Frugal cleaning fairy thanks to smart data

Data is said to be digital gold. But how do companies mine the information that is so important to them from the glut of data in the cloud? The detergent and disinfectant manufacturer Calvatis analyzes and visualizes data from industrial washing plants in MindSphere in an intelligent way.

The dirty food crates are lined up and glide into the machine. A few yards farther down the line, they leave the wash­­ing tunnel all shiny, clean, dry, and like new. This happens tens of thousands of times a day at four sites of the large German commercial enterprise. Cleanliness is the top priority in the food industry, because fresh produce is very sensitive and perishes easily.


The sheer size of the systems supplied by Calvatis to food industry customers cannot be compared with conventional household dishwashers. The industrial washers also come with sophisticated technology for optimal dosing of detergents: Sensors determine the conductibility of the mix of dirty water and detergent as well as the consumption of chemicals and the machine temperature. This information helps streamline the process to minimize consumption of energy and detergents.

But the data is not only valuable in day-to-day operations. It can also contribute to more transparency regarding the consumption of detergents and chemical additives. This, in turn, allows benchmarking of various plants and the ordering process in purchasing to be optimized. So it is no wonder that companies which operate industrial washing systems are highly interested in collecting and centrally analyzing as much data as possible.

Detailed information at the push of a button


A project jointly implemented by Siemens and Ladenburg, Germany-­based Calvatis GmbH demonstrates the benefits this offers in practice. With over 400 employees, the company is one of the world’s leading independent detergent manufacturers. The food industry is only one of many sectors represented in its customer portfolio. One of Calvatis’ best-known brands is ­calgonit industrial.

“A lot has changed in recent years,” says Matthias Schäfers of Calvatis. “Our customers expect more and more detailed information about the cleaning process.” This level of detail also applies to the commercial company and its four production sites in Germany. The dosing devices for its industrial washing systems were already fitted with Simatic S7-1200 con­trollers from Siemens, which can collect a high volume of data and output it to flash drives.

Company management wanted to regularly calculate values such as water consumption and the consumption of detergent and chemical additives per box and hour – and to do so in the cloud so that all results are available and can be accessed from a central location.

A crucial factor for Calvatis was that the installed washing systems be easily connected to the cloud and the data analyzed with minimal effort. This is where MindSphere came in: All that was needed to ­connect the machines was an IoT gateway with a plug & play connection to the Internet and the cloud – which offered the additional benefit of not requiring additional ­programming work.

New business options in service


The data can be easily analyzed: MindSphere offers users tools for data analysis such as the MindApp Manage MyMachines application, which Calvatis also uses for analyzing dosing information. It analyzes incoming data and in addition to online monitoring of machines installed worldwide, also enables new functions such as predictive maintenance, energy data optimization, and resource management.

Thanks to MindSphere, Siemens and Calvatis were able to implement the cloud project in record time: It took less than three months from the first meeting with the com­­­pany until the new solution was first used. “In the meantime, we and the employees at our customer site have an up-to-date overview of all data at all times,” says Schäfers. “Via online access, we can use the MindApp Manage MyMachines to review how high chemicals consumption is, what the plant temperature is, and the current conductibility of the water and detergent mixture. Our customer uses the data intensively: It has become a key tool for iden­tifying faults and for planning the work of service technicians.”

By using MindSphere, Calvatis will also be able to monitor automatic cleaning systems and foam cleaning devices in the future. And by relying on data in the cloud, the service team can organize its work more effectively – because technicians can already see in advance what problems are occurring in the plant.

A new three-level service model is also in the pipeline: With the basic variant, Calvatis customers only obtains raw data. The advanced version allows limited access to the cloud, and with the professional version customers can initiate analyses themselves. “The response from our customers is very good,” says Schäfers. “In particular among customers that operate globally and have plants all across the world, we are seeing substantial interest in solutions like this one.”



Picture credits: Siemens AG


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up to date at all times: everything you need to know about electrification, automation, and digitalization.