Tailor-made solutions for long-lasting productsDog food, baby food, eye drops, or a fruit and vegetable smoothie: Everyone has become used to food and drugs having sterile packaging and a long shelf life. But how can perishable products be freed of pathogens without losing important ingredients or their quality suffering? And that is precisely the task of autoclaves from Steritech: The company develops customized solutions for gently but effectively pasteurizing or sterilizing food and medicaments in almost any packaging.
Steritech S.A. is a company based in Saverne, France. One of its customers' primary requirements is high plant productivity, so it supports them with tailor-made process solutions. This also includes a perfectly harmonized, future-proof automation and visualization solution which uses state-of-the-art tools.
It is therefore important to Steritech that the plants are as easy as possible to operate. The autoclaves are therefore equipped with a modern visualization solution, which supports the operator on site with easily understandable icons, integrated routines, and maintenance and servicing guides. Extensive diagnostic functions make it easier to rectify malfunctions, and the robust, comprehensively protected design of the operator stations contributes toward reliable operation of the plants.
Innovations for the long-term conservation of resources and the environmentSteritech S.A. was founded in 1988 by Patrice Camu with a specific concept, which was not yet on the market at that time: Autoclave systems that work with a high degree of automation and allow batch data to be traced. The systems should also be highly flexible and be able to pre-process the data gained.
With this approach, Steritech quickly established itself as one of the world's leading companies in the innovation of technology for preparing food and pharmaceutical products. The company is located in Saverne in the Lower Rhine Department of the Alsace region. Nowadays, it designs and implements intelligent sterilization and pasteurization solutions for a multitude of products and packagings. In order to meet the high demands of the food and pharmaceutical industries, the company's solutions frequently need new approaches to the design, the control system and the data networking. Teams of experts for mechanical engineering, processes, electrical engineering and controlling work closely together in the company's own design bureau to find the best solution for each task. The developers also support commissioning on site, which enables them to incorporate direct feedback from users immediately into their work. In this way, Steritech ensures that the development of its solutions is characterized by technological progress and specific benefits in application.
We begin each new project with the customer's product and ensure that the quality far exceeds the requirements of the specification. We develop, test and verify every project in our own in-house laboratory, which our customers can also use to investigate their products.Pierre Gavignon, Directeur Général, Steritech
Christophe Wendling, head of electrical engineering and automation at Steritech, expressed his enthusiasm: "Since the market launch, we have been working with the TIA Portal engineering framework. The integrated engineering of all components, the powerful SIMATIC S7-1500 Controllers and the integrated SCADA solution, WinCC, make it much easier to develop our own solutions. They enable us to develop plants and systems that are also equipped to meet future requirements. So we are already working today on the extensive networking of plant data, which is constantly becoming more important for diagnostic and maintenance purposes, such as in the course of Industrie 4.0."
On the basis of SIMATIC WinCC Professional, Steritech has developed its own Trilogy MES (Manufacturing Execution System) solution for acquiring and evaluating plant and charge data, which supports the user with many functions. This not only makes it easier to create recipes and to monitor the pressure and temperature in the autoclaves, but also to perform the maintenance and regular maintenance measures.
A calendar function automatically sends the personnel a text message or an email when essential work becomes due. Integrated video tutorials help operators to do this work as quickly and easily as possible. Trilogy also automatically sends a message when problems occur in the plant. The operator can also use WebUX to display all the recorded important performance and production data of his plant as key figures, even when using a mobile device. This enables him to assess and optimize the productivity and efficiency of the process at any time.
"We supply our customers with a comprehensive package for operating their autoclaves. This starts with an intuitive interface so that employees do not need a long period of training, and includes routines and integrated tools for efficient maintenance and user-friendly remote access to plant data for detailed analyses, and comparisons of performance, efficiency and availability," explains Christophe Wendling. "This enables our customers to use the full potential of their systems." Not only new plants benefit from this: Steritech recently retrofitted the 13 autoclaves of a plant with the Trilogy solution. As a result of the better transparency, the plant operator was able to improve the performance of the existing systems by 7 percent and thus saved the investment in another autoclave. "This successful project showed how important good plant transparency was. In the meantime, we have been discussing a continuous pasteurization line with this customer," confirms Wendling. "This is not the only in this case where we have to thank the TIA Portal, WinCC and our own Trilogy solution for the performance that we demonstrate. It is a real door-opener for us."
The performance that we demonstrate thanks to TIA Portal, WinCC and our own Trilogy solution is a real door-opener for us.Christophe Wendling, head of electrical engineering and automation at Steritech Efficient, reliable and easy to service
Efficient, reliable and easy to service
Standardizing on Siemens as the automation partner and uniform engineering pays off for Steritech in many respects. "Due to the perfect interaction between the components and simple configuration in the TIA Portal, we save around 20 percent of our expenditure on engineering and commissioning – and our plants are commensurately ready for production more quickly," says Wendling. The components impress the customers with their reliability and durability: "We have been using industrial PCs from Siemens for more than 10 years now, and there are plants that are still working with the first generation of equipment – without failures in a harsh production environment. That speaks for itself!" Via the secure remote access, Steritech employees can access plants at all times and help customers solve problems or even modernize the plants – so the company's customers are continually benefiting from technological progress. And should a component need to be replaced, Steritech can rely on good support from Siemens: "We had to replace the converter for one of our customers in Switzerland," Wendling goes on. "We received the call in the morning, by the evening Siemens had delivered a replacement device, we then configured the component, and the plant was ready for operation again on the following morning."
One of the most important aspects for Steritech is currently still up in the air for many customers – but it is already reality in the plants of this Alsatian company: "We are working on being able to offer our customers data-based services, with which we can continually optimize the plant performance and further raise the availability of our autoclaves. For example, trending parameters, such as energy and steam consumption, often indicate wear. Monitoring this data enables us not only to offer appropriate maintenance – but also to calculate which productivity with which maintenance measures can be achieved over the life cycle, and so carry out a detailed cost-benefit analysis. This allows fully new business models to be developed, with which we offer our customers a specified availability, efficiency or productivity. With the TIA Portal and our Trilogy solution, we are already optimally prepared today."