CORDIS - Forschungsergebnisse der EU

Inline real-time 4.0 quality monitoring in food production

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Food Monitor (Inline real-time 4.0 quality monitoring in food production)

Berichtszeitraum: 2020-08-01 bis 2021-07-31

The main problem addressed in the project is the development of a small series, inline analytical device, able to analyze food products (e.g. potatoes, nuts, meat) regarding their chemical and optical composition. The device should be a tradeoff between measurement accuracy, price and robustness. The used technology should be state of the art and selected appropriate for the measurement task. The developed prototype, already tested at several customers, confirmed us the maturity of the device. However, new requirements have come up for future developments.
The importance for the society concerns the food safety and the food quality of the processed products. Final aim of the Food Analyzer is finding contaminations or fraud in food. Additionally, bad food quality is detected and food streams in processing are early separated to avoid food waste. Another aspect is the optimal control of the food processing to reduce waste of energy or water. Product tests performed on the testbed in the context of our field test convinced us to reach the demands.
The overall objective was the development of an inline analysing device called Food Analyzer, which provides in an economical way the customer with the needed food safety and ensures the proposed food quality. This device is capable to transfer the needed food data to the process control and the quality department to process the food in an optimal way and enables the producer to provide the products in the needed quality.
Following section summarizes work done. It is structured, regarding the planned work packages and describes work content and results.
WP1, the software development, started with the fact that the software for the existing Sherlock Food Analyzer (SFA) was not very specific and not structured in a future open way. Therefore big efforts were taken to setup a new open architecture, to refactor the existing software and to branch the Food Analyzer software from the sorter versions. After testing of different cameras and hardware parts, the software was able to communicate with the new tested and selected sensors in real-time. The Communication was enhanced with the implementation of an OPC UA server for transferring data in a standardized way. By means of an OPC UA Rooter, we managed to transfer our data to a lot of data end points (e.g. customer data base).
WP2, system integration, was intended to update the hardware (sensors, mechanics, and electrical equipment) of the current Sherlock Food Analyzer. Hyperspectral- and rgb- camera tests were done and the best solutions were selected (EQ32, FX17, JAI-prism). Regarding the digital communication between analyzing PC and different types of PLC we selected the appropriate types (Siemens S7, Alan Bradley) to be integrated in our software. By means of a cloud solution, provided by SECOMEA, we were able to overcome the IT-security issues for remote maintenance and data acquisition.
We implemented a testbed at the beginning of the project. Since that time we used it successfully for testing of the cameras, illumination and modelling of different food products. These tests improved our model data base and our knowledge regarding false color hyperspectral- and rgb-modelling.
The design, assembly and test of a new SFA prototype were the main contents of the second project year. So we reached the final approval and performed field tests at three different customer sites. These test yields several points of improvements and requirements for future customer projects.
WP3 was intended to prepare for market entry for our SFA. Content was the training our sales teams, the creation of manuals and documentations and the improved of our Enterprise Resource Planner (ERP) for the manufacturing our system. Additional work was done in order to reach the necessary compliance for our device.
In various sales meetings we informed our sales stuff about features and roadmap of the SFA. Service procedures in several contexts (Inspection, remote support training, and repair work) were defined and implemented in the internal processes of Insort. Our ERP system is ready to deal with all the SFA issues. In order to provide the customer with an appropriate documentation we created user manual and standard operation procedure (SOP) documentation. The sales team is supported with product flyers, showing the main features of the device.
Certification of the SFA device was performed successfully ( “CE” and “UL-ready”, “EMC”) . Safety (FMEA) relevant tests to guarantee the compliance of the device were done.
WP4 was intended on the one hand to get necessary information at conference visits for the project work. On the other hand, we planned conference visits to introduce the Sherlock Food Analyzer (SFA) to an interested auditorium. Customer visits were done to introduce the customer the ideas for the Food Monitor project and to get back requirements. Based on a market research an IP strategy was set up to ensure, that the design will be the right one.
Four conferences and four fairs were attended. In addition, we performed about 200 customer visits during the project to demonstrate the SFA. Another field of interest we focused on was the line integrator and solution supplier market where we got in contact with potential customers. (e.g. Kiremko, Qcify). Field tests of the final prototype were done at the customers: Farm Frites, Mydibel, Lamb Weston Austria.
To avoid problems on the market with our competitors regarding IP rights, we made a market research and defined the IP strategy. The outcome was the fact, that freedom of operate for the used device and method is available. Additionally, we applied for the trademark registration: “Insort” and “Sherlock”
WP5 was intended to organize resource and time planning. Communication was assured due to meetings. Development in general was done according our R&D and Quality-Process, introduced during this project. A big impact to the project was brought with the COVID19 crisis causing delays, however the use of the internal tools and applied contingency plans the project was properly managed.
In general Food Monitor project was successful. There are only slight deviation due to delays and some technical issues, found at the field tests. However, SFA prototype is available for in house and customer test. We are now able to use this prototype as a blue print to start small series production. The official product launch is planned in November 2021 at Interpom21 Fair.
Based on the original Sherlock Food Analyzer prototype, the company made a look at the closet market to be able to achieve the current version of the Sherlock Food Monitor by implementing the best technical solutions available and to develop from the prototype to a series machine.
Due to several marketing activities we gain a new market opportunity in the tobacco industry with one of the big players in this field. Offers for three devices are sent out. Besides this, offers for the originally addressed customers (potatoes, nuts, meat) were made with the opportunity of additional 3 machines in 2021.
As a result of the COVID19 crisis, we had a restructuring in the workforce in the project. We hired a Quality-Manager, a Marketing Specialist and installed a Human Resources Manager to improve our internal processes. Additionally we introduced a R&D- and Quality-Process with several new activities e.g. FMEA, Risk-Analysis meeting, Standardization meetings).