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Data transparency gets bakery production ready for the future

20 May 2014

Stefan Knauf, corporate account manager food & beverage, CPG, at Mitsubishi Electric’s Factory Automation – European Business Group, looks at options for improving efficiency and productivity in production by small and medium-sized companies and offers a view of future automation concepts – with a focus on enhanced data transparency.

Opportunities for increasing efficiency while also reducing energy consumption are a frequently discussed topic – in the food industry, in particular, where productivity and profit margins tend to be low compared with other manufacturing industries. 
Pressure is growing on prices in the bakery market, driven primarily by direct competition with discount retailers. Meaningful key performance indicators, like the collection and correct evaluation of process- and production-relevant data, and efficient production are the determining factors for long-term corporate success. A fundamental basis for continuous improvement is data transparency. Embracing automation is a key factor to enable a sustainable future business. Its intelligent use can make a significant contribution to competitiveness. 
As a longstanding partner for bakery technology, Mitsubishi Electric offers a comprehensive portfolio of automation components for bakeries. The range extends from the automation of inverter-controlled dough mixer applications to increasing the effectiveness of the overall system up to production-enhancing robot technology.

For example, using the MES-IT interface module, continuous communication can be realised simply even in a heterogeneous, historically grown application structure – a ‘brownfield’ production plant – by interconnecting island solutions. The module acquires production data and test results at each stage of production and transmits them in real-time to higher-level systems. These enable the systems to produce clear, meaningful evaluations by using Excel, SAP or pre-prepared reports. The link to existing systems can be established quickly without interrupting machine sequences.

Preventive maintenance
Preventive maintenance is also a big issue in the food industry. If a machine fails without prior warning, entire batches may need to be disposed of. Flexible maintenance and service concepts, such as FAG SmartCheck or the life-cycle software tool MAPS can offer a solution. 

FAG SmartCheck detects and reports the first vibrations in a drive long before any noise is emitted. As a result, the reaction time up to machine failure is considerably greater and the maintenance cycle can be adapted to production at a suitably early stage.

To increase plant flexibility and availability, it can make sense to use robots. If several products are manufactured, packaged or removed on one line, the timing can be configured to be significantly faster and more cost-efficient by using space-saving robots and camera systems. At the same time the high hygiene standards of the food industry are met.

The fully integrated automation concept iQ Platform ultimately combines all components up to robot control on one single platform and ensures seamless communication within the plant. 

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