SCADA/HMI


Asset management strategies for the food industry

May 2000 SCADA/HMI

In today's highly dynamic food industry where customer demands and tastes change quickly, manufacturers are striving to produce high-quality products at the lowest cost in order to remain competitive. They are turning to computerised maintenance management systems(CMMS) or enterprise asset management(EAM) solutions in an effeort ot squeeze cost and efficiency out of their operations and to comply to rules and regulations set by government agencies such as the food and Drug Administration(FDA).

"For some food and beverage manufacturers, asset management may even be the only significant controllable cost," says Mike le Plastrier, Managing Director, Futuristix, South Africa's primary distributor of the Wonderware range of industrial automation, process ERP and EAM solutions.

Food manufacturing challenges "return on assets" continues to be the key concern for small and large, local and multinational manufacturers in a broad range of market segments such as snack foods, corn milling, poultry, beef, vegetable and fruit juices and other products.

In an industry that is characterised by increasing overseas competition, seasonal fluctuations, closures of under-performing divisions, fixed commodity pricing and tight margins, the objective is to maximise quality and production output by focusing on plant or facility improvements.

Concerns for public health and safety dictate that food companies must also comply with rules and regulations set by government agencies such as the FDA.

Collecting data or responding to requests can be difficult and time-consuming. This can further drive the cost of doing business. For these reasons, more and more companies are turning to maintenance or "asset management" strategies to support their business objectives and meet their quality, production and regulatory compliance goals.

EAM benefits

"By integrating EAM solutions to current production systems, food manufacturers can gain productivity improvements and competitive advantage in the following areas," continues le Plastrier.

Work planning and scheduling

With the increased mergers of under-performing divisions and seasonal factors in the growing, harvesting and processing of raw materials, many facilities are under pressure to achieve maximum productivity and output within a short period of time. This is further complicated by quick equipment changeovers that are often needed to process different batches of materials or incorporate thousands of unique ingredients. Reactive manufacturing environments are therefore no longer acceptable.

A computerised maintenance management system that is integrated to production and work flows is the key to a proactive environment. EAM enables work requests and tasks to be created and approved on-line quickly and easily in order to minimise equipment downtime. It lets production and maintenance managers quickly determine the availability of equipment, manpower and labour resources. The end-result is increased production uptime that helps to generate the best return on food manufacturing assets and a significant improvement in the company's bottom line.

Preventative and predictive maintenance

The objective of preventative and predictive maintenance is to reduce the probability of equipment failure during its operation by planning and completing maintenance work in conjunction with production requirements. Regular inspection and maintenance of equipment help to reduce the frequency, expense and possible dangers associated with unexpected breakdowns.

As food manufacturers are often faced with short timeframes to build their stocks for the year, preventative and predictive maintenance strategies are critical to support their production and cost control objectives. EAM helps to establish and define preventative and predictive maintenance routines and automatically trigger jobs based on user-defined operating criteria.

Materials management

In the food industry, equipment is generally custom-designed and built to specific processing and workflow requirements. When equipment breaks down, it may be the result of parts failure, which requires immediate ordering and expediting of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) inventory.

EAM supports production by ensuring a reliable supply of parts available to carry out work. EAM can accommodate many thousands of unique parts and enables production or maintenance managers to manage multiple warehouses, identify obsolete items and automate the item re-order process. The result is a more efficient procurement process that empowers employees to make immediate purchasing decisions. By automating the materials management and procurement process, food manufacturers can dramatically reduce overall cost by minimising the labour component.

EAM also helps to eliminate paperwork, which means that the purchasing department can focus its time on broader business issues such as improving supplier relations and negotiating strategic contacts that maximise productivity and help to improve the bottom line.

Data collection and analysis – with the vast amounts of data that is generated through normal maintenance activities, an EAM can play an integral part in transforming this data into meaningful information to effectively manage maintenance. Equipment repair history, spare parts usage, and preventative maintenance history are some of the key elements of information that can help food companies ensure that their products are manufactured consistently and are of high quality.

With the advent of client/server technologies, manufacturers can use EAM and other sophisticated asset management tools that easily transform data from diverse databases. These on-line analytical processing (OLAP) tools are designed for end-users and allow them to graphically build reports and graphical views of information that is critical to their operation.

Another area where data collection and analysis is important is in regulatory compliance, particularly with government agencies like the FDA. Concerns for public health and safety have resulted in new regulations, revisions and amendments. Each year, food manufacturers must keep on top of changes to avoid penalties and fines for non-compliance. An integrated EAM can help streamline the data collection process and result in better management of regulatory or compliance information.

"EAM is at its most effective when tightly integrated with the environment it is designed to benefit," says le Plastrier. "This includes realtime and on-line monitoring of asset status just like any other industrial automation application. A good example of this is the integration of Factorysuite with Avantis- real-time monitoring not only for the control of processes but also the life cycle monitoring of the equipment that enables those processes in the first place. In other words, EAM needs a 'bottoms up' approach based on the activities at the plant level rather than some academic process that ignores the everyday realities of efficient production."

Conclusion

Food manufacturers can adapt maintenance and asset management strategies in order to support their business objectives and meet their quality, production and regulatory compliance goals. By integrating EAM to production processes, manufacturers can achieve increased production uptime; more efficient work planning and scheduling; engineered solutions for repetitive problems; increased commitment to preventative and predictive maintenance; improved maintenance, repair and overhaul materials management resources and more streamlined data collection for analysis and regulatory compliance.


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