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Donated Hardware is Training ITP Students to Use Smart Sensors and Data Analysis in Food Manufacturing

Anyone who’s used an Instant Pot to braise or fry a meal knows that volume, pressure, and temperature are crucial elements to manage in food preparation. Now, thanks to ifm Efector, one of the largest manufacturers of industrial sensors and controls, Industrial Technology and Packaging students have a new piece of gear for learning about these variables and other processes in food and chemical manufacturing.

Dan Calaman made the donation on behalf of ifm and is one of the manufacturer’s senior applications engineers based in California. He realized the equipment would be a valuable addition to Dr. Manocher Djassemi’s ITP 390 Industrial Automation lab after making multiple trips to Cal Pol to demonstrate sensor technologies and engaging with students.

“This is a great contribution by ifm in promoting the emerging industrial technology of the internet of things and smart manufacturing,” says Dr. Djassemi. “It’s part of a continuous effort in our ITP program to prepare career-ready students by familiarizing them with the latest technologies.”

 

“It’s part of a continuous effort in our ITP program to prepare career-ready students by familiarizing them with the latest technologies.”

 

The ifm lab donation is an example of a product tank in a food or chemical manufacturing environment. It’s an effective tool for learning about smart sensors and data monitoring and was developed as a simple way to represent common process variables important in observing media in a tank—i.e. level, pressure, and temperature.

A key feature that differentiates it from monitoring devices of the past, however, is its onboard microprocessor, with a Raspberry Pi control element, allowing operators to take advantage of the large amounts of data being generated in the measurement process, helping facilitate smarter decisions and more efficient workflow practices.

A common example of how this feature may improve a food manufacturing process? Instead of unnecessarily saddling workers with the task of cleaning a level probe, a supervisor can simply monitor the device, which reports when build-up has reached a critical point and needs cleaning. That means less time wasted scraping gunk and more time spent making something delicious.

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Posted Dec 8, 2019

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