% (±1.8%) from 2019.

While this isn’t exactly unexpected, the COVID-19 pandemic has only sped up e-commerce trends that were already taking place. And that means distribution warehouses — and the workers and technology that power them — are in the spotlight.

This has more companies considering how to best capitalize on this demand, and automated robotics are taking the storage and distribution game to new heights — literally.

 

Don’t Put Off Upgrading Your PLCs: 3 Red Flags and a Cautionary Tale

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“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

It’s a question we’ve all heard before, but when it comes to older programmable logic controller (PLC) installations, it’s not an answer you want to find out the hard way. While some components can be found and purchased online, if your primary source for replacement parts is a site like eBay or obsoletePLCparts.com, it’s likely time to upgrade your system.

 

IIoT Tech Could Free Up Your Facility for Essential Workers

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IIoT Tech Could Free Up Your Facility for Essential Workers

As the coronavirus pandemic rocked the world early this year and its scope was realized in the United States, food plant operators had to adapt quickly to meet new federal and local orders that mandated social distancing. At the same time, producers saw restaurant demand plummet while retail and online grocery store market shares skyrocketed. As unpaid orders originally bound for restaurants rotted in storage, retailers had trouble keeping milk and eggs on the shelf.

This dramatic shake-up has forced food plant operators to reorganize equipment, production lines and workers to maintain safe social distancing, especially in the wake of multiple COVID-19 outbreaks among food plant employees.

Additionally, the wild fluctuations the supply chain experienced exposed vulnerabilities created by the communication lag between suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology has the potential to solve some of these COVID-19-related problems and revolutionize the future of the food processing industry. 

 

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.