Digitalization of the Process Industry

The production of food, cosmetics, or pharmaceutical products is anything but a piece of cake. Customers and legal requirements alike place the highest demands on the purity, safety, and traceability of raw materials. To ensure that requirements are fulfilled, manufacturing processes must be validated. Consequently, it is almost impossible to remain competitive without systematic digitalization of production. What exactly is required here?

Typical sectors of the process industry include the manufacture of food and flavorings, the production of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, as well as fine chemicals. In these sectors, it is essential to mix the exact quantity of raw materials and, by means of further processing steps, to manufacture a product that meets all requirements. For most products, the focus is on the safety of people who use or consume the end product. The wrong ingredient or incorrect dosage can have devastating consequences. The utmost care must also be taken when mixing chemical substances to ensure the safety of production employees.

But safety is not the only priority. Due to global competition, the process industry is also driven by efficiency and the economical use of resources. This includes energy and raw materials as well as intermediate products, auxiliary materials, machines, and equipment. Such resources generate costs that affect the selling price of the products and impact the potential profit margin. Before mixing raw materials, it is key to verify that the right components are used to avoid rejects and waste. After all, in most cases it is not possible to separate substances once they have been mixed.

Regulatory requirements

Furthermore, there are laws and regulatory requirements that define how something is manufactured and what must be observed or documented. Traceability of consumed raw materials and resources plays a decisive role in the pharmaceutical industry and also in food production. Specifications not only guarantee the quality of the products, but also ensure that appropriate measures are taken in the event of a deviation. If, for example, a prohibited ingredient is discovered in a food product, it must be possible to identify as quickly and reliably as possible which other products are affected. The further you can narrow down the affected products, the lower the costs for a recall campaign and the lower the risk for consumers.

In a nutshell, the process industry focuses on two issues: safety and competitiveness.

Meeting requirements through digitalization

Companies need suitable tools in production to meet the requirements. However, some companies are still trying to meet the demands by using paper documents and self-developed solutions. This is neither economical nor expedient but carries a substantial risk of error. A Manufacturing Execution System (MES) provides the solution to all such challenges. The software can be used to monitor, control, and optimize almost all production processes. For example, the MES shows the production employee during weighing how much of a certain raw material they should fill into the container on the scale. Before weighing, the material can be identified via bar code scanner to ensure that the correct material is used. In the workflow, process values are recorded and evaluated for quality assurance. Monitoring processes run in parallel and remind employees that inspections or cleaning work is due. Simply put, an MES stays on top of things and guarantees order and safety in production – ideally paperless.

Digitalizing the process industry with MES HYDRA X

The FELTEN Group offers an innovative software solution for the process industry: MES HYDRA X. The highly flexible system supports all processes in the value chain from the provision of raw materials to the packaging of finished products. The provided features even include support processes such as setup of machines, cleaning processes, and intralogistics. HYDRA X offers custom applications for weighing, dosing, and mixing processes as well as solutions for recipe management and monitoring regular activities. Operator-guided processes enable employees to efficiently control and monitor the different steps of a production process. Support for order control ensures optimum planning and execution of production orders. Provisioning, cleaning, and setup processes are also seamlessly integrated into the workflow. Digital checklists support process management and offer considerable advantages compared to conventional paper checklists. Recorded data is stored centrally and can be accessed at any time and from anywhere. Tedious delays between completing the checklist and filing it in the right folder are eliminated, as digital checklists can always be retrieved at the right time and in the right place. Thanks to consistent digitalization, all recorded information is available directly and in clear form, which avoids errors caused by illegible handwriting.

One MES for the entire manufacturing process

Naturally, there are other manufacturing execution systems besides MES HYDRA X. However, HYDRA X offers an advantage that no other market competitor can provide: HYDRA X not only serves the process industry but is also at home in discrete manufacturing. The functional HYDRA X mApps from FELTEN offer custom solutions for production landscapes with multiple processes. Global KPI systems for all processes can provide even more transparency in production. At the same time, interfaces and costs of necessary validations are reduced. The version of HYDRA X from MPDV has also been used for years in the manufacturing industry, which includes plastics and metal processors, automotive suppliers, paper and wood processing, and beverage bottling. Packaging manufacturers also use the flexible MES from MPDV. The FELTEN Group is a member of the MPDV Group, which means that both companies benefit from each other’s expertise.

Future-proof manufacturing IT

HYDRA X is one element of the portfolio offered by the MPDV Group. Its big advantage is that it is based on the MIP integration platform from MPDV. The Manufacturing Integration Platform (MIP) makes it easy for applications from different providers to interoperate with each other. A common database enables all information to be used flexibly and yet be interpreted correctly by every application. In addition to MES HYDRA X, the FELTEN Group also offers a planning solution based on the MIP. The Advanced Planning and Scheduling System (APS) FEDRA plans production orders of all kinds and guarantees optimum utilization of all resources. In conclusion, the solutions from FELTEN and MPDV promote the competitiveness of companies in the process industry.

Author: FELTEN GmbH

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