Food wastage and power quality

Food and beverage manufacturing is becoming a 24-hour production cycle. Because of this, production lines are now heavily automated; however, this increased reliance on sophisticated automation is making power quality issues more impactful, especially when it comes to food waste. Here Darcy Simonis, Vice President for ABB’s Food and Beverage segment, explains how fixing power quality can reduce food waste in an increasingly continuous production cycle. Food is delicate. Therefore, even slight power disruptions, from the grid, that interrupt production processes can lead to a lot of food wastage. Disruption of machines in food production and refrigeration can mean large quantities of food being burnt, spoiled or contaminated, meaning that, due to stringent health and safety regulations, must then be discarded. This can escalate fast in a continuous production system because if even one piece of equipment goes out of sync, and is not caught quickly, large quantity of products will go to waste.  Disruptions from low power quality can cause machinery to shut down in an unsafe manner. Low power quality is when power supplies are disrupted and no longer power machinery properly, such as voltage drops. These are sudden increases in current that cause voltage to drop over the impedance of a supply network, causing the voltage to vary. These voltage drops result in damage to machinery that may require parts to be replaced or can lead to severe health and safety issues.  For example, if a conveyor was to break down while feeding bread through an oven, it could lead to the loaves igniting, which would not only cause severe damage to the conveyor belt and oven, but the fire could then spread putting the whole plant at risk. Improper shutdowns for smart-machines can also damage internal systems, scrambling the data and leading to faults and loss […]