May 17, 2020

ABB: Commissioning in the food industry

Brith Isaksson
Food and Beverage
Digital Twin
Brith Isaksson
3 min
Brith Isaksson explores the benefits and applications of the digital twin in the food and beverage industry.
When adding an extension to a house, an architect will often use computer assisted design (CAD) software to visualise what the extension will look like...

When adding an extension to a house, an architect will often use computer assisted design (CAD) software to visualise what the extension will look like. Similarly, commissioning a new system for a food manufacturing plant requires software assistance to plan effectively and with digital twinning, manufacturers can optimize its ongoing operations. Here, Brith Isaksson, of ABB’s food and beverage business, explains.

Planning can be time-consuming, but when adding to an existing building like a house, it could be the difference between a crumbling foundation and your dream home. To make the process smoother, architects employ specialist software that allows them to draw the designs and integrate the electrical and plumbing elements of the existing structure into the plan.

Architects can then review the plans to ensure compliance with regulations, the practicalities of the design and eliminate any potential issues. However, while CAD plans are often used for planning system installations in manufacturing plants, the software is often limited by the variables that arise during operation.

As a result, we’re seeing a shift towards virtual commissioning technology and other forms of simulation software in the industrial sector. 

Virtual commissioning allows manufacturers to build and run a new factory process line virtually, before building it in the physical world. This includes simulating an exact replica of the line with its current automation system and network in a virtual realm, which is then modified to add in any new equipment. Virtual commissioning allows plant engineers to program robots and automation systems in the virtual world. They then run virtual tests, and any discovered issues can be resolved in advance to significantly reduce costs and the system’s start-up time. 


For example, if a plant manager plans to install a new robotic cell to pick a product from a conveyor and place the product in a box at a certain rate per minute, the line can be choreographed and tested virtually. This ensures that the robot can perform the movements and required manoeuvres in conjunction with the flow of product and packaging. With a virtual process architecture, various scenarios can be run, and the automation software programmed without having to stop production on the physical line.

By using virtual commissioning, manufacturers can also eliminate operational inefficiencies in their existing lines to boost productivity. ABB’s Ability™ RobotStudio, can simulate the different processes in a food and beverage plant so that managers can identify what strategies should be revised to provide better quality and increase output.

For the ongoing support and maintenance of equipment, managers can also integrate other simulation software like digital twinning applications. A digital twin works by simulating an exact replica of an asset, subsystem or system and combines digital aspects of the equipment such as the design model with real-time aspects of how it operates and is maintained, to offer insights into the condition of equipment and the likelihood of any part failures.

While virtual commissioning creates a safe space for engineers to test and make sure the right mix of components are being used in their application, digital twinning offers managers further verification of the overall 3-D design. By using simulation software like ABB’s in the planning stages of this process, plant managers can calculate figures such as the optimum use of supply resources to meet consumption schedules, to make improvements in the whole supply chain.

The steps required to extend or adjust your factory are very similar to that of adding to your home. Disruptive delays or problems not identified in the initial stages can be costly, but with virtual commissioning, food and beverage manufacturers can review the final model before deployment to address any issues and avoid any unexpected costs.

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Jun 16, 2021

Grupo Espinosa: 70 years of constant evolution

Macmillan Education
Grupo Espinosa
3 min
A proudly Mexican company servicing the publishing industry with best-in-class printing, storage and distribution facilities in the heart of Latin America

Founded in 1952, Grupo Espinosa has been relentlessly supporting the publishing industry with producing more than 100 million copies every year – whether its books, magazines, catalogues or single-order custom prints. No project is big or small for Grupo Espinosa, as the facility can scale up on demand and their turnaround times are highly competitive. Grupo Espinosa works with on-demand digital press or offset press, in paperback with glued softcover binding, PUR softcover binding, stitched paperback binding, binder’s board, hardcover, saddle stitched, Spiral or Wire-O. Equipped with the experience needed for a product to leave the plant ready for distribution, Grupo Espinosa delivers anywhere inside or outside Mexico. Traditionally starting off as a black and white printing press, Grupo Espinosa has experienced transformation first hand – from colour to digital offset printing. Currently, Grupo Espinosa is also looking at making capital investments into audio books to match with the increasing demand. 

So how did a seemingly local operation in Latin America become a world-renowned printing facility trusted by hundreds of clients? As Rogelio Tirado, CFO of Grupo Espinosa for the last six years says “It all comes down to our market experience and our dedication to quality”. With nearly 70 years behind them, and located in Mexico City, Grupo Espinosa has two major locations – one spanning 75,000 square metres and the other about 45,000 square metres. Both locations are controlled by a single ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system ensuring speed, consistency and quality of work. Tirado says this isn’t their only competitive advantage. He adds “Our competitive advantage is the relationship we have with customers and the trust they put in us with their intellectual property”. Speaking of trust, global publishing giant Macmillan Education exclusively partners with Grupo Espinosa for their Latin America operations, as part of Macmillan’s decentralized hub strategy. Having a facility that offered the full spectrum of service – from storing digital content to printing and distributing – was one of the major requirements for Macmillan, and Grupo Espinosa was recognized as the leading printing hub for providing this 360 infrastructure. Another factor that has led to success for Grupo Espinosa is the absolute focus on quality and time. The staff are committed to providing the best quality in the best possible time, without causing wastage of resources. Sustainability is a huge factor playing into Grupo Espinosa’s operations, and they’ve created a healthy environment with the sustainable use of paper and energy resources as well as keeping their employees – most of them associated with the organisation for over 10 years – happy. He adds, “In order to be truly successful, you need to be good to the environment, employees, suppliers, and your customers. But most importantly, you need to be sustainable, you need to have proper working conditions, pay proper salaries, proper prices for paper, source the paper from sustainable sources, pay your taxes,  basically be a good global corporate citizen and that's probably one of the biggest achievements that we have.”

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