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Future-proofing food and beverage production

Food and beverage production involves complex equipment that is developed over time. Readying these installations to meet requirements requires updates to the automation, monitoring and control systems. Here, I explain why software helps to create a comprehensive supply system, integrating production lines, sites and energy management systems. 

The manufacturing industry requires high levels of flexibility to adapt to changeable requirements in an agile and dynamic way. This is the case in the food and beverage industry, which faces specific challenges.  

Diverse Requirements
 A common challenge of the food and beverage sector is its unique characteristics, as the industry is distinguished by a great diversity of production methods. For example, the processes required to produce staple foods, such as flour or vegetable oil, are wildly different from those for pasta, coffee or potato chips. Even greater are the differences in the methods involved in drinks, jam or ready-meal production.  

In addition to production, packaging and storage processes also play essential, and often varied, roles. Food and beverage manufacturers often manage bottling plants and packaging machines as well as production equipment. For some time in this industry, water, energy supply, building automation and intralogistics have also been considered integral to production facilities.  

The machinery and control system hardware and software across these operations have often grown organically over several decades, resulting in a patchwork of technologies. However, on the journey to end-to-end production digitalization, full replacement of the equipment is not feasible for most producers, so an alternative is required — like COPA-DATA’s zenon platform.  

Connecting complex facilities
In food and beverage production, the zenon software platform is widely used for plant automation. It facilitates efficient engineering and automated operation of production plant and machinery.  

In fact, zenon also helps companies to handle exceptional operational situations and to maintain them in critical production facilities and infrastructures under extraordinary circumstances. Developed and continually improved over several decades, the software implements a high degree of automation to ease the handling and operation of complex equipment, its maintenance and engineering.  

Securing the future
Moreover, security is becoming increasingly important in the food and beverage industry. zenon therefore relies on central data storage and management of the underlying databases to meet the growing requirements. These include contemporary encryption methods, as well as multi-level authorization and authentication mechanisms. In fact, even the most secret recipes are protected against unauthorized access.  

Secure data management makes it easier for food and beverage producers to meet formal obligations of proof. This ensures full traceability of all processes in compliance with international regulations and legal provisions.  

As of zenon’s version 10, the security mechanisms are supplemented by the electronic signature — known as eSignature. It can be used to securely document the critical parameters of recipe or value changes. This makes it easy for users to implement the attributable, legible, contemporaneous, original and accurate (ALCOA) traceability scheme and the relevant food and drug administration (FDA) regulations.  

This allows companies to meet industry’s current and future requirements, which is crucial when creating a supply system by integrating production lines, production sites and energy management systems.  

In fact, a comprehensive software platform is essential when updating and upgrading legacy production facilities, reducing energy costs and merging several locations in a single operative unit. After all, facilitating a high degree of automation, while fulfilling obligations of proof, supports remote monitoring and control securely.