As Roquette’s pea protein facility in Manitoba, Canada, scales up production this year, it won’t just mean more plant-based protein ingredients for a hungry and expanding market. The new facility also represents changes in how we approach food production.
That’s because of how the facility was built – and we took the opportunity to heavily invest in automation and in digital technologies, building modern practices into the Manitoba plant quite literally from the ground up.
“To me, it felt like this was the NASA of the food world,” says Joe Orangis, a millwright with Roquette who has been working since summer of 2020 to integrate machinery and prepare maintenance protocols for the new facility.
“The quality of what people are getting here is above and beyond what I’ve ever seen,” Orangis says. “When I think of companies like NASA or like Tesla, who are pioneering change – I feel like Roquette is right there with them for the food world.”
Here are four ways technology is changing how production happens at the Manitoba plant.
- Fewer operators; higher qualifications. The plant will open with a staff of only 24 production operators, all highly trained and qualified.
That’s because the plant is highly automated – individual operators may manage an entire production area, even a whole building, by themselves. Rather than working “hands-on” with the equipment, most of their time will be spent monitoring performance from a control room and taking samples to track performance and measure quality. But they’re also trained to operate equipment manually if need be.
- More labs; more data. The Manitoba plant, like most, features a central lab for product tests and quality control. But there are satellite labs throughout the facility as well. Many operators will stop three or four times every shift to measure qualities like protein purity, particle size, and other attributes.
But that’s not all: Dozens of qualities that impact product taste or quality are monitored in real-time, using automated sensors throughout the new plant.
All of this data is tracked digitally, which allows for rapid tracking and trending in the event of a nonconformity issue. Operators can pinpoint a potential problem, see which products may have been affected, and get back on track – without a single piece of paper.
- Audit-ready compliance data any time, from any place. Digital data is great for employers, but it’s also a boon to auditors. That’s true whether they work for third-party compliance organizations like the International Organization for Standardization – or for Roquette’s customers who seek to ensure the quality of NUTRALYS® pea protein ingredients.
“People can show up at the drop of a hat and say, ‘hi, I’m from Company A, and I’m here to audit you,’” says Maria Krawec, a food safety compliance coordinator with Roquette in Canada. If an auditor knocks on her door, Krawec says, she can pull up the data they need – any time, from anywhere. And it’s always current.
“The digital nature of this plant is so important,” Krawec says. “We’re here to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations – and we must always be ready to share information upon request.”
- Digital documentation, when and where it’s needed.
Audit data measures the past – but good procedures can direct the future. That’s why Roquette is digitizing everything at our new plant, including standard operating procedures.
“You can scan a QR code, and the SOP you need pops up on an iPad,” Rob Mancini says. As Integrated Management Systems Coordinator, Mancini integrates the company’s quality control standards into a single system and then develops and implements solutions within that system. He says going completely digital is changing how that happens.
“Each SOP is built, so you’ll have Step One, Step Two,” Mancini says. “We might even use smart glasses to allow someone on the floor to look at a machine, scan a QR code and get the operating procedures they need on their glasses, then and there.”
Search NUTRALYS® plant protein ingredients, get quality documents and request samples for your trials.
Your success is our greatest priority, and your needs are unique. We would love to better understand your needs and connect you with our experts.