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Keeping pace with the IIoT

03 February 2020

As the importance of collecting, storing and analysing data grows, Food Processing set out to explore the changing role for SCADA systems across the food and beverage manufacturing sector. 

According to Martyn Williams, managing director at COPA-DATA UK, the capabilities of modern supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) solutions go far beyond the traditional role that these systems have played in reducing costs and increasing production in the food and beverage industry. He said: “Scalable software platforms are now central to the continuing automation of facilities which is made possible by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).”

Changing expectations
Daniel Smalley, product manager SCADA at Siemens Digital Industries, believes that end-user requirements for SCADA systems are often still based on the core capabilities of supervisory control and data acquisition but that expectations about the way in which these core capabilities can be achieved are fundamentally changing. He said: “For supervisory control there is now an expectation that it can be achieved using easily scalable technologies such as local HMIs, central operator stations as well as mobile devices and augmented reality.”

The quantities of data coming from plant floor devices has significantly increased, and this requires the need for new data analytics functionality. “This involves the use of new IoT platforms such as cloud – with solutions such as Mindsphere – and edge platforms which can provide ease of use and service-based finance models,” continued Smalley.  

Key technology decisions are being driven by support for open international standards such as HTML5, SVG, OPC UA and Javascript to facilitate the integration of SCADA systems into wider business systems.

“Siemens web-based technology – Simatic WinCC unified system – for example can be used with HTML5, SVG and JavaScript making it highly scalable for end-to-end solutions across all types of applications and operational conditions,” continued Smalley. “The Juan Jose Albarracin SA factory in Spain, offers a good example. The company produces and distributes paprika. With the implementation of Siemens products, Juan José Albarracín was able to improve the performance of its existing machines and mills. Its new SCADA solution also permits transparent operation and seamless documentation and evaluation of all parameters. This means higher availability of the production lines, simpler maintenance – and the highest product quality.”

Data is key
Williams agrees that the growing importance of data in manufacturing cannot be ignored. He said: “Data is central to the management of quality, production and energy consumption in the food and beverage industry. The ever-growing expanse of information gathered from the IIoT simply cannot be managed manually. If manufacturers are going to reap the rewards of big data, they must invest in platforms that can provide an intelligent insight at machine level.”

Within the food industry SCADA solutions can be used to track products through the entire production process and distribution chain. This allows for greater visualisation across the entire logistics chain with actionable information available in real-time. This is a particular benefit for for food and beverage manufacturers, who are required to adhere to stringent quality management standards. Offering a good example Williams said: “For each batch of bread in a manufacturing facility, SCADA can automatically collect and collate real-time data in a central system. This allows operators to link specific ingredients to batches of product and track their distribution channels. 

“Going one step further, predictive analytics capabilities allow plant managers to anticipate the optimal response to measured conditions. This allows trends and patterns to be spotted, so that manufacturers can address any concerns before an issue occurs. In this way, food and beverage manufacturers can reduce the amount of unplanned downtime and cut the risk of traceability problems, for example.”

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