Food Engineering

Integration from the ground up

October 1, 2003


Two centralized databases underlie ABB’s conceptual design for the ERP and process level interface at Danish Crown’s new slaughterhouse, which will be Europe’s largest when production begins next year. Source: ABB A/S.
Between Mad Cow disease and global terrorism concerns, European food processors face integration imperatives that are at least as great as those of their North American counterparts. For those exporting to the United States, traceability requirements that kick in December 12 are the same as those facing domestic firms, and compliance with EU and U.S. standards is critical to long-range success.

One of the most ambitious food automation projects ever undertaken on the Continent is nearing completion in Horsens, Denmark. Danish Crown is investing $270 million in the facility, which will process up to 75,000 hogs a day when it comes on line in 2004. Part of that investment is in an integrated automation and information system that will provide a high level of product traceability, as well as compliance with animal welfare, ergonomic and environmental sustainability guidelines. The system ultimately will integrate all 28 of Danish Crown’s slaughter and pork processing plants.

At the heart of the Horsens system are two central databases where business and process systems interface. A real-time database that can process up to 50 transactions per second and store up to one gigabyte of data per week will service PLCs, SCADA systems and other devices in the processing area, according to Carsten Bruun, project manager with systems integrator ABB. Real-time data will be regularly transferred to a long-term database, where all information older than a week will reside. Rather than exchange data with other systems, the long-term database will only make data available for reports and other inquiries. Billing systems, warehouse management and the SAP enterprise resource planning functions are integrated with production data through a SQL server interface. The backbone of the system is ABB’s AMES (Advanced Manufacturing Execution System) concept, which expedites data exchange between the business and plant-floor systems.

Each process area will have an autonomous database to allow production to continue in the event of an interruption in the primary system. One pig will be slaughtered every four seconds, and an error-tolerant dimension is critical, according to Bruun. Slaughter records for each animal are created, beginning with RFID-tag scans. Data are recorded locally and later appended to other information in the process database.