The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace. In the March/April 2016 issue, we asked: What types of plant automation should food manufacturers be looking at to most effectively streamline their operations?
Steve Malyszko, P.E., President & CEO, Malisko Engineering Inc.
Let’s focus on just the process side of food manufacturing. No one runs your process better than your best operators, with or without automation — no one. These individuals take great pride in producing your best and highest quality products, while doing it in the most efficient way possible. They take ownership of the process and they communicate frequently with the QA lab and maintenance. Call it talent, call it hard work, call it simply the love of doing a good job for their employer. Your best operators streamline your operation — but your best operators can’t be at the plant 24 hours a day. Others less experienced or knowledgeable must fill in, and the plant manager will expect the same consistent high quality and output goals to be met. If a food manufacturer is looking “where” to apply automation “effectively” to streamline their operation, then simply grab your best operators and examine the areas that have the greatest effect on consistent food quality and the output rate of high quality saleable product. Your best operators and your QA lab will quickly tell you where the most sensitive parts of the process exist. Apply automation at these critical places in the process and experience the greatest impact on streamlining your process. The investment might include installing additional instrumentation, so your control system can “see,” “touch” and “feel” what goes on in the process in order to make sound decisions just like your best operators. The investment most likely will also include automatic data collection and information display of key performance indicators (KPIs) and critical control parameters (CCPs). Working as a collective team can help identify the areas to apply automation to most effectively streamline the plant’s unique operation.