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MES solutions for the food industry

06 June 2021

Food Processing spoke to Joe Gerstl, director product management GE Digital, about MES solutions. 

Q: What benefits can a MES solution offer to food processing businesses?
A MES solution can help unlock efficiency, reduce costs, improve quality, and speed production. By aligning resources across the organisation, it is possible to identify production gaps, lower costs of energy and waste, capture quality information, and improve on-time delivery of product. Some MES solutions now employ Industrial AI and machine learning to provide insights and intelligence through data integration and predictive analytics. In addition, MES can maximise Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), improve production scheduling, and leverage real-time data to improve quality. 

Q: What should specifiers be looking out for to ensure they get their right fit for their food operation? 
Many food and beverage manufacturers have mixed process and discrete operations, ranging from the processing to packaging. It is useful to have one MES that can span process/discrete/hybrid manufacturing operations to provide all of the needed capabilities in a single solution to reduce costs, maintenance, and training, improve the ability to capture and analyse data enterprise wide, and create a seamless digitised manufacturing environment. The ability to deliver a hybrid on-premise/cloud industrial data management solution is also a useful capability as some data should be on premise, some should be in the cloud. 

Modern visualisation to track uptime, downtime and overall plant and machine efficiencies through web-based KPIs is beneficial. And, having the ability to perform closed-loop optimisation involving MES data and analytics including AI – using analytics as part of the MES solution to analyse data, identify root causes, drive changes back to the MES, will help to continually optimise performance.

Other important considerations include the ability to drive work process management within the MES – as workforces change, MES can guide the new generation of operators through the right steps using digital tools, cybersecurity capabilities and the availability of a Secure Deployment Guide and capabilities to ease compliance such as related information stored, including operators’ comments, specifications, recipes, and procedure documents that support 21 CFR Part 11 and eSignature.

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