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Finding the Right Interface for Demanding Food Industry Applications

Thu, 04/03/2008 - 1:49pm
Here's the story of how Integrated Environmental Technologies successfully paired its EcaFlo equipment with Red Lion's G3 HMI to provide effective production of an easy-to-use antimicrobial solution that fights harmful microbes in food and water
This multi-faceted operator interface allows EcaFlo equipment operators to control the parameters of the antimicrobial solutions being produced.
Integrated Environmental Technologies Inc. (IET) manufactures EcaFlo equipment, a device that uses electro-chemical activation (ECA) to produce an environmentally safe, yet strong, antimicrobial solution. IET's customers use this device to produce solutions that can kill harmful microbes in food and water or on surfaces.

"EcaFlo equipment utilizes a weak saline solution and ECA to create a solution, called Anolyte, that is up to 100 times more effective than bleach — and far more environmentally and user-friendly," said Larry Jones, IET senior vice president. "The solution quickly destroys microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, and mold, yet will not irritate the skin or eyes of humans and animals."

Food contamination, such as the recent outbreaks of E. coli in meat and on spinach, has been a grim reminder of the importance of controlling microbial pathogens in food preparation areas, restaurants, schools, and other institutions. Serving customers in the food industry, IET needed a multi-faceted operator interface that would allow EcaFlo equipment operators to carefully control the operation of the units and the parameters of the solutions produced. Red Lion Controls Inc., a leading manufacturer of industrial control solutions, delivered that HMI solution.

Critical Parameters
"It's crucial to be able to monitor and control flow rates, power, and other functions of our EcaFlo units to assure the efficacy of our antimicrobial solutions," Jones said. "Red Lion's G3 Series of HMIs provides operators with the reliable performance, flexibility of use, and diverse capabilities they need."

Stuart Emmons, IET manager of engineering and production, selected the G3 HMI for its advanced features, data logging, NEMA 4X rating, extensive communication protocols, and complementary Crimson software. "Red Lion's Crimson programming software is free and can easily be updated online, providing customers with significant savings over competitive programs which can require additional costs with each new edition," he explained. "Plus, the G3 HMI offers a wider variety of communications options, with three serial ports and one Ethernet port, which can run up to four protocols. We can accommodate almost any communications protocol our customers have."

Since G3 HMIs use Ethernet as standard, any connected serial devices instantly become network-enabled. This feature proves especially valuable when customers need to communicate system data and status updates.

"We've had customers request that — should the EcaFlo unit go into an alarm mode or reach another parameter set by the G3 HMI — they receive instant notification of the system's status," Jones said. "This HMI solution can be programmed to flash a light, dial a phone, or send a text message or e-mail.

More Benefits
EcaFlo equipment produces environmentally safe, yet strong, antimicrobial solutions.
The same flexibility that allows users to be notified of system alerts also provides them with a convenient way to monitor operations from a remote location. "Using the G3 HMI embedded Web Server, customers can remotely log onto a PC, view the machine's status, and be able to start, stop, program, or change settings," said Emmons. "They can also have us monitor the system for them. We can take a picture of collected data every minute and store it to a flash drive, which can be an invaluable troubleshooting tool."

The G3's network connectivity has also proved valuable in occasions where IET needs to make modifications for their customers. "Using the Internet in our office, we are able to adjust parameters for system variables, such as voltage, flow rates, and power consumption, that impact the quality of our EcaFlo solution," said Jones.

IET's first EcaFlo equipment, paired with Red Lion's G3 HMI, was sold in 2005. Since then, IET has worked with customers to deliver a suitable interface panel for their applications' needs. The G3 Series offers panels for outdoor conditions, washdown areas, and other challenging environments — all with the same robust capabilities.

"Red Lion's operator interface is good for our clients and helps us provide them with a great solution," said Emmons. With its exceptional usability, Red Lion's G3 HMI has paired well with IET's EcaFlo equipment to provide customers with a strong antimicrobial solution ideal for sanitization in a wide variety of applications.

More information on EcaFlo equipment is available by contacting IET at www.ietltd.net. More information on Red Lion Controls Inc. is available by visiting www.redlion.net or calling 717-767-6511.

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