According to Richard Sturt, business development manager for Rockwell Automation, the technique is now being used in batch soft drink production and by snack food manufacturers to create different flavour combinations during crisp manufacture. "There are already people doing both those things," said Sturt, although he refused to divulge the names of the companies involved.
Sturt revealed this information at the launch of Rockwell Automation's latest generation of PlantPAx process automation system, which is being used by these manufacturers as a means of late customisation for mixing different ingredient recipes. Processors are making changes to soft drink mixes before they are bottled and to oils used to transport different flavours to crisps.
PlantPAx is also used in milk powder plants, for process control in sugar production and for distributed computer system upgrades in breweries, Sturt added. And in a completely separate business area, it has also been used for late customisation of dye changes in carpet manufacture.
PlantPAx System Release 2.0 adds new features for high availability, device integration and asset management, design productivity, batch and sequencing control, and operations productivity, Rockwell claims. It is said to address the entire spectrum of batch applications. At the most complex level, new batch server software adds key capabilities such as intelligent recipes, improved runtime user control, expanded data collection and reporting, and enhanced material management.
In the past late customisation has been used as a means of adding different flavours to yogurts based on a common natural yogurt matrix. And scientists at the University of Nottingham have worked on the development of fast-structuring' technologies for late stage customisation of products ranging from spreads to cosmetics.