~ The future of automation in applications in the food industry ~
In the food industry, achieving optimal productivity for production lines saves both time and money. For a smooth production flow, the introduction of modular transport systems to deliver batches of one can be the best way forward. For plant managers who want to innovate, Alan Smith, Beckhoff Great BritainThe transport system expert’s outlines the growing trend of small batch production and how XPlanar can be applied to food production applications to achieve efficient batch-sized production.
The production of batches from one or a small batch is a method used by food producers who want to preserve the quality and authenticity of their recipes. Once a food product is mass-produced, the quality of the end result gradually decreases over time. When a food is produced on a certain scale, the chemistry and proportions of the ingredients in the recipe no longer work well together and adjustments must be made to ensure that the taste of the product is the same. Instead of sacrificing food quality, small batch production means that food producers must choose to produce their products in small batches in order to maintain a high standard of quality.
According to a study by Hannover Messe60% of the participants agreed that the size of lot 1 is an important factor for their economic success. However, in the food industry applications, the efficient use of batch-sized production has previously been seen as a challenge for plant managers. Often the same production line can produce two different products – which means that production equipment may need to be cleaned and reconfigured between batches, leading to inefficiencies in the production process.
Today, industrial processes in the food industry are no longer linear. Beckhoff’s first planar modular transport system XPlanar counteracts this problem; the XPlanar system consists of an engine, plates and control software. The engine is wireless and levitates to move dynamically with six degrees of freedom, and its magnets allow it to lift heavy loads and travel across the production track. What’s more, the XPlanar system now allows 360-degree rotation for moving people, allowing liquids to be mixed by centrifugal force.
The XPlanar system is designed to provide plant managers with a dynamic solution to challenges such as strict quality assurance, output speed and more. Once in motion, the mover moves on an individually defined route, which allows kitchen processors to perform several batches simultaneously, regardless of size. Production in small batches allows hyper-personalization of food products – decentralization of this method of production will meet the inevitable demand for faster, efficient and high quality food production.
At a time when demand is growing significantly in the food industry, factory managers are expected to maintain optimal levels of production as well as expand their offerings. In addition, plant managers are expected to maintain and adhere to strict hygiene protocols shown in a survey in which 95% of plant managers agreed that good hygiene is conducive to increasing efficiency in production lines. Levitating movers are made so that there is no wear, which eliminates the possibility of contamination, which makes the mechatronic system ideal for the food industry.
The equipment used in these types of operations must be able to withstand high pressure and high temperature cleaning processes. Beckhoff’s Xplanar system meets the European Hygiene Engineering & Design Group’s hygiene standard and has an IP69K protection standard, which means that XPlanar can withstand harsh chemicals and surfactant-based cleaning products.
With the growing demand for efficiency in production lines, seamless automation is essential for productivity, hygiene and production flow – especially in the food industry. Industry 4.0 facilitated the new trend for small batch production, a process that paves the way for flexibility in the food industry, and this method is an integral way to improve seamless efficiency in production lines; increase the levels of hygiene and productivity in operations, regardless of the size of the batches.
For more information on Beckhoff’s modular XPlanar transport system or other automation solutions that Beckhoff UK can offer, please visit the website.