With food chains becoming more complex, the potential for contaminants to get into food products increases, warns Barry Weller, a product manager with Mitsubishi Electric.
Secure automation platforms with integrated data logging capability are progressively replacing manual approaches, claims Weller. They will help to rebuild public confidence in the food supply chain and reduce the risk of contamination by dubiously sourced products, he adds.
Rebuild public trust
The question for food producers now is how they can reinforce their traceability measures and rebuild public trust, he argues. This doesn’t just hold true for the raw ingredients as they enter the manufacturing process, he adds. It is just as true at every stage of production from storage to mixing of ingredients and from cooking to packaging and from labelling to distribution.
Effective track and trace programmes are not optional: regulatory compliance demands it, he notes. Mitsubishi Electric’s systems help to manage the flow of data, which is critical when it comes to ensuring traceability throughout the food supply chain, says Weller.
The basic building blocks of these automation platforms are programmable logic controllers and human-machine interfaces, and recent product introductions have further emphasised data logging. Enhanced capabilities on these products enable data to be logged from a range of connected devices including sensors, actuators, servos, inverters and temperature controllers ensuring complete traceability of production.
The data logger supports timed logging as well as trigger logging of events such as an alarm, for example. This is very important for diagnosing the causes that led to the trigger event and minimises downtime. Time-stamped audit trails are also maintained.