PC-Based Controls help freeze escalating energy costs

PC-Based Controls help freeze escalating energy costs -...

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This article was printed in CONTROL's May 2009 edition. By Dan Hebert , Senior Technical Editor In many hybrid industries such as food processing, PLCs have ruled the roost for years. However, there are some hybrid applications where PLCs don’t provide enough processing power, data handling and communications. In those instances, PC-based control can be the best alternative. For example, McCain Foods in New Brunswick, Canada, is the world’s largest producer of french fries and other oven-ready frozen food products. Its 20,000 employees and 55 production facilities in 12 countries span six continents. McCain processes 1 million pounds of potatoes each hour and sells one-third of the world’s frozen french fry products. McCain prides itself on being ahead of the curve in product creation and delivery. It was the first company to create a french fry that would stay as fresh as when it was made—even after being frozen and shipped worldwide. This forward-looking philosophy has not only helped McCain create frozen foods, but also has enabled the company to embrace technological innovations in its manufacturing facilities. One such innovation was first implemented at its Easton, Maine, plant and is now serving as the model for all the company’s frozen food processing plants. Reducing Refrigeration Costs Precise temperature control is critical in food processing. In fact, refrigeration costs in a typical food processing plant can be up to 70% of total energy consumption. McCain had designed and implemented an automated control system in its Easton plant,but the company was looking for even better ways to manage energy distribution, cut usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So, McCain turned to systems integrator TechCold International (TCI) , also based in New Brunswick, to assist in updating its refrigeration control systems. As early as 2002, TCI and McCain agreed the Easton plant would be a good facility at which to develop and customize a new kind of controller. This special controller would connect to the existing infrastructure and target specific areas for energy management. The new controller also would work alongside McCain’s existing PLCs, but provide the algorithms to make the cooling process more efficient. Freezing Energy Costs. The World’s Largest Producer of Frozen French Fries Uses PC-Based Controls to Freeze Escalating Energy Costs 05/13/2009
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This is one of the many industrial refrigeration compressors used in McCain Food's processing plant. TCI’s PC-based controls help optimize operation and reduce energy consumption. [Image courtesy of TechCold
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PC-Based Controls help freeze escalating energy costs -...

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