Sani-Matic wanted to modernize clean-in-place (CIP) and clean-out-of-place (COP) processes by automating the reporting of cleaning systems and introduced SaniTrend Cloud software as a service (SaaS). The software is designed to help the food and beverage and other industries move from a largely manual paper-based data collection process to one that allows customers to capture cleaning cycle data and quickly generate the reports and alerts needed to meet legal requirements, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
To achieve this, Sani-Matic partnered with Rockwell Automation and PTC’s ThingWorx to develop a cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) software solution that allows customers to automatically generate cleaning cycle reports and analyze operational data. This allows manufacturers to more effectively troubleshoot problems, analyze the overall effectiveness of the cleaning cycle (OEE) over time, and understand how the system works.
SaniTrend Cloud is available with every new PLC-controlled, automated cleaning system from Sani-Matic. It can also be retrofitted with any existing Sani-Matic automated cleaning system with an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix or higher PLC processor. Peter Barrie, director of product management for Sani-Matic, explains how the software works and why it is needed in the food and beverage industry.
PFW: Tell me about Sani-Matic’s partnership with Rockwell Automation and PTC. How did you end up developing SaniTrend Cloud?
barrie: This was early 2019. For us, even further back in 2018, we started looking at IoT solutions in general. We build automated CIP, or clean-in-place, and COP, or clean-out-of-place, systems for the food, beverage, personal care, nutraceutical, biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical industries. In all those industries, there are legal requirements to establish that the equipment has been properly cleaned — not just that we did this cleaning, but we did it at these temperatures and chemical concentrations, and stuff like that.
With current methods it’s often manual, sometimes it’s someone walking around with a clipboard. Paper chart recorders record temperature activity on these paper charts, but they are super hard to interpret. They require paper storage and are not a super efficient method.
IoT stuff started to evolve and we’ve been looking for solutions for that. In 2018, we looked at a number of different solutions. In early 2019 we were also on our way to and are now at the Gold OEM Partner level with Rockwell. So at that time we shared strategies and product development stuff. And one of them was this cloud-based product. That was exactly when they developed their relationship with PTC and developed the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite product line. We had some discovery sessions, and they brought in some technical people and did some demos. They looked good and looked like something we could work on.
We’re a manufacturing company – we have a lot of custom engineering and automation, but we’re not going to build ISO certified data security centers and stuff like that from the ground up. We knew we had to partner with someone, and with Rockwell and the PTC relationship, they bring all the data security, network structure and knowledge of IoT solutions.
PFW: Tell me more about the need for something like SaniTrend Cloud in the food and beverage industry.
barrie: The product does two things for customers. In 2018, when we started looking at this, the main thing was that there was a legal need for it. When our sales team talks to our customers about this product, that’s the thing that lights up the lamp in their mind, like maybe this cloud solution is a viable option. And the other solution it offers is efficiency gain. This can be from the system itself, but especially from the operators who use the system.
We calculate OEE, the overall effectiveness of equipment. That’s traditional on the production equipment, but we said, ‘Hey, why can’t we apply it to our cleaning cycles. Let’s take those OEE parameters – availability, performance, quality – and apply them to our cleaning cycles.”
That allows us to monitor and optimize these over time, as well as operational user efficiency items such as text and email notifications. On a clean cycle, there are quality people who need to look at that data before releasing it back into production. If they can get an email after a cycle is complete, and they can go in there to check that data and give it their approval or comment on it in the portal, then everything just got more efficient. Right now they have to walk to the factory floor, check that paper file, take it to someone else and all that kind of fun stuff.
PFW: You mentioned the paper maps. Explain the drawbacks of using this traditional cleaning cycle tracking method versus the technology introduced by Sani-Matic.
barrie: Interact with that [paper charts] is very inefficient. Often you can run a lot of different CIP cycles over the course of a 12 or 24 hour period. When you look at that, it’s hard to really interpret – was this good or not?
On the other hand, our product is very interactive. You can click on it, you can zoom in on it, you can view it very easily, you can export it and get the raw values in a table in Excel format if you want. It brings each of those clean cycles into a report. You can see all temperatures and all conductivity.
You can access the portal on a phone, tablet, desktop… It allows a quality person who works in the office, not in the production room, or someone remotely, to easily grab that stuff instead of a paper state of service. There is a lot of paper handling that can be avoided.
PFW: Are there other digital solutions that manufacturers are already using?
barrie: In the past 10 years, companies have started building their own reporting functions. Often they communicate with other factory equipment and can be linked to a factory historian or a custom data recording platform. That is a step in the right direction. The issues we’ve seen are that whether it’s a software company or a third-party integrator, they might be able to grab a few data points. But we built the solution that will grab all your data.
I’ve seen situations where people try to develop their own custom solution, and it just failed. And they have to go back to paper chart recorders or something like that. When you can easily get something from an OEM that does this every day, we think we can provide much more value from it.
PFW: Explain more about how SaniTrend Cloud works.
barrie: Our systems are automated CIP and COP systems and are equipped with a PLC and an HMI and the SaniTrend Cloud products. We add the industrial edge device to that panel and that edge device basically takes all that data. There is of course an internet connection; we can do that with Ethernet or Wi-Fi – then send the data to the cloud, where it’s securely placed in a portal, where the company can then log in and view that data.
There are also live dashboards. So, with almost no lag, you can stand next to your CIP system, and on your phone, open the dashboard and basically see tank levels and flow rates and all that sort of thing, almost live.
For the cycle reports, if I do a two hour wash cycle, after that’s done, that’s all wrapped up and in about a minute that data is then in the cloud for viewing. There are two data areas. You do a lot of live dashboard stuff so you can see things in the blink of an eye. But then each of those cleaning cycle reports is packed about a minute later. A quality person can subscribe to an alert where he sees that this CIP cycle has just completed, he can log in, view that data and add comments to it.
Operators can add comments in the same way. If there were alarms on the system, the QC would see it, and maybe an operator would like to explain what that alarm was. That hub is where the data is stored and where the users — whether operator, supervisor, quality or sanitation crew — that’s where they go in and interact with that data.
PFW: What are examples of the types of reports customers are interested in?
barrie: We grab all the crucial data about the cleaning cycle, but we also grab events like alarms, or operators pressing start and stop and aborting and things like that. A lot of these cleaning services are at night, so one person said, ‘I see this person did this instead of this’, so it’s a training opportunity. With a paper chart recorder it is not even a question that data is not grabbed.
For example, as a diagnostic aid, you can give an instrument air pressure alarm at 3 a.m. every day. I can investigate the cause of the alarm with my team at the factory. Maybe we shut off the instrument air for maintenance. Or maybe we should figure out how to fix that. Everything that happens to the system, we track and log in so that they can use the software not only as a prerequisite for the required cleaning cycle data, but also as a problem solver for the actual system and training for operators. If an operator presses start and abort, you should be able to see that. A record is kept of which operator was logged in at that time. Countless customers have seen value in that. It’s an opportunity to know what’s going on and then teach people what not to do or what to do instead.
PFW: Are there any plans for upgrades to SaniTrend in the future?
barrie: We start by developing a system performance report. Users are going to use this platform differently. Some people may be handling it in a hands-off way – my clean cycle data is there for legal requirements, but I’m not going to take the time to dig through my logs and see how operators are using it. Sani-Matic provides proactive system operational reports so that maybe every six months or a year we can take a deep dive into what their system has been up to, looking for recurring alarms or OEE scores. We can summarize how their system is doing with some recommendations.
Within each of these systems is a storage space for documentation in the central cloud software. We preload frequently requested documents that are often forgotten or lost, such as spare parts lists and electrical drawings. They can also keep the manual in the central area for the service engineer to get to two years later.
We also make how-to videos on how to replace or do that. We can automatically push product-specific videos to the customer.