Instrumentation and computer control are tools for improving productivity and reducing costs in food processing plants. Approximately one-seventh of the total sales volume of industry in the United States is devoted to food processing. The growth rate of food processing is more than three times the population growth rate. This dissimilarity in growth can be attributed to expanding food product lines and the expanding role of food in international trade. A profit squeeze has existed traditionally in the food processing industry. As a result, there is a constant surveillance for methods that result in the cost reductions needed to finance this industrial expansion. Instrumentation and computer control are proven cost reduction tools in the food industry. Despite the large number of different food products, some problems are common to many food processors. Therefore, a few select instrumentation and computer control techniques offer solutions to important problems common to many in different segments of the food processing industry. This paper describes some applications now being installed in food processing plants. Included are: • energy conservation computer control • food preparation and cooking computer control • food moisture, drying, and dehydration computer control. A case study in the economics of a vegetable drying plant is developed in this paper.

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