A manufacturer and supplier of meat products to the food industry is using two ABB RVG200 paperless data recorders to help ensure its products are produced to the highest levels of safety and quality. Used by the food producer to monitor and record temperatures in different parts of its factory, the two recorders are helping to ensure that the right ambient conditions are maintained throughout its production lines, freezers, raw meat chillers and dispatch area.
The meat products produced here are then used by other food manufacturers as part of products, such as sandwiches and canned goods. It supplies a range of processed meat products that can be delivered chilled, frozen, cooked or raw to suit customers’ production and packaging needs.
Accurate temperature control is vital in helping to ensure the quality of the company’s products. Previously, temperature monitoring across the site was decentralised, with separate monitors indicating any temperature variations in particular areas. If an unexpected variation occurred, the QA department would need to spend time finding out when it started and which batches of product may have been affected.
To help overcome the problem, the company wanted a central monitoring system but had judged PLCs as too expensive for the application. A solution that could remotely change the set points of the temperature monitors was desirable, as some are sited in areas where access is difficult.
ABB recommended its RVG200 paperless recorders to meet the needs of the application. With 24 inputs enabling direct connection of mA, mV, TC, RTD, voltage and digital signals, the recorders provide the ability to collect reliable, highly accurate data from connected process instruments.
Together, the two recorders are used to collect data from across the site. One recorder monitors temperature in high risk areas while the other deals with low risk areas.
Both are mounted in a panel which has a beacon light that is activated upon the occurrence of a temperature alarm to attract the attention of the QA staff. The panel also has a dedicated button to acknowledge alarms. The appropriate recorder shows the area where the temperature alarm occurred, together with the time and duration and the recorded temperature variation. In the event of a temperature variation outside of normal working hours, the production manager and QA staff can also now be notified by emails sent by the RVG200s to their smart phone.
Compared to the company’s previous set-up, the new temperature management system provides a much greater degree of intelligence, with the costs involved being a fraction of those of purchasing and setting up a PLC-based system. The Technical Manager for the meat producer, reported: “Using the RVG200 recorders has provided a simple and cost-effective solution to our needs. Using the recorders, it is now much easier for us to keep on top of alarms and get the data to prove we are keeping production areas at safe temperature limits.”
If there is a problem, the company’s QA staff can now quickly identify and isolate the production batch and test it to ensure it reaches the standard required. By using the RVG200’s icon-based menus or by swiping through the screens, the QA staff can quickly find the data they need. The data can be viewed in a variety of formats, including individual or grouped data in chart, bar graph or digital indicator displays. The RVG200’s ethernet connection is used to transfer data to ABB’s DataManager Pro PC software for analysis. DataManager Pro provides fully automatic collection of data, ensuring its database is kept fully up to date at all times.
This allows trend data to be analysed and makes it easy for the company to perform the due diligence tasks demanded by its customers. It can respond to requests to show particular temperature records of specific areas for periods specified by the customer, allowing it to prove that it has full control of its temperature regime.
Alarms can be disabled for scheduled events such as cleaning. The system can also distinguish between temperature variations caused by a chiller door being left open and the rise in temperature caused by a scheduled defrost cycle, ensuring time is not wasted investigating events with a known cause.
“Using the recorders has given us a much greater understanding of the causes and sources of temperature conditions around our site,” says the company’s Technical Manager. “We’ve also been able to further improve our quality control by making it quicker and easier to find and remove any batches that might have been affected by a temperature variation. Now, for example, if an alarm condition was flagged up at 11.30 am, we can immediately see how long the temperature was beyond the set limits and can take action to check the quality of any products that may have been affected.”
The RVG200 is part of ABB’s ScreenMaster family of paperless data recorders, offering a flexible solution for a range of industrial and commercial applications.
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