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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stock America and InduSoft Meet Tough Standards in The Food and Beverage Industry

Stock America creates advanced sterilization machines for the food and drug industry, powered by an FDA and USDA compliant HMI.


Stock America

• Stock America developed an
FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliant
HMI for use in their retort and
sterilization machines.
• The application communicates
with Allen Bradley CompactLogix
and AB SLC 5/05 PLCs using
drivers native to InduSoft Web
• Operators are restricted based
on security level and process
changes are all logged. Reports
are generated at the end of
each batch and sent to an SQL

Figure 1: Operators monitor the retort machines for information on things like air pressure,
the status of circulation pumps, chain conveyers, and heating and cooling.


Goods prepared by the food and beverage industry must understandably go through a rigorous process of preparation that requires oversight to ensure that everything adheres to federal regulations in terms of safety and stability. This oversight ensures that the food and beverages we consume are safe, regulated, and prepared in a manner that will protect consumers from food borne bacteria. Because each product cannot be individually inspected in the United States by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the machines that are used in food preparation here, and in countries that must meet similar regulations, meet strict criteria for compliance with safety regulations.

Stock America
Figure 2: A graphical overview of the water immersion process allows the operator to understand the entire process conditions at a glance.

Companies like OEM Stock America, take pride in creating machines that are designed with safety and adherence to federal regulations in mind. By teaming up with partners such as InduSoft, Stock America is able to take advantage of tools within their SCADA/HMI software solution to produce accurate records of each process to ensure compliance with regulations for safe food and beverage production.

Stock America offers customers a variety of machines used in the food processing industry. These include batch sterilizers, continuous sterilizers, material handling and pilot systems. In addition to the HMI of these machines, Stock America needs a powerful SCADA software in order to offer control solutions for its machines, as well as reliable and accurate process validation.


The tools available in InduSoft Web Studio make it easy to develop HMI applications for the ICONRMS (Retort Management System) used in the retort and sterilization equipment produced by Stock America. InduSoft provides a powerful development environment with all the tools required for creating FDA and USDA compliant applications built right into the software. In addition, the ease of developing HMI and SCADA applications for the Food and Drug market ensures that OEMs like Stock America can develop applications that are easy for operators to understand at a glance, easy to deploy, and highly flexible as technology and regulations change.

The Challenge

In the US, goods in the food and beverage and pharmaceutical industries must adhere to FDA 21 CFR Part 11 regulations. These regulations are guidelines that specify what information is required in order to leave an audit trail of records. This information generally includes electronic signatures that detail things like user activity on the machine, recipes, and reports that are generated at the end of each project. In order for a machine to help maintain compliance with 21 CFR Part 11, it’s important that all necessary data is logged automatically.

One important factor that had to be addressed in deciding on a SCADA/HMI software solution was database connectivity. Because the FDA regulations require extensive record keeping and data collection, the ability to easily send reports to an SQL database was one of the key functionalities required of the software. Stock America needed to log important data, such as recipes, reports of user activity, alarms, and events.Stock America

Another important aspect of the system is security. In order to ensure traceability in activities, the HMI system had to record user actions, and support the ability to distinguish between users by a username and password combination. This also would allow a restriction of user access on the machine to only the required functions. This level of security in coordination with the need to log and store all these actions in an SQL database proved a challenge for Stock America.

The Solution

Stock America tried several software solutions while building their machine HMIs before finally settling on InduSoft Web Studio. InduSoft is now standard the standard development solution for the ICONRMS system. InduSoft was able to address the basic requirements of FDA 21 CFR Part 11 compliance, as well as include other tools that made developing the HMI of the retort and sterilization machines easy. The system that Stock America developed uses InduSoft to connect to Allen Bradley CompactLogix and Allen Bradley SLC 5/05 PLCs using native drivers that are included standard with InduSoft Web Studio.

Logging is an important aspect of the HMIs developed for the retort process. Process validation is key, and user activity is logged within the system, along with alarms, and alarm acknowledgement. Recipes and the amount of time spent in various steps of the process are often important metrics in the food and beverage industry, and must be carefully monitored and recorded. InduSoft Web Studio makes it easy to configure easy logging into an SQL database using patented database connectivity. Stock America’s database uses an ASP.NET interface.

Stock America

Figure 3: Recipes provide a clear user interface with the system, including PID faceplates.

To maintain compliancy with FDA 21 CFR Part 11, careful logging of user activity is included in the application. This logged data provides validation of eSignatures. Users are restricted or allowed access to the system according to security levels, and each user has a username and password that can be changed to protect security. Process changes are all logged, and reports are generated at the end of each batch.

One feature that the developers of Stock America find useful is the tag structure InduSoft Web Studio uses. The unique tag system makes it possible to use indirect tags, create tag classes (structures), and change tag names on the fly that easily propagate throughout the system.

Another useful function that InduSoft Web Studio provides is the use of thin clients. The Web Thin Client used by Stock America allows customers to access their fully visualized HMIs from an office, or a computer away from the plant floor. This is a valuable addition for plant owners and supervisors working with the retort machines.

The Result

The most important result of Stock America’s partnership with InduSoft Web Studio is the ability to easily develop HMIs for their machines that make FDA and USDA compliancy hassle-free. Being able to sell compliant machines and provide process verification within the control system is a huge asset to Stock America. In addition, with the native drivers included with InduSoft Web Studio, it’s possible to offer machines that can easily interface with disparate equipment using non-proprietary protocols.

Stock America takes advantage of InduSoft Web Studio’s well refined development environment to create easy to use HMIs that don’t require intensive training to use. These intuitive interfaces make the retort machines created by Stock America easy to use and versatile in comparison to similar machines on the market.

Stock America

Figure 4: The application allows operators to view real-time trends, such as PV temperatures and rotor speeds in order to ensure that all equipment is performing at optimum levels.

The use of the Web Thin Client and the patented database connectivity make it easy to log all the necessary data and review and print it anywhere. This makes Stock America’s machine data easily portable, and it keeps machine operators and supervisors aware of process alarms and trending information even when they’re not on the floor.

Currently, Stock America has an eye toward the future. Because InduSoft Web Studio makes it so easy to plan for integration with new technology, there is always room for improvement to the current HMI offerings as new PLCs and controllers become available. Currently Stock America is in development of an OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) solution that will measure metrics such as the runtimes of different phases of the process, production reports, and other valuable metrics.


For more information contact your local distributor or InduSoft directly at

info@indusoft.com or 877-INDUSOFT (877-463-8763) or 512-349-0334.


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