Directive 178/2002 of the European Parliament defines a comprehensive safety system covering the entire production chain. Its requirement for traceability in product manufacture and distribution means the subject of tracking and tracing is right at the top of the agenda in the beverage industry.
Syskron, the IT subsidiary within the Krones group, has developed a range of software products for precisely this purpose. The technology has been designed to enable a production line to run as efficiently as possible. The tracking and tracing system establishes complete-coverage batch tracking from the production line and the dispatch department all the way to the customer.
In addition to traceability, the software gives manufacturers the opportunity to identify means of increasing efficiency resulting in cost savings. By recording all data relevant to the process, the line's owner can obtain the basic data required for proactively designing and optimising the production process involved.
Within the beverage industry, the specific cost of bottle production is a key variable in the overall price - and competitiveness - of a product. Syskron says that its software can determine almost immediately where the biggest energy consumption within a production line is located.
Syskron's line management system (LMS) thus constitutes an expanded version of the field-proven LDS packages for bottling and packaging operations. The LMS enables production orders to be given to the various machines in the line from a central location, together with the product parameters concerned.
When a line's performance begins to deteriorate over the course of time, there may be many different causes involved. Syskron has developed software capable of analysing a line, diagnosing its weak points, optimising its processes and implementing the solutions. This is all aimed at achieving a sustained improvement in efficiency, and thus reaching the output for which the bottling and packaging line concerned had originally been designed.
For maintenance and servicing work, Syskron has created a tool enabling the life-cycle costs of bottling and packaging machinery to be reduced. This new programme is called SIPS, which stands for Syskron Intelligent Plant Maintenance System. Unplanned line standstills are avoided or minimised by means of appropriate preventive maintenance work.
Growing public awareness of food safety issues, the growing threat of bioterrorism and the introduction of stringent legislation are changing the face of food production. Supermarkets on both sides of the Atlantic are introducing RFID technology, and those in the food production industry are beginning to be aware that they have little option but to move with the changes.
It is clear that IT technology within food production is here to stay. Cutting edge software can help ensure traceability, reduced consumption figures and downtimes, and ultimately create a more holistic line operation.