At Hill Country Bakery, production processes and monitoring is a major priority to ensure product quality. The company is proactive in investing in technology and automation to meet its quality goals. Hill Country Bakery’s commitment to producing the highest quality baked goods has earned the company its coveted SQF2000 level 2 Certification.
Achieving Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 2 Certification requires establishment of a Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety plan that is benchmarked by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Preventing potential problems from occurring is the paramount goal underlying a solid HACCP plan. Companies reaching this level of certification must pass SQF audits and continuously show improvement of rigorous and credible food safety management systems.
A key part of every successful food manufacturer’s safety program involves refrigeration of ingredients and finished products. Temperatures need to be monitored and kept within a narrow range to ensure product quality and safety. Hill Country Bakery was not satisfied with its temperature monitoring system for its 55,000 square foot cold storage distribution center located in San Antonio, Texas for a number of reasons.
The distribution center stores both ingredients for manufacturing and finished products for distribution to retailers and food service distributors. The bakery relies on temperature monitoring and logs to ensure the highest standard of product quality for customers and to meet SQF monitoring and reporting requirements.
The distribution center had multiple refrigeration zones with hard-wired temperature probes to collect and monitor temperature data. The problem was the connecting wires were prone to damage by forklift trucks which could temporarily interrupt the continuous collection of data. In addition, the method for data collection was inefficient, temperature readings had to be manually logged into a database for reporting; a time consuming task with inherent risk of human error.
Hill Country Bakery hired Patti Engineering to assist with the engineering, design, and implementation of a more advanced and automated temperature monitoring system. “We had a huge gap that needed to be filled before our SQF level 2 audit. The continual degradation of our previous monitoring system continued to put us in a bind. There were gaps in data as well as no tracking of corrective actions in the event that a temperature issue was found,” explains Nick Rendon, maintenance manager for Hill Country Bakery. “We approached Patti Engineering with our desires for a reliable system as well as a system to resolve some of the issues that we had seen with the antiquated system. Their solution was a cost effective, reliable, wireless solution that would address all our needs and satisfy the requirements for SQF. They worked expeditiously to successfully delivery our system in time for our audit.”
Patti Engineering’s solution included elimination of hard-wired temperature sensors, and the addition of a powerful supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) for automated data collection and real-time monitoring. The ability for remote monitoring and alarm notification via mobile devices such as smartphones completed the plan for improvements.
Freshloc wireless temperature sensors were provided by Patti Engineering to eliminate the recurring problems associated with damage prone hard-wired sensors. InduSoft Web Studio was chosen for development of the human machine interface and SCADA because of its open platform, large library of drivers, and flexibility for customization.
Patti Engineering’s team customized Indusoft Web Studio to meet Hill Country Bakery’s specific needs. Real-time monitoring of all temperature zones can now be viewed from the SCADA at the plant or remotely on a mobile device. Immediate notifications of alarms are sent via email when a temperature issue arises to prevent compromised quality and/or safety problems. Manually generated logs were eliminated. All data collection for temperature zones and alarms are automated and recorded into an SQL database. Temperature and alarm reports can be generated from this database quickly and easily for any specified period of time.