Application And Implementation

Several areas in food science and engineering research can benefit from the application of optimization methods. This is even more so in the broad area of food processing and food manufacturing. A general categorization of the types of problems that optimization methodology may assist solving has been attempted (2). Equipment design, which involves the design of individual components of a machine or a total system (eg, multiple effect evaporators), is a common area for application of optimization methods. Most equipment and food manufacturing companies use optimization techniques to design the best equipment possible.

Another area of application is plant design and layout, where the whole food manufacturing plant is considered as one system and may be optimized for overall efficiency, total operating cost, yield, total return, quality of output, and throughput. This is a far more difficult task than designing individual equipment, and thus its implementation has lagged behind. The optimization of food processing plants is more complex than other industrial plants because, except for the regular process optimization, changes in raw materials (input) and final product properties (output) must be accounted for (49). Thus, optimization of food processing plants is a subset of a much broader system called food chain optimization (49). This includes optimization of raw materials properties, process optimization, and product optimization. It is imperative to stress the importance of applying optimization methods in all of the previously mentioned areas.

Optimization also improves the management and control of processing plants (2). With the increased use of computers and computer control in food manufacturing, optimization should be an integral part of every sophisticated processing plant. However, routine application of optimization methods during operation (on- or off-line) exists in only a small fraction of industrial plants (2). This must change to increase efficiency, productivity, and quality and reduce energy use, product loss, and environmental pollution. The stiff competition in the world's markets will force an increased use of optimization on food manufacturers. Furthermore, population dynamics and changing consumer attitudes toward food and the environment will necessitate the adoption of optimization philosophy, ideas, and techniques throughout the food handling system. This will extend from the harvesting of raw materials to the transportation, processing, packaging, distribution, and consumption of the final products.

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Sleeping Sanctuary

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