by Melinda Corley
Physically wired sensors posed a problem for Patti Engineering as they prepared to upgrade the temperature control systems at Hill County Bakery in Texas. Refrigeration is critical to food manufacturing, and accurate reporting is necessary to meet food safety standards and regulations. Finished and raw baked goods and ingredients must be maintained at precise temperatures to ensure both the quality and safety of the product. With a 55,000 square foot cold storage facility and multiple temperature zones, the project of upgrading the temperature control systems offered an interesting challenge for Patti Engineering.
The wired sensors within the plant were becoming dislodged by operators on forklifts, and during operations. In some cases, they even posed a risk of falling into product, which generated an enormous amount of waste due to contamination risk mitigation. In addition, the hard-to-reach locations of some of the sensors posed challenges for wiring.
When the time came to upgrade the system to prevent these issues, the first step Patti Engineering took was to install wireless temperature sensors to prevent the problem of exposed wiring and sensors that could be easily dislodged or disrupted. Patti Engineering chose InduSoft Web Studio to act as the HMI for this project, due to the availability of hundreds of hardware drivers and the flexibility of the software to create HMI/SCADA applications that can be easily upgraded as new requirements are introduced. This allowed them to select the best wireless sensor products and incorporate them seamlessly into the temperature control SCADA.
Patti Engineering developed a customized HMI solution using InduSoft Web Studio that offered Hill Country Bakery everything they needed to monitor the temperature zones, collect the data, create reports, and meet SQF requirements. The new system offers real-time monitoring of all temperature zones that can be viewed from the SCADA system installed in the facility manager’s office, or on mobile devices that use a secure username and password system to display data. The system also automatically sends email notifications of alarms for temperature shifts, or any issue which might compromise the safety of the ingredients stored within the facility. The new system also mitigated the risk of sensors being damaged or falling, while ensuring reliable connectivity between the probes and the SCADA system.
The InduSoft Web Studio HMI communicates directly to the gateway of the temperature probes via ModbusTCP, which offers the system a direct link to the data and saved Patti Engineering and Hill Country Bakery substantial costs for additional PLC hardware and development time.
The success of the system designed for Hill Country Bakery by Patti Engineering, and the flexibility of InduSoft Web Studio mean that the system can easily be updated as requirements expand, hardware changes, or the system becomes more integrated with other aspects of the facility controls.
Hill Country Bakery has plans to expand the system to include control and adjustment of temperature settings. An ambitious plan for the future may potentially include data collection and monitoring for manufacturing lines, along with OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) tools to improve the efficiency of the production lines within the bakery.