Consumers have come to expect only the highest quality when it comes to the food and beverages they purchase. Automation has driven the variability of the products way down over the years. But even with these improvements, the average food & beverage producer takes almost a full day to respond to shipments with quality issues.
The key to improving quality is to measure quality parameters on-line to address issues before off-spec products are created. Avoiding the quality excursions during production also heads off costly recalls after the fact.
I caught up with Emerson’s Christian Grossenbacher about ways food & beverage manufacturers can better address these quality issues. He described three areas to help ensure on-spec products and guard against costly losses.
End-of-Batch Quality Prediction
DeltaV Batch Analytics perform a multi-variate analysis based on models generated from a compilation of historical batches. Faults in the batch process are detected in real time providing time to take corrective action before a production quality excursion occurs. These analytics helps to increase understanding of the process, minimize batch-to-batch variation, and improve yield.
The second way is on the product packaging line where real-time measurements can help detect leaks and potential sources of contamination. The Rosemount CT4215 Packaging Leak Detection system uses patented Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology to accurately test 100% of food and beverage product packages going through the production lines to ensure seal integrity. Packaging seals can also be improved by using Branson Ultrasonic Sealing technology for cleaner and contaminant-free seals.
Christian described a UK spirits producer who sought to improve the integrity of their casks during the aging process and container seals during the bottling process through the use of leak detection technology. While the spirits were aging in oak casks, the leak detection solution can check the integrity of a cask by fractionally raising the internal pressure and then detecting the leakage of alcohol or a trace gas such as carbon dioxide. This solution incorporates laser detection technology which also has been used to detect leakages in aerosol canisters and the integrity of food packaging.
On the packaging side, this leak detection solution can measure CO2 leaks for up to 200 packs per minute. This automated 100% product inspection method yielded a return on investment of less than one year.
Transport & Storage Temperature Monitoring
Quality issues can also emerge during transit through the supply chain from manufacturer to seller. The third way to help ensure proper transport and storage conditions is by using real-time wireless temperature measurement during transportation and storage. Wireless Temperature Monitoring helps ensure quality with real-time temperature, security and location tracking for cold-chain foods and beverages.
Visit the Food & Beverage section on Emerson.com for other examples of how these technologies can improve quality 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.