Founded in 1999, the company has a broad background of service to food and beverage firms, including potato processing, potato chip manufacturing, jam/jelly production, cookie baking, labelling and depalletizing systems. In addition, the company offers high-tech expertise, with experience working on PLC and DCS conversions, vision inspection systems, robotic cells and more.
Concept Systems representative Tracy Chavarria told FoodProductionDaily.com that in recent years, the needs of food processing customers has evolved and become more complex. The first type of evolution, she says, involves a broader need for project management services.
“With new plants or large-scale expansions, it is critical that care and attention be paid to the controls components and architecture, in conjunction with all the other critical aspects of the project,” she said. “Successful projects require that all elements (facilities/utilities, mechanical/equipment, layout, operations, controls, and IT) all complement each other."
Concept Systems is capable of serving as lead integrator on such projects, offering food processing customers programming/system architecture standards, safety assessments, networking design and close coordination with a supervisory or Level 2 system. The lead integrator role is to ensure integration between OEM equipment is seamless, and that the manufacturing process is efficient.
The second type of evolution, Chavarria pointed out, is adding flexibility to the mix with robotics. Food processing customers are calling for a greater degree of sophistication and variety in robotics, such as 3D vision-guided robotics, technology that in recent years has both advanced and come down in price.
“This sort of technology allows our food and beverage customers to have much greater flexibility in terms of product positioning or product type; by generating a 3D model, the robot is capable of understanding a true position of a product or understanding what type of product is coming into the cell,” she said.
A sweet potato processing plant engaged Concept Systems as lead integrator to develop a control system for engineering, development, PLC, and other code development necessary to provide controls for all plant processing line equipment from the receiving area up to the frozen grading area; it also developed controls for plant support and utility areas. The integrator coordinated and directed the controls integration effort, and oversaw seamless integration and coordination of all areas of process control development.
Additionally, the company supervised timeline management, controls development status reporting, meeting coordination, adherence to standards, project cost review, project document management, and other pertinent process control development activities, OEM coordination and more.
“While project challenges are similar regardless of what type of manufacturing process is involved, there are differences in the ways clients approach their projects,” Chavarria said. “In this case, Mother Nature added a unique degree of complexity. While other types of potatoes are fairly uniform in size and shape, sweet potatoes are not and required some creative thinking about how to process them efficiently at the front end.”
Concept Systems partners with a broad range of vendors to facilitate solutions for its food processing clients. It works with Allen-Bradley, Siemens and Mitsubishi for PLC-related issues. Robotics partners include Fanuc, ABB, Nachi, Denso and Motoman. Additionally, the company has integrated vision systems from Cognex, SICK, LMI and Hermary.