Industrial Control Panels Impacting the Food Industry

The food industry is respectfully one of the largest and most important to human life. Industrial control panels play a vital role in the different roles of the production process. High quality digital control panels ensure safety, quality and the streamlining of the production process.

An important thing to distinguish at this point is that, unlike other industries the food industry is divide into different subsections. The food industry can be divided further into food processing industry, food production industry, food extraction industry and food service industry. These are all a part of the food industry, which makes it one of the most diverse industries in the world. It is a testament to its size that in the recent years the food industry that has been operation for a very long time has started to witness almost unprecedented growth.

Control PanelThe increase can be attributed to the changing global economic scenario and the way the industry of food is being run. There is extreme competition within the industry with each company looking to make the most of their unique advantages and quality production.

A Rise in Demand

As mentioned above the past few decades have seen unprecedented growth in food sector. Whether it is the production industry or the packaging and processing industry, there have been calls for an increase in production and a step up in the speed with which the service has been provided as well as its quality.

A gauge of the increase in demand is that the food industry has moved towards preservation and processing methods. These methods has been developed with years of hard work in a way that they can elongate the life of the product and ensure its quality while not altering its sensory or nutritional properties. This has been especially true with regards to freshly prepared foods. Since these are the foods that have a lesser amount of sugar, preservatives, additives, salt and acid added into them.

The problem that they faced in this regard was that the use of preservatives in this regard resulted in alteration of the product’s characteristics. Even the use of mild preservatives can result in the pasteurization of products, there was a need for a hygienic processing equipment to be created and a list of processing equipment used to make sure no chemical was able to affect the characteristics of the product while it was being processed or preserved.

The view to help protect the product from contamination warranted measures at the factory level as well as the equipment level. The primary impetus in this regard was placed on the design of the factory and most importantly the controls and sensors added to aid these controls placed on the equipment. Any equipment that is tasked with performing a task will either need individual supervision by staff or some other form of control placed over them. Individually monitoring each and every one of the product will be an impossible task, primarily because of the increase in demand.

The increase in demand has meant that there are suddenly greater levels of products to produce. Had the market not been as competitive controls would not have been as important since there would have been scarcity of options, that however is not the case. There are lots of options and competitors in the food industry today; hence the quality of the product needs to be high.

This means that any equipment tasked either with preserving, producing or packaging will need to have adequate controls over it to ensure that the quality is maintained and as a result customer expectations are not compromised.

Fulfilling the Need for Controls

Throughout the length of the article right up until now, there has been abundant mention of some kind of control being needed from these machines. The equipment needing control can be from any subsection/category among the food industry. There were two types of controls mentioned; one was the human controls while the other ones are any other types of controls. Human controls we have highlighted above are inadequate.

How can you be able to monitor a production facility of 800 machines producing thousands of products each day with a few employees at your disposal? If you increase the number of employees will the firm be able to reap the competitive advantages of using machine technologies when a plethora of employees are also part of its pay roll?

As a result of questions like these, digital control panels were developed to exercise control over equipment. Control Panels have a number of advantages. One of them is being able to fulfill the need for controls. There are several types of quality control panels available in the market, some of them are designed to deal with single equipment, other times they are designed with a technological capability of controlling a number of different equipment at once.

The Nerve Center

Control panels can be defined as being the nerves of an industry. They function similar to your brain in respect that they are complex, have an installation environment where they perform and also have an intelligent interface between systems. A digital control panel has the ability to be programmed according to the needs of the user. Once programmed, they will make sure that the program and the functions mentioned are performed by the machine or machines under their control.

The need for these industrial panels is felt in a number of field and industries such as the oil and gas industry, the chemical industry and not least the food processing, food packaging and food preservation industry.

Quality is the most important word when it comes to the food industry, since there are matters of health and safety involved with the intake of each product. To maintain a high quality it is important to make sure that equipment functions properly and down to their respective functions. Even minor errors in production can result in problems. For example, the ideal temperature of hot water to sterilize the utensils and containers needs to be between 110 and 121 Celsius. This water will typically be heated using an immersion or other kind of heater. The job of this heater in the food industry may seem insignificant, but if it is performed without adequate supervision it could result in considerable loss to the industry.

If the heater is left to heat the water either over or under the required limit, it would not only result in ineffective sterilization, it would also mean that any and all foods that are processed or preserved using that container or utensil will be contaminated.  The best way to avert this situation is by utilizing a temperature control panel that controls the functioning of the heater and ensure that it stays inside the temperature limit defined. Digital controls panels automatically will do that by keeping tabs on the water’s temperature using sensors attached to their surface.

Some Qualities

Making the choice of which industrial panel to choose and which one to ignore can be a big one. The most important thing in this regard is that some control panels are different to the other in their technological specifications. As mentioned above, some of them are able to control single equipment while others are able to control multiple equipment.

The choice you make will largely depend on the type of food industry you have the stage of process where you want the industrial control panel to operate. If there are a variety of equipment performing the same task, one control panel that has the ability to control multiple devices would be ideal. 

Here is a list of some of the qualities that the typical industrial control panels designed for use in the food industry will typically have.

  • Waterproof Enclosure
  • U.L. panel listing available
  • Touch screen User Interface for use with Gloved Hands
  • Suggested spare parts list
  • Servo motion control system with PLC interface
  • Rust Proof Design
  • ResistantTouch screen
  • Operator interface terminal connections
  • Long Term Availability
  • Onsite line commissioning, control check and custom system training
  • Mounted on a Mechanical Arm
  • Machine diagnostics on operator terminal for alarm recognition and correction
  • IP67 M12 Connectors and Cables for Gigabit Ethernet
  • Power, VGA, USB, RS-232
  • Atom D2550 1.86GHz Dual Core CPU
  • Industrial Motherboard with
  • I/O, power distribution
  • Historical data and trending
  • Fully IP65 Waterproof Stainless Steel Panel PC
  • Down angled LCD monitor (Dual-sided)
  • Custom graphics designed for your equipment using touch screen interfaces
  • Complete CAD drawing sets including
  • back panel layouts
  • Windows 7 Pro 32-bit Operating System
  • 64GB SATA Solid State Drive

How the Food Industry Relies on Industrial Control Panels?

The increase in the demand of consumable foods and the emphasis on quality has created an emphasis on balancing control and providing top quality. Control panels in general have a wide variety of applications the world over in a number of different industries. This is largely down to its considerable advantages. 

The same situation applies in this regard. Industrial control panels offer the food industry and all of its different sub categories a number of practical benefits. Some of them are highlighted below to facilitate in the understanding.

Added Value

Out of the two ways mentioned above to exercise adequate control over the products, only panels passed the test for economy and effectiveness. The use of these control panels saves the food industry from having to employ hundreds of extra employees to maintain and look after the functionality of the equipment. Often one control panel can do the work of many employees at once saving added costs for the business per product, in turn allowing for added value.

Quality

The most important thing to take into account is quality. Quality here has been mentioned in two separate contexts. The first one is the concerns itself with the quality of the product. Use of control panel ensures that quality products are produced. This simply put is because control panels are machines and the efficiency of machines is unquestionable unless there is a prevalent error running in it. As opposed to the humans, machines are faster in gauging, sensing accurately and reacting to the operations of the machines.

One the other hand the quality aspect refers to the quality of construction of the control panels. High quality panels are often created to make sure they withstand the environment of operations as well as are able to work efficiently throughout the ample workload. A digital control panels is put in place to ensure perfection in equipment performance and for that it needs to be perfect in itself as well.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that with the passage of time as the food industry has evolved so have their practices. The increase in the number of customers and demand for high quality products in a competitive market has meant the use of higher quality industrial control panels have become a must. In addition to providing the food industry control over their equipment have several other advantages. Some of them include advantages with respect to economy of the products while other ensures quality. At the given time, the use of industrial control panels in the food industry is integral for its efficient performance.

 

Check out Wattco’s portfolio of digital temperature control panels and get a quote today.

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