Industrial automation of retorts: constant supervision and control
Although there is still a way to go, digital transformation is already a priority in the food industry. It is a reality that companies cannot ignore if they wish to remain competitive. The industrial automation of processes, together with digitalized control and monitoring, enables production to be increased, greater energy efficiency to be reached and waste to be minimized. Digital transformation is the direction that companies in the food industry have taken to optimize their resources, as it offers many benefits.
Real time control of processes for better decision-making
Within the food industry, there is a great deal of diversity on a technological level and this means that different processes are still performed manually, such as the control of the retort temperature and times. However, automation and connectivity have been extended with functions that represent increased safety and cost savings.
Retorts with automatic processing cycle control enable preparation processes to be managed, deviations to be controlled and operations and alarms to be logged, through the implementation of SCADA systems integrated into the company’s ERPs.
Another essential function that connectivity offers is the monitoring of energy consumption, which makes it easier to detect inefficiencies and apply improvement actions. On the other hand, automation in the handling of loads is an important advance in terms of ergonomics and the reduction of occupational risks.
Sensorization and data logging that guarantee food safety
Cycle monitoring systems and constant data logging offer increased safety in terms of food product quality, as it is far easier to detect a defective batch. If an incident or deviation occurs that affects the integrity of the food product, the batch is quickly located, preventing it from reaching the distribution chain.
Furthermore, in high production environments where lines are operating at high speed and a large volume of products are produces, digitalization has become an essential factor. Otherwise, it is not possible to guarantee the control of food safety, which is the most critical element in our industry.
On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind that the process control and automation systems should be accessible only via digital user recognition. Thanks to this, you can ensure that critical tasks are only carried out by qualified and authorized staff.
Increased productivity and error elimination
Control of the production flow offers essential data to manage large product volumes. All of this information enables immediate preventive and corrective actions to be taken which are reflected in a significant reduction in waste due to rejection.
You must remember that a room that is not highly automated increases the risk of human error, which may be dangerous in some cases. Faults may occur, such as incorrect control of the process temperature and times, errors in the selection of sterilization preparation processes, and even that the loading goes directly to the packaging section without passing through the sterilization process. Automation of processes avoids this type of errors and also significantly reduces the risk of accidents, as the high temperatures of the pipes and the humidity of the floor make the retort room a risk area.
New ways of managing work at the plant
Digitalization involves major changes in the way of working within industrial sterilization processes. First of all, it is essential to train staff in the use of systems. With the digital transformation, processes require less labor per kilogram of product produced, but a higher level of process supervision technicians.
At the same time, maintenance is more demanding and not all companies can assume these tasks internally. In this respect, relying on a quality retort supplier that includes consultancy and preventive maintenance services is a key aspect to be taken into consideration.
Transformation that cannot be passed up
Companies in the food industry, beyond small and homemade productions, cannot miss out on this digital transformation, which is essential in order to remain competitive. In a global world, where low-cost producers come into play, Industry 4.0 has become an opportunity so that companies are able to maintain their competitive differentiation, based on high levels of quality and optimum efficiency in production processes.