Many elements are required to ensure improvements in output, efficiency
Digitalization means many things to many people. In the industrial side of the food and beverage industry, it offers improved speed, flexibility, quality, energy efficiency and security by leveraging a tighter connection between the digital twin of manufacturing and its physical counterpart.
In a Webinar entitled Driving the Digital Enterprise for Food and Beverage Manufacturing, Hunter Beck of Siemens noted that improving the commissioning time for machinery and better understanding operations becomes more important as time to market and customization become ever more common. Flexibility follows the same vein, letting manufacturers quickly respond to changing customer demands and provide products tailored to those needs.
As quality expectations continue to increase, even the slightest imperfections become more noticeable. Energy efficiency is needed to meet expectations of a corporation’s environmental sustainability. Companies need to pay closer attention to their energy costs and the processes they use to manufacture their goods. Security has become a major issue and connectivity became common in industrial environments.
“Security should be addressed across the entirety of any new business model,” Beck said. “As companies look to digitalize the enterprise, they also have new threats to consider.”
When companies begin their journey to digitalize, they need to look across their entire enterprise to help ensure success. Only when aspects ranging from product design to machine concepts are addressed along with manufacturing and testing can the benefits of digitalization be fully realized.
Considering these factors means including the range of workers involved with each step. Input from design and production engineers, machine operators and service technicians is critical to help companies adopt digitalization programs that yield good results.
Digital twins are foundational to becoming a digital enterprise. They let developers design virtual products, addressing everything from formulas and recipes to package design and labeling. This technology also lets development teams look at factors like fluid dynamics. For example, ice cream developers can see how the number and size of blades can impact the ice cream’s consistency before ever running a batch.
With digital twins, simulation and testing can also be done virtually. When all these elements can be addressed in the virtual world, developers can spot issues before actions are taken in the real world, shortening time to market and reducing the possibility that errors can creep in.
These twins can provide a range of information, depending on the application. Some may require a high level of granularity. For example, managers who are performing a virtual commissioning can go down to the electronic functions running on a PLC, while another manager may only be concerned with overall plant optimization.
Formulations and packaging are foremost among the key factors of a holistic approach. The ingredients included in the formulation are essential, but to have a holistic digital twin of the product one needs to account for all aspects of the product including: formulation, packaging, and labeling.
“Most labeling is done by artists, but many companies also want to connect information from the formula and package design, and libraries with regulatory information may also be needed for some labels,” Beck said. “You also want to see how the package will perform when it’s packed into a box with 200 of the same product.”
The digital twin of production can help companies understand production equipment and its operations before anything is built up. Operators can be trained before equipment is installed, and companies can be sure that parameters like tank sizes and spacing between machines will facilitate efficient operations and provide scalability.
When the status shifts from the lab to actual production, digitalization continues to provide a number of benefits. Information from a range of digital twins can move to the production line, and when synchronized with data from ERP, will also help ensure that equipment is running at maximum efficiency. MES systems help coordinate orders with production capabilities based on recipes being produced, helping managers respond faster to new orders.
Though digitalization programs are often implemented when new equipment is installed, many benefits can also be gained by leveraging the existing infrastructure. New sensors aren’t necessary if a fair amount of data can be collected from existing machines and related equipment like energy management systems.
The information collected by manufacturing equipment can further improve productivity levels by reducing unplanned downtime. The volume of information available on line can be used to create predictive maintenance schedules. That lets technicians make repairs before equipment failures occur, reducing the issues that arise when machines fail unexpectedly.
Data from the factory floor can also help companies understand what causes problems with end products. Feedback from customers can quickly be diagnosed so operators and managers can quickly determine the root cause of problems. Once they learn whether issues are caused by equipment raw materials or other factors, they can determine the scope of the problem. For example, only products that are actually defective can be recalled. At the same time, analyzing this information can help operators ensure that quality levels are restored quickly.
For more in-depth information on this topic, view the recorded webinar, titled Driving the Digital Enterprise for Food and Beverage Manufacturing.Have an Inquiry for Siemens about this article? Click Here >>