Manufacturing News

Engineers, get ready to switch gears

January 5, 2004
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If your goal is 100% consistent product, it may be time to reconsider some of your standard operating procedures. A process service company called Thinkage challenges food processors to take the road less traveled. According to Thinkage President Mark Grace, variation-defined as deviation from product specifications and operating procedures and standards-is created as product moves through the manufacturing process.

Traditionally, efforts to control variation have focused on end-of-the-line quality control or fine-tuning pieces of process equipment. Grace says product variation can be eliminated, but only by controlling the state of the product as it moves through the manufacturing process.

"The paradigm has shifted for the food and beverage industries. It's no longer about bigger and better machinery. It's about the product," Grace states. "Looking at machines, linking machines, fine-tuning machines won't achieve 100 percent compliance unless you are also looking at the product."

Thinkage uses BOC's proprietary Think Gates™ offering, which employs hundreds of state-of-the-art sensors to monitor product attributes, such as odor, core temperature, and moisture, in real time.

Thinkage also asks plant personnel to embrace another paradigm shift because it provides all of the sensors, software and service personnel as a monthly service with no capital cost. According to Grace, one of the paybacks includes engineering groups who can focus on the total process and devise entire control algorithms for achieving 100% compliance on specifications.

The company maintains it can help plants increase yields up to 20%, decrease downtime by as much as 70%, eliminate waste and off-spec product, better data capture and customer/government reporting, and improve product quality and safety.

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