Our sense of taste is changing. We’re becoming more health-conscious of the foods and beverages we consume to living a better life. No more perplexing and hard-to-pronounce food labels. Rather, simplicity rules the day as consumers seek transparency in knowing the ingredients going into the products they eat and drink. Simple does not discount sophistication though. The demand is present for high-quality foods that are healthy, sustainable and of course, appease the tastebuds.
So then, what does this all mean? Food and beverage companies have to think differently about infrastructure and plant operations to satisfy evolving appetites, from processed foods to healthier options. Manufacturing processes need to be structured to support plant-based foods and successfully manage fresh and short shelf-life products that do not contain artificial preservations or ingredients. This involves a fundamental shift in how food is produced, from shifting operating models to investing in new technology, to bring healthier, fresher foods and beverages to market.
The food manufacturing industry is highly competitive. In the United States alone, there are 27,000 organizations, generating an annual revenue of nearly $790 billion. Being operationally efficient to produce and distribute a complete, desirable and quality product while staying mindful of consumer tastes and nutritional trends ensures business longevity and its place among competitors.
This is no easy feat. There are many challenges and obstacles unique to the industry, including government guidance and regulations, food and beverage safety standards, extremely elaborate food processing machinery and sanitation equipment, and supply chain and logistical difficulties. In return, organizations may be reluctant to make changes and bring aboard new technologies, as this may be assumed as digital disruption, causing roadblocks in the form of production downtime and maintenance costs.
Adapting new technologies and processes will be a necessity for food and beverage. The integration of innovative applications, advanced equipment, and better automation translates to an improved product (in regards to food taste and safety), an increase in productivity and efficiency, and reducing unscheduled machine downtime.
How can these initiatives be achieved while producing a superior product? The food and beverage manufacturing sector have the tendency to be late adopters of digital trends. However, the affordability of technologies coupled with improved software tools creates a compelling case for implementing the Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. And the course of action to establish sound machines is with condition monitoring.
Simply put, condition monitoring is the process of observing the parameter of conditions in machinery and equipment (temperature, pressure, humidity, vibration, etc.) in order to identify performance anomalies during operation. Over time, these indicators of equipment and system health will become easier to predict, allowing for the appropriate measures to resolving issues before escalating into serious complications and resulting in machine downtime.
Condition monitoring is achieved through sensors and software that is constantly capturing a variety of data points that can be utilized to monitor the health of an asset. For example, Parker’s SensoNODE™ Gold sensors and Voice of the Machine™ Cloud Software provide continuous condition monitoring of equipment. Together, they work in coherence to monitor temperature, humidity, pressure, current, and vibration. These are critical parameters to measure in the food and beverage plants in establishing food safety.
SensoNODE Gold sensors can be attached anywhere on a machine, even in the most difficult-to-reach locations, transmitting real-time measurements to the Voice of the Machine Cloud web-based platform that allows viewing data 24/7 from anywhere with an internet connection. Workers can monitor asset conditions and changes among the different processes to identify abnormalities and resolve those issues through simple, wireless monitoring. This prevents unnecessary production downtime and costs associated with maintenance and repairs.
Voice of the Machine web-based solution presents data through easy-to-understand dashboards and provides notifications when measurement thresholds are exceeded. A user-friendly interface makes connecting sensors uncomplicated and measurements easy-to-read. Exporting of data is done with a click of one button, which sends a CSV file right to your email. The wealth of data collected can be leveraged to tweak existing processes, establish new systems, cut maintenance costs, increase product output, and ultimately increase the bottom line.
SensoNODE Gold Sensors and Voice of the Machine Software create a touch-free experience, as up-to-date machine measurements are available to be viewed via an internet connection. Whether on the plant floor or out of the office, workers can monitor and analyze data from multiple assets and get alerts of deviations, which ensures continuous productivity, increased efficiency and eliminates downtime that improves the overall bottom line.
Contact Parker today to see how its SensoNODE sensors and Voice of the Machine software can improve condition monitoring for your food and beverage operations.
Article contributed by Marc Williams, IoT project lead for SensoNODE Sensors and Voice of the Machine Software, Parker Hannifin.