Food for thought: How to improve through actionable data

Making data the lifeblood of your food and beverage manufacturing

By Glen Jacob, Food & Beverage Industry Manager – Australia and New Zealand, Rockwell Automation

The rapid expansion of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has created a dilemma for companies in the food and beverage sector.

The IIoT is recasting the role of data from a useful asset to the lifeblood that drives production decisions. Unfortunately, for most food and beverage manufacturers a combination of legacy equipment, skills gaps in an ageing workforce and the struggle to identify and measure the right data means they are not accomplishing anything close to the progress seen in other industries.

Achieve tangible ROI through digital transformation

This article will show you that none of these obstacles is insurmountable and that you can achieve genuine ROI by digitally transforming your food and beverage manufacturing operations.

Once you have finished, you will have an in-depth understanding of how to access and capitalise on your operational, business and transactional
data to improve product quality and create more efficient production and
packaging operations.

Implement knowledge-driven operations

You will also learn how knowledge-driven operations can connect your people, processes and technology across every level for better collaboration, faster problem solving and improved innovation within your organisation and its supply chain.

As the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, Rockwell Automation are specialists in digitally transforming manufacturing operations. We have helped organisations in more than 80 countries to translate the deluge of information into useful, actionable insights, and we have put this article together to help you understand how to achieve the same thing for your business.

You will learn how data can improve production performance with infrastructure changes that work straight away. We will also demonstrate how actionable data can be used to reduce manufacturing complexity, increase flexibility and bring new products to market faster, as well as improving the maintenance schedules of your capital equipment to be more predictive.

Removing the guesswork and variability

Valuable data is everywhere in food and beverage manufacturing, but at the moment it is not being captured or used effectively to improve operations. As a result, your employees are relying on their own personal experience and judgment when making decisions, instead of basing them on
accurate information.

Making plant-wide production data accessible to every level of your workforce would solve this problem, but your legacy equipment was not designed with today’s connectivity in mind, resulting in data being produced in silos.

We will explain how you can integrate data across multiple systems and convert it more easily into formats that employees can instantly access, understand and use to make better decisions.

Creating more Efficient Production and Packaging Operations

Consumer demand for single-serving size, custom products has resulted in a recent explosion of SKUs, with the production process becoming significantly more complex as a result. The need to increase speed to market from idea to launch has also pushed food and beverage manufacturers further towards automated solutions.

Gaining better control of quality and costs

As consumer behavior has moved towards purchasing locally sourced fresh foods, food and beverage manufacturers have had to adjust the raw products and recipes they use in production.

With an increased consumer focus on health benefits, and governments introducing additional regulations to improve food safety, there is even greater pressure to reformulate your products, meaning your need to manage commodity costs and improve yields has grown significantly.

This article will show how actionable data can reduce cost and waste in your supply chain, helping you to meet quality metrics and improve yields.

Getting the right data, to the right person, at the right time

One of the consequences of implementing knowledge-driven operations is that you can put relevant and contextualised information close to the user and on the device of their choice. For example, it could be at the operator’s workstation HMI or on a mobile device.

This information is now in the hands of the process engineers and operators where they need it and where they spend most of their day.

This is going to help them:

  • Improve cycle time;
  • Increase equipment uptime; and
  • Optimise maintenance schedules.

For example, workers can quickly access information on failures, defects or errors and where they occurred, in order to fix issues faster and prevent future problems.

Data and information is also captured at the workstation in a common way, regardless of operator or locations. Incidents or actions are documented in real time. For example, downtime issues are captured with corrective actions that now allow more historical information to be available, to avoid those incidents or recover from incidents quicker, which can help reduce downtime and MTTR.

This standardised user experience also helps to ease transition for operators between work orders, machines and workstations. You can have your training and certification tied into the manufacturing system to ensure certified personnel are working on those operations, which will help eliminate mistakes in the process due to
human error.

When operators sign into their workstation HMI:

  • They are validated;
  • They know what work order they are working on; and
  • The proper documentation is delivered right to them.

Mobile devices give workers immediate access to critical information, whether they’re walking the plant floor or working remotely, while HMIs and industrial PCs provide access to anything from real-time performance information to production trends and daily
throughput targets.

Controllers and other industrial devices can display on-device, which can reduce the number of HMIs required and deliver critical process information closer to its source. In addition, wearable devices, such as VR headsets are becoming increasingly commonplace as companies look for new and more convenient ways to monitor their operations or troubleshoot issues without stopping production.

Boosting production efficiency through better transparency

Knowledge-driven operations allow you to achieve a completely new level of transparency in the
production environment.

Enforceable workflows break down organisational information silos to unite people with systems, helping manufacturers to improve
productivity through:

  • Greater collaboration;
  • Increased standardisation; and
  • Stronger enforcement of
    best practice.

And, because quality processes become integral to production activities, plants can learn more by allowing process data to be viewed in context of orders, products, suppliers and materials.

Using simulation software can also help optimise daily production goals by leveraging the “digital twin” of your manufacturing facilities. Simulation takes into account the variability in process times of each production step, as well as downtime events like the cleaning or maintenance of the equipment.

By simulating this, you can adjust your daily operations to better ensure you’re meeting your goals and customer demand. For example, you might change production from smallest to largest batches to those that have fewer changeover times.

What this means to your facility

Knowledge-driven operations deliver a level of consistency, quality and efficiency to your production that is impossible to achieve through any other strategic initiative. They offer a smooth, agile and scalable system to optimise decision-making even as your workforce changes. And because they can access data in any format, they are agnostic to any control areas and can fit across your entire supply chain.

  • Successfully implementing things like the IIoT can impact your facility in a number of other ways, helping you
    to ensure:
  • Faster time-to-market through on-time delivery and more successful new product introductions;
  • Lower total cost of ownership, thanks to better visibility into WIP and inventory turns, improved OEE performance and optimised
    energy consumption;
  • Improved asset utilisation and optimisation, helping to identify and resolve bottlenecks, improve yields and reduce manufacturing cycle time, and
  • Better enterprise risk management, with fewer regulatory incidents and reduced customer rejects.

ROI is easier than you think

Projects can be easy and cost-effective to implement. Modern automation equipment is designed to generate production data and projects can be implemented with minimal disruption to operations. It also means you can start with a small pilot project and scale up, which typically leads to a rapid
positive ROI.

Most companies find that ROI from initial upgrades quickly fund more initiatives and eventually deliver a seamless convergence of operations and information, increasing efficiency and productivity across the enterprise.

With many other manufacturers already enjoying IIoT success, it is important to start investing now. Those with capable IIoT infrastructures enjoyed the largest productivity and profit increases.

Assess your own operations

The first step in developing your own knowledge-driven operations is defining which business goal it will help you meet or which production challenge it will help solve. Defining goals or outcomes upfront will help drive decisions about what data must be collected, what information must be delivered to workers at different levels, and what technology solutions will be needed.

After all, the key function areas have their own primary concerns; for example, IT cares about standardisation and network security, while operations is focused on labour productivity and OEE. These concerns, such as moving to regional production or maintaining quality standards, should be aligned to the needs of your business.

– With contributions from Trent Reimers, Technology Consultant SA/NT, Rockwell Automation

Glen Jacob

Food & Beverage Industry Manager – Australia and New Zealand, Rockwell Automation

Glen has over 25 years’ experience helping manufacturers apply automation and OT technology solutions to make their manufacturing operations more productive. Motivated by the goal of sustainable growth for the Food & Beverage industry in the Australia and New Zealand region Glen works with F&B manufacturers to solve productivity challenges and drive value from investments in IT/OT technologies and solutions.

This free on-demand webinar is launched on 21 September 2020.
Register online here

This article was originally published in the September issue of The Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker. To find out more about our monthly magazine, or to subscribe, click here!

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