13 January 2020

Control Of The Environment And Other Variables Can Contribute To Increased Food Productivity And Agility

Will a drought in West Africa affect the global cocoa supply? Yes of course. Any drastic climatic change affects crop across the globe every year.

We don’t have much control over nature, but that’s another topic for discussion, but variability in raw ingredients, and how these variables interact with the atmospheric conditions throughout the production process has a significant impact on production performance. So, if we could predict how this variability will impact performance then we can adapt recipes, processes and machines in real time. This will give us greater process control, increasing productivity and agility

With IoT data software solutions production conditions can be predicted and mitigated before it can cause wastage and losses in the food and beverage industry. But we as an industry have only scratched the surface of data analytics and digitalisation, and there’s a lot more that can be done.

Real time data capture allows us to understand production at a factory from every perspective. If we look at environmental change where conditions like humidity level keep fluctuating on an hourly basis this can be monitored and controlled using Siemens’ SIMATIC controllers.

Furthermore, measuring and tracking variability and devices that control the temperature is exacted and implemented through IoT and cloud technologies like Siemens’ open IoT operating system, MindSphere.

When these processes are in place it gives factory operation teams the knowledge to work with predictive and adaptive process controls which prompt wastage reduction, increases productivity and agility.

This increase in agility gives the marketing teams freedom to design special edition products, regionalise and customise it bringing greater production stability.

Customisation in the food industry is accelerating as the Instagram trend grows and consumers strive for something different. With KitKat’s announcement of their direct-to-consumer (D2C) offer, capitalising on the Christmas season. Nestle is offering consumers handcrafted ‘create their own break’ chocolates which can be built using 14 ingredients.

So, as the demand increases, production can only be able to produce at scale with stable, and agile production processes. Controlling the viscosity of chocolate determines the desired final smooth creamy texture and quality of product, but the product must flow efficiently through the production process.

Similarly, production of bread is impacted if the weather gets too cold and inside temperatures are not controlled to allow the fermenting of the dough to produce the same consistent quality of bread each morning.

Factories collect data to make small changes and adjust predictable variables that enhance production and quality.

Controlling variables in the production of ready meals is highly beneficial too especially where there is mass production and repeatability of action.

For instance, a factory producing pasta may have more than one recipe which are customised. Their need is smaller, shorter runs and to switch quickly, but the changeover time is greater than the run time. To do shorter runs successfully, they need consistency and repeatability, and for this they need predictability of conditions.

Nestle’s 8 finger KitKat individualisation of product shows what can be achieved using data capture, analysis and digitalisation.

Whilst personalising chocolate is fun and great for gifting, there are endless possibilities with capturing real time data and producing food in a far more productive and agile way. This leads to made-to-order possibilities or bespoke to everyone’s needs.

Data captured and processed in controlling variables using analytics can revolutionise the Food & Beverage industry to produce specially designed foods.

Read more at: https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2019/09/13/Siemens-probes-production-variables-to-explore-solutions

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