Increasing demand for smarter facilities and evolving customer needs are steering equipment manufacturers to incorporate more data into their equipment design and fabrication processes. This shift has led to increased productivity for equipment manufacturers and produced a host of benefits for end-users.
“Manufacturers have adapted – rather than depending on visual confirmation of system parameters, we’re increasingly integrating data from multiple source points,” says Thomas DeBoom, director of engineering at Anderson Dahlen. DeBoom, whose background is in food process engineering and project engineering, sees data improving manufacturers’ precision.
“We’ve evolved from the art of visual inspection of systems conditions to an exponentially broader and data-driven view,” he says.
DeBoom partners with end-users to ensure new data instrumentation is expertly integrated into equipment to produce high-quality data with safe materials and applications.
Such instrumentation in equipment has significantly changed how data is collected and used for modern manufacturing facilities. For instance, load cells and flow metering provide flow control with weight intelligence, reducing cycle times by sensing exactly when a batch has emptied out of a mixer, DeBoom explains. Incorporation of data points also carries implications for product quality and safety. “Source points like precise position indicators on mix-proof valves can verify that cleaning fluids haven’t cross-contaminated the production stream,” he adds.
This collected data serves various primary uses such as system performance reporting, condition monitoring, predictive and preventative maintenance notifications, quality control analysis, production traceability and flexibility, and more.
The integration of data collection offers tangible benefits for manufacturers and end-users. One such example is large manufacturers’ need to precisely match product characteristics when operations are spread across different systems and facilities. “It is rare in the food industry to have two systems that are built with identical equipment and controls,” says DeBoom. This presents challenges to simple copying of setpoints. Process data collection provides information to ensure critical parameters are applied across all transformations, no matter where or when they’re employed.”