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Use the Right Instrumentation to Improve Batch Manufacturing

  There’s an old management saying: You can’t control what you can’t measure. This certainly applies in food and beverage manufacturing.

Manufacturers in every industry want control and consistency in their processes. Ideally, for food & beverage companies, this applies to ingredients and processing. Unfortunately, inconsistencies of ingredients are common, so processing must be adjusted to accommodate these differences, and effective instrumentation becomes a very critical tool in this effort. Working in this environment is the main point of our article at Food Engineering Online Mar 2020 article, Use the Right Instrumentation to Improve Batch Manufacturing

Consistency relates to both the product itself and the manufacturing process. Whether beer or a headache remedy, customers want a given product to be the same every time they purchase it. Manufacturers want every batch to turn out the same way as well. When the same ingredients are mixed in the same proportions and processed the same way, the effort should yield the same product. Yet, complications often emerge due to lack of consistency of ingredients combined with the difficulty of maintaining effective process control.

There’s the key: you can’t always control the ingredients, so you must be able to control the process to compensate for the ingredient inconsistencies. Intentionality is the driver, with no guesswork.

Achieving consistency in a manufacturing environment, particularly a hygienic environment, requires effective instrumentation since something that cannot be measured cannot be controlled. Using the previous example, if the recipe calls for heating a batch of product to 85 degrees Celsius, plus or minus 2 degrees, and holding for some period, operators must have accurate and reliable instrumentation to know when that temperature has been reached and how to maintain it in the tolerance band. Too high of a temperature wastes energy and could overheat the mixture. An excessively low temperature may result in an incomplete reaction or inadequate microbial control.

Pressure and temperature instrumentation applications show up again and again in these environments for many reasons. Pressure transmitters deserve special consideration since they receive treatment which can cause accuracy problems over time.

Within the hygienic industries, instability becomes a particular problem. Instrumentation manufacturers publish a stability specification, but it does not always consider the hard treatment common to this environment. Pressure transmitters subjected to the rapid and drastic temperature changes common to CIP and SIP procedures can lose their stability and allow significant reading displacement. Some users simply accept drift over time as a fact of life that must be controlled with frequent calibrations. This does not have to be the case, however, because available instruments can maintain stability with less than 0.2% drift per year even in these difficult applications, batch after batch, cleaning cycle after cleaning cycle.

This kind of problem can be avoided by using transmitters designed for just this kind of application. Emerson’s Rosemount 3051HT Hygienic Pressure Transmitter can withstand the hard treatment, delivering batch repeatability up to ±0.02% upper range limit for 60 batches with five-year stability.

The article also discusses critical capabilities of temperature transmitters, such as the Rosemount 327T Temperature Transmitter, which features drift monitoring diagnostics and sensor backup technology to provide layers of safety to ensure your food and beverage operations are in specification.

 So, ask yourself, how much control do you have in your processes:

  • Are there areas where you aren’t sure what is happening?
  • Is instrumentation dependable so you can count on it to help?
  • Do transmitters have a long and stable lifespan, or to they demand frequent re-calibration or replacement?

Let us know where your production pain points are, and you may find others with the same struggles. You can find more information like this and meet with other people looking at the same kinds of situations in the Emerson Exchange 365 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 Groups and other specialty areas for suggestions and answers.