19 October, 2018

The benefits of process control in the food & beverage industry

21 March, 2017

Mark Lilley, field segment manager – hygienic processing food & beverage at Bürkert Fluid Control Systems UK & Ireland, looks at the benefits of a bespoke control system, the features it should include and how to achieve the most effective solution.


Modern food processing systems are under increasing pressure to improve efficiency and minimise the total cost of ownership, without compromising quality. As legacy equipment ages and processes change it can be more difficult to achieve the ideal control scenario. Very often, new investment is required but this has to be justified by the improvements to the process and the long-term cost benefits.

Improved control and monitoring reduces wastage of expensive compounds, provides improved production reliability and also delivers the continuous data required to meet regulatory standards. By making significant reductions in energy and raw materials costs, a carefully designed production control system can deliver high quality products using the most efficient process.

Improving the levels of automation within a process of any scale can deliver improvements to maintenance costs, production costs, reliability and, most importantly, quality. With increased automation comes the ability to collect more process data which is required for effective process management and traceability as well as meeting local hygiene standards.

Meeting the criteria

While many process control systems will have several features and components in common, the actual arrangement and interaction between them should be specific to an application for optimum performance. Creating a bespoke design can therefore be essential to meeting the criteria for modern production facilities and meeting local standards.

Modern process control systems use a much higher degree of automation that relies on process data being interpreted and applied by programmable logic controllers (PLCs). More recent advances have seen the use of networked information and remote visualisation, especially on larger scale enterprises.

In terms of actual control devices and sensors, the emphasis has been on reducing energy consumption and increasing versatility that will enable cost-effective operation of the manufacturing process. Reducing the air consumption of pneumatically operated valves for example, minimising heating times for sterilisation processes and optimising product interchangeability all have long-term benefits for the end user.

Creating the most effective design for a particular application requires considerable expertise and experience in design, manufacturing and installation. To avoid unnecessary complications and delays, the most effective solution is to develop the project with a supplier that can deliver the complete package.

The definition of a bespoke control system means that the designers have to start from the ground up, working closely with the client to establish what will be delivered by the new system and how best to achieve it. Often existing technology and components will have to be integrated with unique parts and custom designs in order to achieve the best solution.




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