Making Processing Plants More Sustainable though Data Analytics

Data analytics in food plants Data analytics in food plants
Barry Sperling
Global Application Expert
Feb 14, 2020

Data can help us paint a numbers-based, factual picture of the world around us. For food and beverage processors, this picture involves water, energy and chemical usage – metrics that, when in their proper context, represent measures of a plant’s sustainability. With new technologies making data more approachable and accessible, there is enormous untapped potential for food and beverage professionals to harness that data to minimize their plant’s environmental impact.

The Value of Data

After obtaining a Master’s in Organic Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I worked formulating lubricants for industrial applications for 8 years. Then, I shifted to the food industry and worked on creating antimicrobial lubricants for processing plants. Finally, I got into the cleaning space at Diversey and have been with the company for 18 years. Over this time, I’ve witnessed firsthand how an experienced, analytical team of experts can tangibly benefit food and beverage processing plants.

Because Diversey’s specialists are constantly serving customers in unique situations, coming up with solutions for new issues, they have access to a large pool of insights and ideas for other experts to draw from in serving their customers. In many cases, a plant’s staff doesn’t have the capacity to focus on using data to save water. Fortunately, our specialists use data every day to track, monitor and improve aspects of plant operations, driving financial and environmental benefits.

How Data Drives Sustainability

Across industries, innovation is driving improvements in efficiency and data analysis, and the food and beverage industry is no exception. Diversey is focused on remote data management as a company and has implemented smart solutions across various sectors in recent years.

Reflecting on how customers have taken advantage of our process and implementation over the years, I recall a beef plant that was using 50 million gallons of water per month – much of it heated. It showed how great the need is for some facilities to save water or energy, and how these savings could be realized by collecting and analyzing data. We performed an AquaCheck at this plant and helped them optimize their operation by using less hot water.

With directives coming from the top of companies to improve sustainability, plants should recognize that the cost and complexity of measuring data remotely is plummeting, and that it could help them save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. Thankfully, for a plant just beginning to use data to improve operations, there is no need to try to become experts immediately or make a large financial investment. Keep the process simple by gathering key information with the help of a trusted partner.

The best way for processing plants to make sustainability improvements is by creating a tailored program designed specifically for their facility. Our Knowledge-Based Services portfolio provides a range of data-centric approaches that can make a plant more sustainable. Here are three good examples:

  • AquaCheck. A customized service to optimize overall water utilization, measure and trace all sources of water waste and take action to reduce water usage by as much as 30% (or more in some cases). Saving water saves money and limits environmental impact.
  • CIPTEC. This service uses spectrophotometer sensors and data analysis to calculate the effectiveness of cleaning in place (CIP) systems. Sensor data is combined with additional CIP metrics such as conductivity, flow and temperature to create a full analysis of each wash cycle.
  • DryFormance. Water-free conveyor lubrication technology combines with packaging line engineering excellence to deliver water reduction while improving overall operational efficiency and helping plants to meet their sustainability goals.

A New Decade of Data

No matter the industry, tracking and properly analyzing data can undoubtedly help companies uncover areas for improvement. And as 2020 begins, the threat of climate change is increasingly shaping the daily lives of customers and the objectives of businesses around the world. Food and beverage processing plants should realize this and redouble their efforts to improve sustainability by using the power of data to drive their decisions.

About Barry

Barry Sperling is Project Manager – Water and Energy Solutions at Diversey. He has been with the company for more than 18 years and specializes in using data to discover sustainable solutions for food and beverage processors. He holds a bachelor's degree from Xavier University and a master’s from the University of Cincinnati.