High performance automation in bakery production
Bakery automation uses innovative solutions to address business and production issues facing bakers. Modern bakery plants built around automated control systems help bakers improve productivity and flexibility, reduce energy costs and boost operational efficiencies. Importantly, they give companies the ability to respond quickly to changes in raw materials, product variety and variable demand.
From shop floor machine automation and HMIs that enable operators to adapt processes and optimise production to address variation of raw mterails through to integrated production lines and management reporting.
The bakery industry is very much consumer led. With a constant requirement for new varieties of product, bakeries compete to gain shelf space and customer brand loyalty. Recent market trends have seen the rise of convenience foods and ‘healthy options’.
Quickly adapting to new trends and demands, producers can win market share and increase profit margins. Demands at the bakery production level need to reflect changing consumer requirements. Bakery equipment and processes need to be flexible enough to cope with a variety of modes of operation that match the demand for volume and variety, whilst balancing variables such as cost and quality of raw ingredients, energy management, minimising waste, and conforming to the appropriate regulatory requirements.
Mitsubishi Electric industrial automation has extensive experience in bakery production and provides a wide variety of automation solutions to meet the varying demands from a modern bakery business.
Meeting regulatory demands
Combining manufacturing automation and IT technology enables bakeries to meet regulatory demands like documented Track and Trace systems. Mitsubishi control systems report information to higher level systems and give connectivity to ERP and management systems such as SAP.
Mitsubishi’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) tools integrate information from across an entire organisation, including manufacturing, stock levels, sales, with external information. This ensures everybody involved in the business is fully informed of all relevant information, enabling appropriate decision making and ensuring efficiency and productivity.
The baking process begins with the flour plant; it is a critical input into the business. Creating and maintaining the correct environment at this stage of the process ensures consistency of the dough and hence quality of the final product. Accurate batching of the raw ingredients into the mixer stage also maintains consistency and quality from the beginning and leads to improvements in yield.
Process signals are collected from devices such as ultrasonic level sensors, flow meters, bar codes and load cells/weigh scales, which are fed into the control system. Interfacing to these signals is made easy using Mitsubishi’s wide range of input and remote networking solutions. Full diagnostic and error detection of the network and signals leads to easy maintenance and accurate secure knowledge of stock levels.
Delivery of the flour into the plant is handled using variable speed drive technology, leading to energy saving and reduced stress on the mechanical components of the plant. Accurate speed control enables precise delivery of the ingredients to the mixer stage. Inventory control of raw ingredients requires the process to alert when stock levels demand it. Utilising Mitsubishi’s non-PC based secure IT connectivity technology ensures timely re-ordering and reporting is managed automatically through the control system which links to the inventory management system.
The next post will consider the improved control and automation of: Mixers and Dividers
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