What should the optimal operating point for my multivariate process be? If you’re asking this question, it’s tough to find an answer. For instance, in a milk powder production plant where spray drying is commonly used, the question of what the optimal operating point is for maximum throughput, optimum moisture and minimum energy consumption (while staying within product quality specification) is all too familiar.
The difficulty in optimizing a multivariate process lies in the fact that changing a particular variable (e.g. temperature) may bring about a ripple effect on other variables’ behavior, which makes controlling for one variable difficult. In the event of variables that are unpredictable (e.g. ambient air humidity), identifying the optimal operating condition is almost impossible, even with the most experienced operator. The situation becomes even more difficult when product quality cannot be continuously measured. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that changing the variables may result in worsening product quality, which means taking a very conservative approach to running the process.
So, how do we determine the optimal operating limit in order to optimize throughput in this situation? Innovative global F&B companies have led the way with their use of Advanced Process Control (APC), a process control method that uses mathematical models of process behavior to predict and manipulate variations. Simply put, this method ensures your process is always at its best operating level.