APC Technology provides computing solutions for tough conditions across a diverse range of industries including Food & Pharmaceutical. With a large client base in food processing, APC Technology has developed an extensive understanding of the industry, whether it is on a farm, in a factory or at an abattoir.
Within the food & beverage a diverse range of challenges exist which also vary in importance dependent on the environment. However a number of generic issues are industry wide including Occupational Health & Safety, cross contamination and production downtime. APC Technology reviews some of these key challenges including the question of quality versus cost and provides details on solutions available to benefit a business in Food Processing,.
Inevitably in work places equipment can be damaged or broken due to human error or mis-use. For example when a worker is updating information on a screen they may use an object instead of a gloved or bare hand. APC Technology manufacture an extensive range of displays or panel PCs which are certified to withstand extreme use. They incorporate a shatterproof display ensuring the highest durability levels and if the circumstance arises when it is broken the contaminants are isolated.
F&B processing plants commonly use one assembly line to produce multiple products. For example a confectionary plant could produce one product with nuts then alternate to a nut-free product in the same location. Decontamination of the equipment is critical requiring the use of cleaning agents and high pressure equipment. Panel PCs and displays typically adopt a 2 part manufacturing system which results in an increase in collection points for contaminates. APC Technology has designed a stream line system eliminating this issue and ensuring increased food safety levels.
In recent years commercial computer equipment has begun to be marketed as a potential solution for industrial locations including F&B but the fact is it is not designed for the continuous rigor of these environments; for example the level of shock and vibration is significantly higher and sustained over longer periods in a processing plant. We have seen a number of clients invest in commercial solutions only to experience a higher failure rates. APC Technology recently worked with a company in this situation who wanted to establish the root of the problem. Through the use of our in-house testing, the equipment was analysed and the failure identified; vibration levels were causing a number of components to become disconnected. New measures were introduced to ensure internal parts such as the heatsink and connectors remained in place resolving the equipment failure. Inevitably the cost savings made on the initial capital purchase was lost through the need to modify the equipment.
Equipment Built to Work in the Field
Whilst an F&B processing plant meets the highest food hygiene standards, food extracted at the source comes from a much dirtier environment. APC Technology has worked pro-actively within the dairy industry to establish a thorough understanding of the challenges faced. For example wash down is achieved with extremely hot, high pressured water jets so the electronic equipment has to be able to handle the same cleaning process as the rest of the environment including high water temperatures. APC Technology has designed displays & panel PCs which include dual sealing on the front and back panels plus the addition of a specially formulated adhesive to ensure condensation cannot occur on the LCD surface.
Any outdoor environment has the added element of dirt and dust elements which can contaminate unsealed electronic equipment resulting in failure. APC Technology ensures all equipment is certified to an IP (ingress protection) rating of 65 or higher resulting in a completely sealed unit.
The challenge for F&B companies continues to be the provision of consumables at a competitive price whilst maximising margins and maintaining the highest food safety levels. Therefore cost cutting measures are found in all business areas including capital investment. However, the perceived short term return on buying inferior equipment can become a more costly long term one. Solutions designed for harsh environments are more expensive than commercial equipment but the return on investment out ways the cheaper option. The previous example of a commercial PC being used in an assembly line clearly demonstrates the impact on a business:-
- The initial capital cost gain is lost because the equipment inevitably needed replacing or modified to fit the purpose
- Cost of the technical person to repair it on site
- Cost of production downtime during repairs
- Potentially diminished brand value of the product
Work related Injuries and illnesses
The impact of lost-workday incidences (LWDI) significantly affects the efficiencies of a Food and Beverage (F&B) processing plant. Equipment used on site must meet safety levels to operate yet its ergonomic design can be neglected even though extensive studies* show it can adversely impact workers. One of the most common health complaints within an F&B processing environment is musculoskeletal disorders. Common disorders include tendinitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome and sciatica. Studies conclude continual manual tasks inevitably impact a person but introducing a combination of innovations including the use of ergonomically enhanced equipment can reduce the impact. APC Technology offers customised solutions enabling the design of equipment to provide the highest levels of production, safety and comfort. Examples include rubberised keyboards designed to reduce carpel tunnel syndrome or customised mounting systems allowing a display to be moved up and down to accommodate workers’ varying heights.
The APC Technology Difference
APC Technology has over 30 years’ experience of innovating, designing and manufacturing customised solutions for harsh environments. We offer additional benefits providing valuable return on investment:-
Professional: APC Technology Consultants listen to a client’s requirements but also take the time to understand the business and objectives, providing guidance on the ideal solution. Whether it is an off the shelf product, modified or fully customised, APC Technology can ensure the end result fits the requirements.
Turnkey solutions: APC Technology supplies solutions not just products. For example a display may require connectivity with other terminals/server across an area with poor reception or connectors may vary between different factory locations so require a solution which can be used in any facility. APC Technology understands these issues and can create a solution to fit the client’s requirements.
Full manufacturer’s warranty: APC Technology designs and manufactures a majority of our product ranges providing further assurance that a client will be fully supported.
Client responsive: APC Technology has the ability to manage small batch requirements, provide Australia wide field support, and test products in-house.
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