Advanced Instrumentation Technologies Provide Versatility in Food and Beverage Applications

  Anyone who has ever worked in the food processing industry quickly learns the importance of proper equipment sanitation. Everything has to be cleanable positively, quickly and without a lot of fuss. Nooks and crannies able to provide a breeding ground for dust and bugs have to be designed out of individual pieces and assemblies, including process instruments.

Those critical design elements to support cleanability have to come first when selecting instrumentation for these applications, which limits the choices available to engineers. Joshua Friesz examines this conundrum in an August 2019 Food Engineering posting titled Advanced Instrumentation Technologies Provide Versatility in Food and Beverage Applications. He points out that advanced instrumentation capabilities used in conventional industries aren’t always available in hygienic instruments, but the situation is changing for the better.

While food and beverage plants typically don’t have all the complex processes or automation technology of heavier process industries, there are still many ways where even simple advances can provide numerous benefits. Case in point: One brewery located near Emerson’s offices in Minnesota uses a differential pressure transmitter primarily to measure level in its brew tanks, but it also determined that data from this transmitter could tell them much more than just the volume of water.

He explains how the brewery was able to characterize different parts of the process by switching from a manual gauge and a clipboard to a more sophisticated DP transmitter coupled to a data recorder. This was possible because the transmitter necessary to do the job was available with an appropriate configuration. The growth in this part of the industry has brought a wide range of improvements.

The technological developments of electronics in the last 20 years have provided opportunities for instrumentation suppliers to add many new condition and process diagnostics to instruments. Condition diagnostics relate to signal gathering and processing functions, and can identify problems such as an internal component failure or power and grounding issues. The whole electrical loop can be monitored by the transmitter to detect and warn of any issues capable of affecting the 4-20 mA signal. Process diagnostics detect things happening outside of the instrument such as changes in process noise or clogging impulse lines. These capabilities have been available, to varying degrees, in conventional instruments for many years and they are moving into hygienic designs as well.

 Emerson has been working on applying technologies developed in heavier process industries to the more specialized need of food and beverage producers. The goal is to optimize product designs to deliver the right mix of technical capabilities in a hygienic form factor using communication protocols common to the industry. For example:

The compact Rosemount 326P pressure transmitter is designed specifically for food and beverage applications. While it doesn’t feature the same performance specifications as the Rosemount 3051HT, it still handles pressure and temperature limits common to these applications and can also withstand regular CIP/SIP cycles. A modular arrangement enables it to be outfitted with any of up to nine different process connection styles. It communicates via a 4-20 mA current loop, augmented with IO-Link for configuration and diagnostics, and includes a local display and programming via buttons.

This is just one of the specialized instruments for food and beverage applications. The family also includes the Rosemount 326T Temperature Transmitter, the Rosemount 326L Level Transmitter Guided Wave Radar and others. They’re all designed to provide sophisticated capabilities in a hygienic but flexible package.

You can find more information like this and meet with other people looking at the same kinds of situations in the Emerson Exchange365 community. It’s a place where you can communicate and exchange information with experts and peers in all sorts of industries around the world. Look for the Food & Beverage and Life Sciences Groups and other specialty areas for suggestions and answers.