Think the Industrial Internet is all about energy and transportation?
Consider the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Automation and control technologies can play a key role in helping food companies comply with FSMA’s requirements once Washington has clarified what those requirements will be. (The same is true for other parts of the globe, as well.)
“FDA doesn’t just want you to tell them what your procedure is, they want data to back it up,” says Katie Moore, global industry manager for food and beverage, GE Intelligent Platforms. “The data has to come from processing and packaging, but packaging is very important in all of this because that’s often where the problems occur. Not due to bad design, but just because of all the things that change on a packaging line, things like carton size, case count, date coding, allergen proofing, for example. If food manufacturers have control of their data, they can use it to prove they did the right thing, that the right product had the right label and the right bottle at the right time. And if something does go wrong, they’re more likely to capture it within the four walls of the factory before product even leaves the plant. And if it does leave the plant, the data will help them quickly pinpoint which production runs were involved.”
The challenge, of course, is that the data resides in multiple locations: in a machine PLC, in a data entry on an iPad, in a metal detector or checkweigher, in a LIM (Laboratory Information Management) system, in paper documents written by operators taking quality samples.
The Industrial Internet makes it possible to leverage this data to drive new levels of business performance:
- Smart controllers can sit on the packaging line, at the point of control.
- Enterprise-wide data historian software can collect, archive, and distribute large volumes of production information at high speeds.
- Vast amounts of raw data are converted to simple, actionable knowledge using current and proven mobile technologies to empower workers in real time.
“It’s essential to deliver all of this in a form factor that packaging line operators can digest easily,” says Moore. “Rather than making them go to a control room every time they need information where they have to look at 20 different screens to determine what is going on or what might happen soon, give them the information they need at the point of control.”
It’s no surprise that next month the packaging industry’s largest annual conference, Pack Expo, will heavily feature the Industrial Internet. Learn more.