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Cross-functional process technology at drinktec: Standardized process modules are gaining ground

Modular production increases efficiency

Worldwide in the production of beverages and liquid foods the demands of quality management and documentation are constantly rising, GMP being a key watchword here. Against this background, modular design of equipment and systems is becoming ever more important. Especially in areas that span a range of industries and applications – such as filtration, heating and cleaning – standardized process modules bring significant technical and economic benefits. As a result, these will be at the heart of many presentations at drinktec 2013 between September 16 and 20 in Munich. One focus is in Halls A3 and A4, where cross-industry process technology is gathered together.

GMP, short for "good manufacturing practice", is a comprehensive quality assurance system that is gaining ground around the world. Just how it works is described by Heinz-Jьrgen Kroner, Managing Director of the drinktec exhibitor Pentair Sьdmo: "For us system designers, GMP basically presents two challenges: Firstly, as the competitive environment gets ever tougher, investment and operating costs should be as low as possible. Secondly, the input required for quality, performance, safety and documentation is constantly rising. The automobile industry is showing how to master this twin challenge. They build a wide range of models and brands on one standardized vehicle platform. The manufacturer is therefore deliberately moving away from individual production to a module-based system. This trend will be evident in many areas at the next drinktec."

Big advantages in production and qualification
In the production of equipment and manufacturing systems for the beverage and food industry, standardization extends to the areas of quotation processing, engineering, construction, assembly and automation, as well as purchasing and supplies of components. Savings of around 15 percent can be achieved along the whole value-added chain through in-company repetition and scale economies. According to GMP, the parameters relevant to process and production technology not only have to be achieved, they also have to be certified and documented. In this task, too, standardization is a great benefit: The necessary documents can then be generated quickly and with minimum efforts in a pre-defined procedure. Experience has shown that without a modular system, often 10 to 20 percent of the investment costs go on GMP qualification alone.

Skid modules enable individual adaptation
The basis for any standardized process component is a frame-mounted module, or skid. On this stainless-steel frame the system components are pre-mounted mechanically and electrically, and already function-tested before delivery. In parallel with this the system manufacturer carries out the qualification required by GMP, including documentation. Skid design lends itself of course well to individual adaptation. This includes for example built-in measurement technology or the valves or pumps used – trade visitors to drinktec 2013 will be able to find out all about this first hand at the manufacturersґ stands.

The finished module has standard transport dimensions and is therefore ideal for delivering on a truck or in a container. Because of this extensive preparatory work at the manufacturerґs plant, the system can very quickly be commissioned at the place of application, in line with GMP requirements. Essentially only the input and output flows have to be set up and operating resources such as power and water connected up. In later operation all the components are easy to access, which simplifies all processes from visual monitoring to replacing even the tiniest components such as seals. Maintenance procedures are also correspondingly facilitated.

Large systems also benefit
Standardized process components therefore reduce costs and effort, both for the operator and for the systems manufacturer. This win-win effect makes this "platform strategy" so interesting for many process components in the brewing, beverages, dairy and food industries. These include CIP/SIP systems as well as water-processing systems, flash pasteurizers and even entire membrane beer-filtrations for breweries with an annual production of up to 1.5 million hectoliters. Larger producers also benefit from the skid idea, despite the construction limitation, because the standardized modules can be combined with each other and used either as single functional units or as a full system. The systems are then fitted together from several skid units at the point of application. Today it is possible to create entire brew-house lines or kieselgur filter cellars with considerable outputs. What else is also possible in the field of process technology worldwide using modular solutions will be on show at drinktec in Munich, from September 16 to 20, 2013.

21 Dec. 2012

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