Exposing inefficiencies in processing
posted on 21 February, 2013 by Chris Jones
Chris Jones, Group Sales Manager – Controls
Processing industries are becoming more automated to optimise production to meet output targets, as well as compensate for higher operating costs and maximise efficiency. However, integrating new technology into existing production lines can be difficult and for many inefficiencies remain a key challenge, affecting both profitability and competiveness. In our latest blog, I’ll be taking a closer look at some of the most common inefficiencies in the processing industry.
These issues can apply to raw materials and the finished product. Besides incurring considerable costs, potential customer complaints can be a real threat to the reputation of a business. With regulators, such as the FDA, pushing for more “preventive” mechanisms to ensure product quality and safety, this inefficiency is one that requires urgent attention.
Lack of sustainability
Electricity, gas and water are unnecessarily wasted on a daily basis in many plants. Outdated or badly maintained machinery is frequently at the centre of the problem and is the main cause for large energy bills.
Labour costs still account for the biggest share of any facility’s budget and plant managers are keen to get the most out of their workforce. However, multi-tasking is not always easy when outdated procedures prevail and production uptime is often wasted with maintenance and repair work.
Today’s products are processed at unprecedented speeds, increasing the chances of breakage. Often caused by inaccurate control equipment or badly tuned processes, one breakage can affect the entire production cycle and easily damage a large number of goods before the fault is noticed.
Process inefficiencies are one of the hardest to detect. Although paramount to production flow, control systems are rarely commissioned with a full set of finely tuned control loops. As a result, many variables are simply left to chance and can cause frequent stoppages, affecting product quality and diminishing production line efficiency.
Poor environmental control
Industrial pollution via discharges and atmospheric emissions poses a real threat to our planet. The cause of a leakage may be found too late, not only resulting in environmental damage, but also in hefty fines, and in some cases even plant closures.
As you can see, inefficiencies within the manufacturing industry are numerous, and can come at a considerable cost to plant managers, consumers and the environment. However, by choosing the right control systems or by simply re-tuning existing technology, inefficiencies can be minimised.
Programmable logic controllers (PLC) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems can be easily integrated into existing production lines. They can help expose the most inefficient parts of the line and identify where technology could improve workflow. When paired with a concise and clear Human Machine Interface (HMI), any existing PLC enables operators to quickly react to faults, minimising downtime and wastage.
Collecting detailed and reliable data from as many parts of the production process as possible maximises productivity and maintains food safety and product quality. Barcode scanning and in-line monitoring systems ensure products are always within specification and adhere to all food safety regulations.
With so many controls systems available, it is vital all inefficiencies are identified before choosing a suitable technology. At tna, we are experts in control system technology and can help you find the right solution for your business. Our wide range of control systems target a variety of process inefficiencies and our experts can demonstrate how to integrate them into your production line or improve the set up of your current control system.
To find out how tna can help your business become more efficient please contact us for a complimentary copy of our white paper “Exposing inefficiencies in processing”.?