Pack EXPO International and similar trade shows bring together hundreds of thousands of attendees and upwards of 2500 exhibitors that manufacture equipment lines designed to service dozens of vertical markets. Most manufacturing plants operate a mix of old and new equipment from multiple manufacturers and the food industry is no exception.
However, as in any industry, efficiency, adaptability and seamless communication between equipment and processing stations helps plants streamline productivity. To this end, Spiroflow Automation recently undertook the task of supervisory control on a frozen meal production line based in the U.S.
The challenge? A mix of legacy equipment with newer additions—with the goal of fostering effective communication and supply control over the entire line.
Approximately half of the pre-existing equipment was retained while introducing new modules to optimize the manufacturing process. The transformative step was integrating the PackML communication standard across all equipment PLC (programmable logic controllers) processors. PackML, developed by the Organization of Machine Automation & Control (OMAC) is a benchmark in machine automation standards, promising consistency across equipment modules.
The outcomes of Spiroflow’s endeavor led to significant tangible benefits. First, the new system architecture streamlined communication, cutting the number of discrete networks in half, from four to two. This reduction was more than just a simplification; it translated into a substantial $70,000-plus savings in networking hardware costs for the client.
Additionally, Spiroflow’s collaboration with equipment suppliers ensured that the PackML layer was seamlessly integrated into their PLC programs. This holistic approach culminated in an almost vertical control system commissioning.
What did this mean for the client, on the ground?
Rapid Changeovers with SMED: Before the PackML integration the changeover time stood at an average of 1.5 hours. Post-integration, this was slashed to 0.5 hours or even less.
Instant Equipment Diagnosis: The central status board allowed for instantaneous equipment problem diagnostics, to minimize downtime.
Real-time Insights with OEE Dashboards: With the Real-Time Operating Equipment Efficiency dashboard, monitoring and optimizing equipment performance became straightforward.
Prepared for the Future – MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) Ready: Spiroflow ensured that both data and code were primed for synchronization between various management systems, encompassing Recipe Management, Inventory Management, Equipment Utilization and a Process Data Historian.
The results Spiroflow Automation achieved for this frozen meal manufacturing line exemplify our company’s commitment to innovative solutions that deliver real-world benefits. Leveraging industry standards such as PackML enable Spiroflow to enhance operational efficiencies, while also driving cost savings and preparing manufacturing units for future growth and integration. This implementation of the PackML standard through Spiroflow Automation can offer benefits to other sectors within the food industry such as:
Beverage Production—Modern beverage processing plants often handle multiple products from carbonated drinks to fruit juices. Rapid changeovers facilitate this shift between beverage types while manufacturing protocols help prevent cross-contamination and preserve product purity. A system from Spiroflow Automation could expedite the changeover process, adjusting machinery swiftly to accommodate different beverage production requirements, saving time, sparing resources and facilitating efficient production of the desired range of product skus.
Bakery and Confections—The baking industry in particular combines science with artistry, requiring precise times, temperatures and mixing sequences for the myriad products issued by a single manufacturing facility. Using the PackML standard, bakeries can achieve more consistent product uniformity, by streamlining equipment communication for processes such as dough mixing and baking. It can help facilitate quick changeovers between products, for example from bread to pastries through recipe and inventory management.
Meat and Poultry—Meat and poultry processing require stringent hygienic standards to prevent proliferation of harmful bacteria. In addition, varied production techniques and processes produce different cuts and types of meats. Implementing PackML enables meat processing plants to realize more rapid changeovers when switching between cuts, protein types, or the variety of value-added meat skus designed to help consumers with more rapid and flavorful meal preparation. Additionally, real-time monitoring can help more quickly identify and address equipment issues for excellent product quality and safety.
Companies seeking to elevate their manufacturing processes can reach out to the team at Spiroflow Automation to discuss upcoming projects. Find out how easy it is to implement industry standards that increase plant efficiencies.