Appetite for perfect processes

How companies in the food industry are mastering the challenges of the future with customised processes and optimised process engineering solutions.

The food industry is undergoing changes. It is not only social trends that are increasingly affecting consumption and raising consumer expectations. Companies are also under pressure to produce more sustainably and cut down on their footprint from an environmental perspective. At the same time, growing variant diversity and individualisation require a high degree of flexibility in production. “All of this has a fundamental impact on many manufacturing processes and procedures,” said our colleague Stefan Hitz, Head of Industrial Automation. “Without the necessary expertise, it is not possible to keep up with the competition.”

We at SCHULZ Systemtechnik have been active in numerous areas of the food and beverage industry for decades. from dairies and coffee roasters or the delicatessen and beverage industry through to meat and fish processing industries or potato product production. “We know what drives the food and beverage market and supply customised automation solutions for production,” explained the sales engineer.

New challenges for the market

However, in the age of digitalisation and energy conversion, automation technology requirements are becoming increasingly challenging. Industry representatives need to address a wide array of issues. Especially when it also comes to process engineering and plant construction. “In order to get the most out of this for our customers, we have been working outstandingly well with Wellmann Anlagenbau from Halle in Westphalia for some time now,” said Hitz. Our partner is known for pioneering technologies in engineering production processes, in particular for the complete construction of systems used for the production, processing and storage of liquid and viscous foodstuffs. Wellmann boasts an excellent reputation throughout the industry. “The first points of contact between us and the East Westphalian company were made during the construction of a fermentation plant for food production and the accomplishment of automation tasks for a rapeseed oil plant,” explained Stefan Hitz. “Our collaboration is going brilliantly,” confirmed Managing Director Gerhard Wellmann. “So good that SCHULZ Systemtechnik acquired a stake in our company at the end of last year. Together, we want to implement many more projects and make processes in the food industry simpler and more efficient for users.”

Services from A to Z

Our partnership with the process specialists completes our range of services for the staple and luxury food industry. There are countless products and processing options within the staple and luxury food sector and its many sub-segments. Thanks to the strategic partnership between SCHULZ and Wellmann, customers can benefit not only from customised automation solutions, but also from precisely tailored plant construction, which are flexibly made-to-measure to bespoke product design. The focus here is on technical and engineering processes. “Because only those who master them can develop utmost efficiency,” explained Gerhard Wellmann. Our solutions include the entire value chain. From delivery through to all processing steps up to storage and dispatch. From energy optimisation to digitalisation. “And precisely because we are knowledgeable about all three fields of automation technology – electrical engineering, mechanics and IT – our customers can benefit from turnkey complete solutions, all from a single source,” added Stefan Hitz.

Our Polish colleagues at SCHULZ Infoprod also have extensive expertise in this sector – especially in the dairy industry. They have been automating manufacturing systems for dairies for more than 15 years. Not only do they develop intelligent programs to precisely monitor the numerous process steps, but they are sought after when it comes to customised requirements and special solutions. “We also specialise in the automation and integration of CIP, SIP and WIP cleaning systems, which are extremely popular across the industry,” said Mariusz Ziombek, Managing Director at our branch in Poland. The construction of these systems, including piping installation, is one of Wellmann’s core competences. “Thanks to our collaboration, everything fits together perfectly, with our customers gaining utmost efficiency.”

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Special requirements of the industry

Precise system control is indeed essential. After all, we are talking about food here. “There are a large number of legal regulations concerning food safety and hygiene,” explained the three automation experts. In addition, manufacturers must be able to guarantee complete traceability of all process steps at all times – throughout the entire supply chain. None of this is a problem for productionstar®; as a matter of fact, our in-house MES and process control system enables thorough digitalisation of production. It monitors all processes down to the last detail in an extremely convenient way. Every step, no matter how small, is recorded. All relevant information is provided at the push of a button. Whether backwards (tracking) or forwards (tracing), the productionstar® clearly lists all material movements and processes while making them available in the format required by the authorities. In addition to the productionstar®, we also have other standard systems in our portfolio. We are certified for Wonderware/AVEVA, Rockwell and Siemens products and are often consulted by developers themselves for integration tasks.

Our customised CIP cleaning systems ensure the safe removal of residues by thoroughly rinsing all system components and lines. Mostly featuring a fully automatic design, they feature fixed cleaning programs and variably adjustable temperatures.

Here too, every step of the process is correct: Sauces from the filling station on their way to automatic labelling and subsequent packaging.

Sustainable and efficient production

The implementation of energy transition is a preeminent subject for many food manufacturers. After all, a lot of electricity and heat is needed to produce food. With our holistic approach, we go hand in hand with our customers on their path to climate neutrality. from power generation through to renewable energies, energy optimisation in production processes and the recovery of process heat. From setting up charging infrastructures for company fleets to intelligent storage technologies – always aiming at reducing overall energy consumption.

Trends determine production

“If you want to produce food, you need to be flexible,” explained Stefan Hitz. Around 40,000 new edible products come onto the market every year. Only a good 13,000 of these products can survive for two years or longer. The rest gives way to new trends. That is why production technology must also be agile. This is the only way for manufacturing companies to be future-proof. At SCHULZ, together with Wellmann Anlagentechnik, we have the necessary expertise and experience for effective production processes fulfilling the growing expectations of consumers.

“The shift in society towards a vegetarian or vegan diet is no longer just a trend, but rather a fundamental change,” noticed our colleague. Along these lines, several companies are therefore planning to expand or even rearrange production. Wellmann also has a wealth of expertise in technical engineering processes in this segment. Regardless of whether it is the production of vegan milk alternatives or dairy products such as yoghurt or cheese.

Solutions for the brewing industry: We have knowledge of all industry requirements and develop and implement brewery concepts, from plant technology to piping installation and the construction of tank farms.

Individualisation and customisation

The need for customisation and individualisation has long been evident in food too. Many consumers want foodstuffs with a personal touch. “In the age of digital change and end-to-end networking, this is no longer a future scenario,” said Hitz, “and has long been part of everyday life for us as a versatile automation company.”

Into the future with pioneering solutions

There is a lot of action going on in the food industry. Food is not only used for nutrition, but is also increasingly interpreted in an ideological perspective. Many people currently define themselves by their eating habits. Trend-oriented, personalised, sustainable, health-promoting and enjoyment-oriented. This is only possible thanks to intelligent automation technology.

Our services for the staple and luxury food industry

And precisely because we are knowledgeable about all three fields of automation technology, our customers can benefit from turnkey complete solutions.

Stefan Hitz, Head of Industrial Automation Department

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