The latest developments in technology for the food and beverage industry

Adroit Technologies have been developing real-time SCADA software for well over 25 years. That means, they understand the critical nature of communications. Reliability and speed of SCADA to PLC comms defines them. An automation system that talks to 20 PLC’s on a network, scanning thousands of IO in sub-second resolution 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is the expected norm as process systems rely on this to operate. “I believe that we are still a way off running larger critical SCADA systems in the Cloud, even with 5G networks I can’t see this happening for a few more years. Security, reliability, manageability and fear of losing control are still big factors at play,” says Managing Director, Dave Wibberley.

The latest developments in technology for the Food & Beverage industry

The challenge facing the F&B industry today, is to fully integrate production lines within factories and to make them completely transparent to all levels of management, not just for the sake of implementing more advanced solutions, but to boost competitiveness too. To achieve these key objectives, manufacturers need specialist support from companies who act not as product suppliers but as true partners, and who can develop and offer targeted solutions to satisfy the specific needs of the industry. It is, therefore, essential to find a partner who offers a complete automation package, whose know-how extends beyond the field of automation, and who can guarantee the total integration of all systems as well as increased productivity and product quality.

The value of the underlying data, when combined with related commercial and other meta data, is immensely valuable. Cloud services that offer an easier way to derive that value is becoming easier to use. So, systems that derive value from SCADA data are and will be in the Cloud, de-risking the reliability and effort of maintenance, while the continued obsolescence hardware cycles are taken care of by ‘software as a service’ models. Products like historians, reporting solutions, alarm management and even system health services will all become offered as a service.

All Adroit Technologies’ automation products are designed, developed and produced in the Mitsubishi Electric factories and, therefore, guarantee effective integration and easy communication between systems. This makes the development of production systems so much easier, and allows users to cut both design and wiring costs. Another important feature of the solutions is that they are exceptional reliable, which ensures maximum performance with minimum machine downtime and maintenance costs. Adroit Technologies as an authorised Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation Distributor has all these characteristics.

Data collection: CC-Link IE TSN and MES module

Mitsubishi Electric’s vision is oriented towards the future and the evolution of Industry 4.0. In the food sector, it is extremely important to monitor the progress of production. Products must be free from external contaminants and must achieve the highest quality levels even in terms of hygiene. Data monitoring needs to be extremely precise and reliable to achieve this objective. Data must, therefore, be collected and processed by advanced IT systems. Companies in the Food & Beverage industry need increasingly reliable solutions to run their factories as efficiently as possible. Mitsubishi Electric is currently developing solutions based on powerful MES software to process data collected from the field and integrate it with data from the company ERP to produce production algorithms that are ideal for the system. Simplifying data collection and processing also makes a major contribution to minimising any errors that can compromise production.

Mitsubishi Electric’s product portfolio spans everything from electro-mechanical equipment to line and factory supervision systems. In particular, for use in iQ-Platform automation applications, the MES interface module can collect production data automatically from the field and populate a database for use by company MES and ERP systems. The great advantage of this system is that MES modules do not require programming and that the data they provide is already formatted for use by MES or ERP systems, making the development of data processing systems both quick and easy.

The reliability and accuracy of collected data are guaranteed by the innovative CC-Link IE Industrial Ethernet network. This uses TSN technology with a speed of 1Gbit and revolutionary data handling to permit the management of synchronised systems like Motion Control, I/O handling and functional safety on the same network.

Edge computing for optimised production

Mitsubishi Electric’s new MELIPC solution enables the real-time data collection from food production systems. This industrial computer permits real-time edge computing, data analysis and reporting functions and generates a smart model that ensures continuous production control. The MELIPC hardware platform uses the latest technological achievement in which the Edge layer ensures interaction between OT and IT and permits total integration and transparency in new smart factory developments. The MELIPC platform is characterised by powerful, high-speed data collection (big data), 1Gbit Industrial Ethernet, and iQ EDGECROSS software for real-time, artificial intelligence-based data processing. Thanks to this solution, collected data can be stored continuously and analytic tools based on mathematical and statistical algorithms, and artificial intelligence functions are used to obtain an ideal model of the controlled process. This function provides continuous feedback to optimise production and to manage quality control and preventive maintenance automatically without requiring specific competences. In food and beverage applications, the MELIPC solution can foresee potential problems and avoid errors by programming proactive maintenance work to maintain the efficiency of the production process and to improve safety and quality. 

This technology is part of Mitsubishi Electric’s new Mitsubishi Electric’s AI State of Art (MAiSArt) concept, which sets a new standard for integration between industrial level technology and the implementation of adaptive functions based on artificial intelligence.

Speed, precision, and flexibility in production processes

The high production volumes that are typical of the F&B industry demand solutions that guarantee speed and precision. For this reason, in addition to powerful new motion controllers, the new MELSERVO J5 automation platform also contains MR-J5 servo drives with a bandwidth of 3.5 kHz and battery-less absolute encoders with over 67 million pulses per rotation, guaranteeing excellent performance and cycle times of 31.25μs. The programming of different systems can be simplified using ‘iQ MONOZUKURI’. This ready-to-use ‘motion library’ software solution is specific to the world of packaging.

Robots too are becoming increasingly common in the world of food production. Product customisation is a particularly important aspect of modern food packaging as it gives producers a competitive advantage. It depends, however, on the flexibility of production. Today, thanks to artificial intelligence-based algorithms and innovations in robotics, it permits the development of dynamic systems that can adapt to changing production needs. Mitsubishi Electric’s MELFA robots offer a high level of flexibility. They come in a complete range of models, structured for different levels of collaboration, and enable their partners to develop custom solutions that overcome the traditional dichotomy between industrial robots and cobots.

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