Baker Perkins to enhance machinery ranges with industry 4.0 systems

Equipment and systems group Baker Perkins has moved to enhance its machinery ranges through ensuring its latest ranges are Industry 4.0 ready according to the UK-based business, writes Neill Barston.

The company’s latest technology investment comes as a deal to acquire the company by German-based Schenck Process Group (SPG), has been completed.

According to the British firm’s new owners, the food sector had been identified as an important area for future development in its activities, with Baker Perkins ranges, which include many systems for confectionery and bakery, complimenting its own existing ingredient and weighing lines.

Under the terms of the deal, Baker Perkins will retain its branding, with SPG enabling enhanced distribution and service as well as a new product range to support future growth, while the company confirmed that it remained committed to existing facilities in Peterborough (below) and Grand Rapids, Michigan in the US. Consequently, it has been confirmed that the business will continue to be run by existing management teams in the UK and USA as part of the SPG regional business structure.

In terms of its how its technology development will be applied, Baker Perkins explained that through using Industry 4.0 principles, harnessed data from its machinery ranges, devices and sensors in any manufacturing operation and enables them to communicate with each other via the Internet to enhance production operations.

Significantly, the company said that its policy is to now provide all machines ‘Industry 4.0 Ready’ to a level that allows interconnection with other systems via the Internet. The key unit is an eWON Flexy Gateway – a modular router and data gateway allowing linkage to remote devices with benefits based around data acquisition, handling and transmission.

Furthermore, all systems will now sample and upload all data from the process equipment to a secure cloud or server, where it will be available to facilitate improved decision making. The major advantage with simpler control systems is that analysis is being carried out on the process as a whole, rather than discrete sections. Real time OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), trending and basic maintenance are all included.

Among the innovative features being rolled-out is a machine centre-lining system allowing operating parameters to be compared with previous settings, and alerting supervisors to potential problems caused either by operator changes or impending equipment failure.

In addition, the next step in the development of Industry 4.0 will allow Baker Perkins to predict when key components need replacement. Intelligent analysis of process performance and machine condition will enable timely advice to be provided on potential machine problems or service and parts requirements, before they cause costly downtime.

Performance optimisation based on comparisons with similar machines will also be possible. The eWON Flexy modular router and data gateway has been used for some time by Baker Perkins to dial into customer’s control systems anywhere in the world when they call for remote support. It has also been used in the remote commissioning from the UK of a new extruder in India.

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