Food Engineering Finds Value in ECS Content on Lethality

In a recent Food Engineering article about complying with FSMA for pet food manufacturing, the following content from ECS was included:

Sidebar: Lethality processing revisited and improved

Following standard cooking procedures is critical in a lethality process. Procedures need to be enforced, and data captured can confirm that the specified length of time and temperature have been met in the cooking process. However, this method can be improved. Cooking, or thermally processing, typically involves heating the product to a pre-determined temperature and holding the temperature for a minimum length of time. But, how variable is this process? The temperature varies with different equipment and can affect the desired result. The choice of “starting time” is another variable, which may be taken to be: when the desired temperature is reached—or is measured from when heating begins. Hence, there is a significant variation in the measured temperature-time profiles required to destroy the pathogens. For example, there is a dramatic decrease in the time required to destroy both salmonella and Listeria in ham, beef and turkey at temperatures above 131°F compared to temperatures below 131°F.The mathematical integration of temperature-time profiles is a measure of the extent of heat exposure of the product. This offers a practical approach to determine the lethality factor for a product. Early efforts to use this approach were limited by the inability of programs such as Excel to carry out the integration.Today’s processors, who incorporate automated processes into control systems, have underutilized functionality that can easily be used to integrate the data collected as temperature-time profiles. The incorporation of a “lethality equipment module,” which uses existing controller instructions to complete the integration of the temperature-time profiles, provides a reliable indicator of the amount of heat exposure of the product.There are several benefits to adopting a lethality module, particularly since improved product quality and quantity is realized, together with the overall reduction in production costs. Other benefits include:

  • Reduction of cooking time
  • Repeatability of cooking exposure
  • Energy conservation
  • The elimination of potential human error since no manual data collection is required

The automated system can proceed without operator intervention once the required lethality exposure has been met.

—John Parraga, ECS Solutions

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The Advantages of an Agile Cleaning System
There are many benefits to investing in an agile cleaning system. And though manufacturers may have to make an initial financial investment, the advantages that come along with it are as many as they are profitable.

ECS President, Tim Matheny, recently lent his expertise to AutomationWorld on the subject. Check out the full piece HERE!

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The Benefits of Batch Recipe Lifecycle Management
ECS President Tim Matheny is back and talking about the benefits of batch recipe lifecycle management on the AutomationWorld blog. Read to learn how a batch management package can reduce risk and help get products to market much quicker. #blog #automationworld #batchexperts #batchmanufacturing

Click here to read more!

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Tim Matheny Talks “Cooking to Kill” on

In a recent article on, ECS Solutions’ President & CSIA guest blogger, Tim Matheny shared his insights into the best manufacturing process for cooking.

Here is an excerpt from the piece:

Many of the ready-to-eat products that we consume today are cooked. Cooking kills pathogenic bacteria in food products. Cooking properly makes food safer to consume. The best manufacturing process for cooking a certain ingredient or product is the process that produces lethality as quickly as possible without adverse effect to the product.

Check out the full article HERE!

Nice work, Tim!

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ECS Helps O.Z. Tyler Modernizes Bourbon Production & Expand Distillery

ECS Solutions is proud to announce that customer,  O.Z. Tyler, is growing quickly with 2019 expansion plans that include 10 new bourbon storage facilities to be built in Ohio County and an additional warehouse at their Owensboro distillery.

Every process throughout the distillery is run through a more than $1 million touch-screen operating system installed by ECS Solutions. One touch can open a grain bin, turn on the hammer mill, control the bourbon recipe and operate the cooker where grain is mashed.

Congratulations to this successful company! You can read more about this exciting expansion HERE!

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Options for Dosing Genealogy

The following, written by ECS Solutions President Tim Matheny, was published in Automation World in April of 2019. The article can be seen HERE.

Batch manufacturing in Food and Pharmaceuticals requires knowing the genealogy, or history, of any ingredient materials. When the source container or vessel contains several lots of the ingredient material, the Control System Engineer must make some assumptions and do some math.

One choice, often referred to as plug flow, is to assume that there is no mixing between the lots—that they are stacked on top of each other in the vessel as if there were an invisible membrane between each consecutive lot. The control system assumes that until the volume or weight of lot “a” is dosed out, that lot, and only lot “a”, is being dosed. When lot “a” is gone, the control system assumes only lot “b” is being dosed. At most there will be one product batch with some of lot “a” and some of lot “b”. Risked recall cost, when this assumption is used, is very high because a significant number of batches/lots of product must be included due to the ridiculous underlying assumption. Generally, a plug flow assumption should not be used today.

Dosing genealogy might be determined by modifying the plug flow approach, assuming a band of mixing between consecutive ingredient material. Factors that affect the thickness of the mixing band include: how material is loaded into the vessel, the viscosity of the material, the shape of the vessel, time the lots have resided in the vessel, etc. Recall costs are appropriate because, in the case of a recall on ingredient lot “b”, only batches dosed from bands “a-b”, “b” and “b-c” need be recalled. This approach can be appropriate when ingredient mixing tendencies are well known.

A third approach assumes that the ingredient materials are fully mixed. Until the vessel is drained and cleaned, any dosing genealogy is assumed to include some of all ingredient material lots introduced into the vessel. When there is a long duration between drain-clean cycles, ingredient lot “a” is assumed to be in many product batches/lots, risking very high recall costs. Maintaining a short duration between drain-clean cycles is also expensive. Producers can be driven to designing a system utilizing single-ingredient-lot vessels or containers. This is a very safe approach that is often dictated.

A combination approach to determining dosing genealogy also assumes complete mixing of all ingredient lots in the source vessel. The dosing genealogy is assumed to be the percentage of each ingredient lot remaining in the vessel. Volumes removed for each ingredient lot are accumulated, much as with plug flow. At some small remaining amount, the ingredient lot is assumed to be completely removed from the vessel. This approach offers reasonable recall cost risk without necessitating drain-clean cycles, making it an attractive approach when the extremely safe third approach, above, is not dictated.

With only slightly more math, the Control System Engineer can determine dosing genealogy with any of these approaches while a new ingredient lot is being added to the vessel. Allowing material to enter and leave the vessel concurrently increases equipment availability and, often, overall system OEE.

A risk analysis process is used to choose how dosing genealogy should be determined in a specific situation. Factors mentioned above, and others, must be carefully considered. Producers who determine dosing genealogy appropriately balance risk and cost using engineering analysis to make the right assumptions and do the right math.


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Boosting Batch Performance at a Salad Dressing Plant
A well-known line of salad dressings was recently acquired by a major food manufacturer with the plan to establish a fully automated, paperless manufacturing process for the production. To do this efficiently and cost-effectively
represented a significant challenge.

That challenge was met and surpassed by the ECS approach to boosting batch performance, which focuses upon providing value at every stage of the process system life-cycle. Thus, it was possible to construct a solution that consistently delivered high-quality products at the lowest possible cost.

Download the Full Salad Dressing Case Study HERE

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ECS Solutions Participated in the 15th Annual UE Engineering Forum

ECS Systems Engineer, Nick Schuetz, a 2016 graduate of the University of Evansville, served on a panel at their 15th Annual Engineering Forum.

As with previous forums, this activity is an ideal way for alumni and employers to meet students and provide important career information and professional advice. Professional attendees enjoyed a light dinner with student leaders and faculty from the College of Engineering and Computer Science and informally networked with students during the reception.

ECS is proud to support UE’s efforts and is proud of Nick for sharing his knowledge of the Engineering world with eager students.

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ECS Hosts University Professionals

On November 1, 2018, ECS hosted an impressive group of Engineering Professors from the University of Evansville’s Electrical Engineering Department. As ECS is guided by the principles of excellence in all we undertake and trust that we both earn and extend to others, aligning with the University is of the utmost importance as we grow. ECS is always promoting the training and growth of University students so that we may continue to have the best engineering candidates for employment.

Our distinguished guests included Dr. Ying Shang, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and Professor of Electrical Engineering. Dr. Shang’s impressive bio even includes automation controls which synergizes well with our business and gives her a deeper understanding of the work we do here. Along with her other colleagues, Dr. Dick Blandford, Dept. Chair, Electrical & Computer Science, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Dr. Tony Richardson, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Dr. Lotfalian, Professor of Electrical Engineering, the meeting centered around continuing to grow our partnership with the University. The afternoon concluded with a guided facilities tour and a reception. The afternoon was informative, fun and we look forward to working with these fine academics to continue to foster growth in their Engineering students.

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ECS President Featured in Automation World
ECS President Tim Matheny was published in Automation World with an article entitled, ” The Clash of Manufacturing Digitalization”. The article discusses whether you decide on a single-source or best-of-breed approach, your digitalization system should be your own, providing the ability to expand and optimize.

Way to go, Tim! Check out the full article HERE!

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