PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 49

OPERATIONS

GETTING THE

Strategies for realizing the
full benefits of automation.

By Jennifer Semple | jsemple@sosland.com

T

The potential benefits of combining automated processing
systems, where decisions are driven by up-to-date data and
a technology-enabled workforce across an entire organization, are vast. Prioritizing where to start, optimizing what
is already in-house and truly implementing automation
throughout a processing company are key.
Roger Woehl, chief technical officer at SafetyChain,
Novato, Calif., said there are two perspectives on where automation offers the greatest benefits.
"The first and most obvious is the bottom-line savings
from increasing productivity," Woehl said. "The second,
and maybe less clear, is the value of protecting brands and
reputations from recalls or quality issues. These issues, although less common, can be far more damaging to business value. Wholistic systems that drive automation across
operations, safety and quality drive a single approach for
maximizing immediate ROI while protecting long-term
brand quality and reputation."
As the production of food and treats for cats and dogs
more closely matches the product formats and processes
seen in human food productions, managing quality becomes more complex.
"The standard for pet food is rising dramatically," said
Aaron Kaiser, supplier quality engineer, Freshpet, Secaucus,
N.J. "...An important factor in ensuring that level of quality is being able to monitor key quality parameters of raw
materials and finished product and getting that data to
the decision-makers in real-time. This promotes a proactive approach to assuring quality rather than one that is
more often reactive and control based. This approach most

While many think of
automation in terms
of reducing the need
for humans, there
are many aspects to
automation that are
augmenting human
interactions to make
operations more
Already in-house
Pete Ensch, chief executive officer, WEM Automation, New efficient. Often, these
Berlin, Wis., said the low hanging fruit in a processing en- are the simplest
vironment is to fully utilize the automation that is already places to start.
Sosland Publishing
in-house.
"So many times, you see pet food producers not using
the automation they have," Ensch said. "Often because they
have an operator that believes they can run better without
it or there was an electrical or mechanical failure that required a short-term bypass that became a long-term fix. Go
back, review what you have, fire it back up, use continuous
improvement techniques to prove the automation works -
it will justify doing more.
"[Processors] often have a number of automation and
control suppliers used throughout the plant in different areas but not much integrated," he added. "Pulling data from
all of the areas can be a real challenge. Working with an automation supplier that also does SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] or MES [manufacturing execution systems] can be a real advantage because these systems
can pull all the information into a central location so you
can more easily and effectively use the data."

importantly assures the production of safe, consistent,
high-quality food for our pets, but also reduces waste and
increases efficiency."
The potential is exciting but the reality of how to realize the full benefits is complex. Selecting what to automate
and how to fully utilize available technology to positively
impact the overall business can be a challenge.

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PET Food Processing - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PET Food Processing - September 2020

PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 1
PET Food Processing - September 2020 - 1
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