Discover 7 Ways Model Predictive Control Enhances Your Food and Beverage Operation

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Dan Riley | May 15, 2024

In the food and beverage (F&B) industry, competition is fierce, consumer preferences are constantly evolving, and regulations are strict. To navigate these challenges, plant engineering and operations managers strive to fine-tune production processes to cut down waste, save energy, and maintain top-notch product quality. Enter model predictive control (MPC), an innovative strategy key to operational excellence.

Operators can gain a deeper insight into advanced process control by exploring the critical steps needed to assess and implement a successful MPC project in the food and beverage industry with the help of a control system integrator.

Step 1: Determine MPC Goals and Scope

Before getting into the nitty-gritty details, it's crucial to nail down the objectives and scope of your project. Some common goals for implementing MPC in the F&B industry include:

  • Increasing production efficiency
  • Cutting down on energy usage
  • Minimizing waste and product variation
  • Guaranteeing product quality and safety.

Once you've outlined your objectives, pinpoint the processes and equipment that will be part of the project scope. This will lay strong groundwork and ensure everyone involved is on the same page.

Step 2: Evaluate the Current Control System

Take a deep dive into your existing control system to uncover gaps, limitations, or areas for improvement. This evaluation helps assess whether integrating MPC into your plant is feasible and what benefits it could bring. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Control system architecture: Check if your current setup can handle adding an MPC layer. If not, you might need to upgrade to a more advanced platform.
  • Control system performance: Examine historical data and compare your control system's performance against benchmarks to see where MPC could make a big difference.
  • Integration compatibility: To ensure a smooth process, make sure your current control system is compatible with MPC software.

Step 3: Choose the Right MPC Technology and Vendor

Selecting the right MPC technology and vendor is a critical step for a successful project. Working with the wrong partner can lead to complications and unnecessary costs. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Technical expertise: Look for a vendor capable of providing a tailored MPC solution that fits your needs.
  • Industry experience: Choose a vendor with a proven track record in the food and beverage industry, showing they understand the unique challenges and requirements.
  • Scalability: Confirm that the MPC technology you choose can adapt to future changes in your plant's operations, whether scaling up or down.
  • Support and training: Opt for a vendor that offers comprehensive support and training to guarantee a smooth transition and ongoing success.

Step 4: Create a Comprehensive Project Plan for MPC Implementation

Once you've chosen the appropriate MPC technology and vendor, it's time to map out a detailed project plan. Here's a few items to include:

  • A timeline with milestones for each project stage, covering everything from system design and implementation to testing, commissioning, and post-project support.
  • A risk management plan outlining potential obstacles and strategies to mitigate them.
  • A resource allocation plan detailing the personnel, equipment, and financial resources needed at each project stage.

Step 5: Put the MPC Solution into Action

During the implementation phase, partner closely with your chosen vendor to ensure the MPC solution aligns with your project goals and smoothly integrates with existing control systems. Here's what you'll be focusing on:

  • System design: Work with the vendor to craft a tailored MPC solution that addresses your plant's specific needs and hurdles.
  • Data gathering and modeling: Collect historical process data to build an accurate mathematical model of your plant, a crucial foundation for MPC's predictive capabilities.
  • Control strategy formulation: Based on the model created, develop an effective control strategy to optimize your plant's performance in accordance with your objectives.
  • Software integration: Seamlessly integrate the MPC software with your current control system, ensuring all necessary interfaces and communication protocols are in place.

Step 6: Test and Commission the MPC System

Before rolling out the MPC solution for real-world use, it's crucial to thoroughly test and commission it to guarantee its effectiveness and dependability. This stage includes three different types of tests and training: simulation, closed loop, and operator training. You’ll use a simulated environment to find possible issues and adjust. In addition, your staff will need to be trained in using the MPC solution.

Step 7: Monitor and Optimize MPC Performance

Once the MPC solution is up and running, keep a close eye on its performance to ensure it aligns with your goals. Evaluate its performance, comparing it to your benchmarks and the previous system. You can also use the data to see trends or other areas for optimization. While you look at the data and performance, adjust for optimal performance. Lastly, consider setting up periodic review with the vendor and plant staff to address challenges.

MPC brings significant benefits to F&B operations. It helps optimize processes, adapt to changes, and anticipate problems. This is vital in an industry where quality, efficiency, and reducing waste are essential. MPC uses data and intelligent strategies to adjust to changing ingredients or client demands. It helps catch problems early and keeps everything running smoothly. Overall, using MPC can boost profits and sustainability and make businesses more competitive in the long run.

This article was initially published in Control Engineering.