Potato. A vegetable that is consumed by millions across the world is one of the most popular and highly produced vegetables found on this planet. It does not need much introduction. It is difficult to imagine a breakfast without potato hash browns in USA and a dinner without mashed potatoes in UK. Whether it is fries, potato chips, or wedges this is one vegetable that satisfies the hunger like no other. But how can a low cost PLC/HMI controller benefit the potato industry?
It is difficult to count the number of fast food businesses that have garnered worldwide popularity by selling potato based products. Enjoying monsoons in India is incomplete if you are not munching on freshly fried potatoes along with hot tea. To keep warm in bitter Arctic winters, sipping on Vodka made from fermented potatoes is a must.
There are many different varieties of potatoes, numbering about 4000 at least. Sweet potato being the most popular.
All kinds of potatoes grow underground from a potato seed. A potato seed is nothing but a potato that has started sprouting which is planted in a soil mixture conducive for its growth. Potatoes are considered as cool season or winter crop since the tubers underground stop increasing above about 27°C.
The supply chains of the agriculture industry are under a lot of pressure as they have to appease the requirements of a huge consumer base worldwide. Potatoes need to be mass produced to ensure adequate quantities reach the populace. Moreover since this is a commodity with a certain shelf life, the time spent from harvesting to selling in the market has to be managed extremely well. If the timing goes wrong, the distributors have to face major losses, as the end consumer will not buy a stale product.
Storage bunkers, silos and barns were constructed in order to mitigate this heavy demand for the produce. Storing potatoes came with its own disadvantages as the shelf life of potatoes had to be closely monitored. The chances of contamination and cross-contamination increased since the potatoes were stored for a longer time.
Although the harvest was stored in facilities that were cool, dry and dark, it was crucial that the storage units were well ventilated and maintained around 4°C for longer storage. Any small fluctuation in temperature or humidity would cause growth of bacteria and other micro-organisms that would lead to infestation. Researchers and scientists discovered that using Ozone (O3) gas would help in solving this problem.
Ozone or Tri-Oxygen is known to be highly oxidizing in nature. It reacts with bacteria destroying their progress by oxidation. It has been found to be useful in extending the shelf life by slowing the growth of potatoes. Introducing ozone gas in a storage facility helps not only in preventing the microbial activity but also controlling odor and cross-contamination. This gas also helps prevent mold growth in the storage center.
This ozone gas needs to be injected into the large space of the storage bunkers. Care has to be taken to deploy a specific concentration of Ozone into the facility. Too much ozone will destroy the potatoes and too low a concentration will not help in curbing the bacterial growth. Also, when personnel are supposed to enter the facility, it’s critical for safety that the atmosphere in the storage chamber must be purged with clean air.
A popular company that makes ozone storage facilities for potato storage, has been using the FP3070-E and FP5070-E Expandable HMI with I/Os by RENU Electronics to control the ozone levels. Just one of these low cost HMI units with add-on I/O modules can perform all the ozone monitoring and control for a storage facility, providing easy operator control via its built in graphical touch screen display. The FP3070 and FP5070 are 7” HMI units that have expansion slots to plug in various combinations of Digital and Analog I/O modules. In addition to providing a touch screen HMI they also have full PLC control functionality built in.
Operators can safely control the environment in the storage center using these HMIs. The RENU HMIs also come with floating point number support plus features like Bar-graph and Built-in Real Time Clock.
These HMIs support storing recipes / programs along with showing Trends, Alarms and with multi-language support in Unicode format. On the hardware side, these HMIs are IP66 rated, CE and UL certified and are RoHS compliant.
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Article Courtesy by RENU