Food and Beverage Manufacturing Production Optimization

Emerson's Marcus Parsons


Unlike many other industries in process manufacturing, the food & beverage industry must react much more quickly to changing consumer demands. These rapid changes challenge these manufacturers in their production practices, reliability requirements, product quality needs and sustainability goals.

I caught up with Emerson’s Marcus Parsons to discuss the challenges around changing production requirements and how food & beverage manufacturers are addressing them.

Marcus explained that maximizing production is a key objective in most cases. It’s important to shorten changeover times and improve the production line efficiencies. Technology has a large role to play in increasing flexibility and providing insights back to operations personnel to increase throughput to meet their market demands.

Maximizing production in the food & beverage industryFour areas of focus are better measurements & interpretations of production real-time data, package line efficiency, cleaning cycle times between production runs, and predictive analytics to inform better decision making.

Historically, production lines have installed the minimum number of sensors to control the line. Additional non-control related measurements can help to improve flexibility and insights needed to maximize production.

Important measurement technologies for food & beverage manufacturers include Coriolis flow meters, compact density & viscosity meters, magnetic flow meters, non-intrusive temperature sensors, pH and other liquid analysis sensors, pressure transmitters, and radar level transmitters.

On the packaging lines, ultrasonic cutting & sealing technology and smart pneumatics can help reduce the set-up times, material usage, and operational safety of the equipment.

For reducing cleaning operation cycle times between production runs, technologies such as conductivity sensors, non-intrusive temperature sensors, Coriolis flow meters, and level transmitters can help improve overall production throughput.

With the advancements in simulation technologies and their integration with control systems, greater levels of predictive analytics can be achieved. Running a Digital Twin—a simulation of the manufacturing process running in parallel with the control system managing the process—provides opportunities to identify and test production improvements before deployment.

The simulation can also help train operations staff to increase competence to handle startup, shutdown and abnormal operating states.

Added together, inefficiencies are eliminated in order to maximize production. Marcus shared a few examples of how food & beverage providers increased production.

A beer manufacturer was losing CO2 from fermenter overpressure and ruptured disks. By adding measurements to correlate changes in CO2 and specific gravity and accurately measure the level with differential pressure (DP) level transmitters, they were able to eliminate the overpressure conditions and directly determine the end of the fermentation process. These additions led to time savings of around 10% per batch and meant an extra 400,000 barrels of production per year.

Another example is a food machinery producer who looked to increase the line speed for an aseptic filling machine where the fill time needed to be less than 2.5 seconds for a 5-liter bag. This required a flow rate that could change from zero to 7,000 liters/hour nearly instantaneously. Rosemount magnetic flow meters provided high accuracy filling measurements and handle flow disturbances created by the pumps, filling valve actuators, and rapidly changing flow conditions. The end user of this packaging line gained 2.5% in operational efficiency and achieved 100% reliability for filling operations across multiple types of juices.

Visit the Food & Beverage section on Emerson.com for other examples of how these technologies and application experts can maximize production at your facility. You can also connect and interact with other food & beverage experts in the Food & Beverage group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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