RF tagging system improves product traceability
A radio frequency tagging system for mobile tanks has meant improved traceability and increased efficiency for a food and dairy industry application.
Traceability solution lets a plant control system monitor product throughout its lifecycle wherever it is located in the facility. In this application, 'pods' of product carry an electronic signature tag allowing parameters such as temperature to be monitored and managed from the time product passes into the pod for transfer to the chilled room to when it is combined with other ingredients or packaged.
A radio frequency tagging system for mobile tanks has meant improved traceability and increased efficiency for a food and dairy industry application. As part of a range of traceability solutions, Invensys APV developed the system, which enables a plant control system to monitor a batch of product throughout its lifecycle wherever it is located in the facility.
In this situation, product previously was heated in a mix tank and hot filled into large size pouches. The pouches were then chilled, manually loaded onto tote bins, and transferred to a chilled room. Pouched products then had to be carried by hand to be mixed with other ingredients or packaged.
Under the new system, product is heated in the same way. But then, it is passed to a scraped surface heat exchanger and chilled to the desired temperature before being consigned to a mobile tank, or 'pod.' Each pod has a unique electronic signature, which is transmitted to the control room, allowing the status of any pod to be tracked at any stage.
Production staff can identify type and age of product quickly, and whether the pod is empty, full or awaiting cleaning. Availability of data contributes to plant efficiency and improves plant hygiene. An operator can check the tracking cycle to determine if the pod has been cleaned prior to refill. A fail-safe mechanism prevents refilling should the pod be mistakenly connected to the filling station without going through the cleaning routine.
Product temperature can be monitored from the time product passes into the pod for transfer to the chilled room to when it is combined with other ingredients or packaged. If the temperature of a processed product rises above predefined limits, the operator is alerted. The system also logs when a product is consigned to the cold room, providing an audit trail that helps monitor the entire supply chain and ensures that product is removed in chronological order.
Automated yield reporting assesses product losses. More accurate than any paper system, the electronic reports alert staff to any increases in losses and help pinpoint where problems lie. The system’s ability to track each batch of product with accuracy helps improve efficiency and reduce losses. The system has been noted for its contribution to product safety and was recently selected for installation by two food processing plants in the U.K.
—Jeanine Katzel, Senior Editor, Control Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org