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Hygienic panel PCs meeting food manufacturing challenges

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article image Stainless steel panel PCs feature full IP69K rated water, dust and corrosion-proof housing.

Australia’s food and beverage processing industries are worth approximately $26 billion to the economy and employ almost 235,000 people. It is a vital industry because it not only produces goods for the local market, but is also a net exporter of foodstuffs and beverages. When combined with the related industries of agriculture, forestry and fishing, the figure more than doubles to an impressive $54 billion approximately.

All food processing businesses need plant and equipment that not only do the job but are reliable and designed to suit the environments in which they operate. This includes an array of plant – from conveyor belts and packaging equipment, through to sorting and mixing machinery. Any hiccup can have catastrophic consequences. One slight mishap can cause the whole operation to close, deadlines to be missed, or food and beverage produce to spoil. It’s money down the drain. What preventative plant and maintenance managers need to have are the tools to make sure this never happens.

Human machine interfaces and panel PCs

Human Machine Interface (HMI) and panel PCs are the brains and virtual eyes and ears of any food or beverage processing plant. A panel PC is ‘smarter’ than an HMI, but both have a place in the manufacturing process depending on users’ needs. The number of devices needed depends on what needs monitoring, giving plant managers and workers feedback on how their machinery is performing. Is the production run on schedule? Are packaged products being filled to the right capacity? Is critical machinery working at its optimum performance?

HMI and panel PCs have many standard features; however, those in the food processing market need a few more due to the type of environment in which they operate. These include:

  • Rugged internal componentry: There’s nothing delicate about the food processing industry and devices get knocked around. Having robust motherboards and peripheral componentry is vital.
  • Being waterproof. This is not only because plant is cleaned daily with water and other fluid-based material. By its nature, food and beverage production usually has a liquid component. A good HMI or PC panel will also have waterproof buttons, connectors and antenna.
  • Multi-touch resistive touchscreen providing accurate touch control: This feature is sometimes overlooked, which can lead to frustration by users. They need to have an optical bonding LCD, which is ideal for moist and humid environments.
  • Meeting hygiene standards: This is self-evident for this kind of working environment, and a must-have tick when making a purchasing decision.

IP69K stainless P-Series panel PCs with waterproof conduit pipe

The IP69K stainless P-Series panel PCs with waterproof conduit pipe feature screen sizes ranging from 15” ~ 23.8”, with PCap touchscreen to ensure a user-friendly multi-touch experience and a waterproof conduit pipe for extra cable protection. This P-Series with conduit pipe is engineered to be the perfect terminal for operations in demanding environments that call for uncompromising hygiene requirements, such as in the food, chemical or pharmaceutical industries.

The IP69K P-Series panel PC consists of SUS304 stainless steel, the housing is full IP69K-rated water, dust and corrosion-proof, withstanding extensive washdowns with corrosion resistance against cleaning agents, especially against close-range high-pressure (up to 30 bar) and high temperature (up to 80°C) washdowns.

The custom-built waterproof conduit pipe is preinstalled to give an additional layer of protection for the peripheral cables connected to the device. The included air vent valve comes with an automatic mechanical system to act as a safety device that controls and maintains pressure without the user’s assistance in order to avoid air related problems.

The projective capacitive technology in the P-Series delivers excellent responsive performance, even in extreme environments, by supporting multi-touch and allowing for users to operate it easily with their fingers.

The P-Series boasts versatile mounting options, including panel, yoke and VESA mount for installation in all the industrial scenarios.

The P-Series IP69K panel PC is equipped with a high performing Intel Core i5-7200U Kaby Lake processor, meaning it can easily handle multimedia content. The wireless connectivity is not compromised thanks to the support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for real-time communications and data transfer.

Stainless B-Series panel PCs with pushbuttons

Available in sizes ranging from 10.1” to 21.5”, the stainless B-Series panel PCs with pushbuttons are designed to be factory automation control terminals that improve production efficiency in applications that call for high sanitary standards, especially in food, beverage and chemical industries.

This Windows-based HMI supports the latest Windows operating system and ships with Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2930 processor to deliver high computing performance while ensuring low power consumption.

The panel PC features SUS316 stainless steel housing to withstand harsh chemicals without corroding over time. With full IP65 water- and dust-proof compliance, the B-Series survives overall splashing conditions.

Pushbuttons bring control and indication directly to the work area, eliminating wasted movement and increasing productivity. In addition, the physical buttons provide an intuitive and quick action when it comes to critical tasks such as emergency shutdowns.

Conclusion

Monitoring plant and produce during food and beverage production is a critical component in the manufacturing process. Broken equipment, spillages and unforeseen downtime can hit the bottom line – something every business wants to avoid. A rugged device driven by quality componentry reduces the potential for unwanted emergencies.

Backplane Systems Technology’s solutions

Backplane Systems Technology is a supplier of high-integrity electronic components for data acquisition, monitoring and control systems. Two such products are the IP69K stainless P-Series panel PCs with waterproof conduit pipe, and the stainless B-Series panel PCs with pushbuttons from Winmate. Backplane has been a Winmate partner for several years and has provided many HMIs and panel PCs to the food and beverage industry in the Australian market.

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