July 24, 2024

Calvatis – Leveraging IoT data to enhance efficiencies in food safety

Calvatis achieves a six per cent reduction of chemical consumption by using MindSphere to analyze and visualize data from industrial washing lines.

Protecting food safety with industrial hygiene

Dirty food crates are lined up and glide down into the washing machine. A few yards farther down the line, they leave the washing tunnel shiny, clean, dry and like new. This happens tens of thousands of times a day at four production sites of a large German food retailer. Cleanliness is the top priority in the food industry for con­sumer safety and adherence to industry guidelines. With global population expected to grow to 8.6bn people by 2030, the optimisation of resources is increasingly important. MindSphere is used to optimise resource usage including water, energy, detergents and additives.

A new challenge solved with IoT data

In 2015, Calvatis was asked by a large customer in the food industry to supply dis­pensing units and the cleaning detergents for its washing lines. The customer’s require­ments were demanding: Calvatis was tasked not only with supplying dispensing units and the cleaning detergents for its washing lines, but also with creating a central monitoring and control system. The challenge was com­pounded by the customer’s request that Calvatis manage the performance and maintenance of the systems as a service. Furthermore, the customer required imple­mentation of a solution in an extremely short time frame.

“A lot has changed in recent years. Our customers expect more and more detailed information about the cleaning process.”

Matthias Schäfers, Head of Business Development at Calvatis

Prior to this customer request, Calvatis mon­itored the washing lines performance through on-site visits at regular intervals, and used sampling to assess the quality of the cleaning and disinfecting process. There was continuing uncertainty as to whether the cleaning and disinfecting processes used cleaning agents effectively and sustainably in accordance with food industry hygiene regulations.

The washing lines operated by Calvatis on behalf of their industry customers are enor­mous compared to conventional household dishwashers. In a washing line, for exam­ple, meat crates are transported by a con­veyor belt through a series of washing machines. The crates complete a three-step washing and drying process consisting of pre-cleaning, main washing, and post-wash­ing/rinsing. The crates are pressure-washed with a water/detergent fluid. The cleaning fluid is injected by dispensing units supplied by Calvatis and controlled by Siemens S1200 controllers. Regulations require either a continuous processing temperature of over 82° Celsius or oxidative cleaning which uses a water detergent mixture instead of pure water. Due to low energy usage and water consumption, oxidative cleaning is preferred, but it requires keeping the process parameters stable.

The industrial washers also come with sophisticated technology for optimal dis­pensing of detergents. Sensors determine the mix of water and detergent as well as the consumption of chemicals and the machine temperature. Access to this sensor data facilitates optimisation of the process to minimize the consumption of energy and detergents.

“The response from our customers is very good,” says Schäfers. “In particular among customers that operate globally and have plants all across the world, we are seeing substantial interest in solutions like this.”

Matthias Schäfers, Head of Business Development at Calvatis

But the data is not only valuable in day-to-day operations. It enables increased trans­parency of the consumption of detergents and chemical additives. This, in turn, allows benchmarking of various plants and optimi­zation of the ordering of additional materi­als in the purchasing process. For this reason, companies that operate washing sys­tems across multiple plants are highly inter­ested in collecting and analyzing as much data as possible in a centralised location.

“A lot has changed in recent years,” says Matthias Schäfers of Calvatis. “Our customers expect more and more detailed information about the cleaning process.”

This level of detail was also of interest to Calvatis’ cus­tomer. The customer wanted to regularly cal­culate the consumption of water, detergent and chemical additives per box and per hour – and to do so in the cloud, so that all results are readily available and can be accessed from a central location. To fulfill its customer’s requirements, Calvatis turned to Siemens, and after a brief consultation established the key parameters of a solution founded on MindSphere – the cloud-based, open Internet of Things (IoT) operating sys­tem. MindSphere enables companies to con­nect products, plants, systems and machines to harness the wealth of data generated by the IoT with advanced analytics. Calvatis was extremely open-minded and understood the opportunity of the IoT. With secured end-to-end solutions for connecting devices, storing data and developing and running applications on a managed service platform, MindSphere was an ideal choice for the solution.

“…We and the employees at our customer site have an up-to-date overview of all data at all times. Via online access, we can use MindSphere to review how high chemical consumption is, what the plant temperature is, and the conductivity of the water and detergent mixture.”

Matthias Schäfers, Head of Business Development at Calvatis

Calvatis needed to create a digital twin of its cleaning systems, built from performance data. From this data, the company could develop key performance indicators (KPIs) as a basis for controlling the cleaning and disinfecting processes. Another challenge was to make these KPIs accessible to the respective on-site production managers as well as a quality manager responsible for the entire company – all of which MindSphere is capable of.

Launching a project in six weeks

Working with MindSphere Services, Calvatis was able to launch the project at one of their customer’s plants in a compressed time frame – less than six weeks after the initial consultation with Siemens.

A crucial factor for Calvatis was that the installed washing systems could be easilyconnected to the cloud and the data could be monitored and analyzed with minimal effort. The dispensing devices for the wash­ing systems were already fitted with Simatic S7-1200 controllers from Siemens, which can collect and output a high volume of data. All that was required to connect the washing machines was the MindConnect Nano with a plug-and-play connection to the Internet and the cloud – which offered the additional benefit of not requiring addi­tional programming work. Another ambi­tious objective in the initial project involved linking the washing lines to MindSphere and Calvatis via SSL-/TLS-encrypted data transmission.

The initial project began in 2016 in the first plant. The customer was quickly impressed with the quantifiable improvements in effi­ciency and cost along with improvements in cleaning quality. Improvements included a 10 percent reduction in downtime and a six percent reduction in the use of cleaning fluid plus a proportionally high reduction of water usage – the detergent content in water is fixed at a half percent. After good experiences with the first project, MindSphere was quickly expanded to all other meat processing plants of the customer.

New business options in service

The collected performance data can be easily analysed. MindSphere offers users options for data analysis such as Product Intelligence and Visual Analyzer, which Calvatis also uses for analyzing dispensing data. It analyzes the incoming data, online monitors washing machines installed world­wide and enables new functions such as predictive maintenance, energy data optimization, and resource management.

Thanks to MindSphere, Siemens and Calvatis were able to implement the cloud project on the mandated project schedule. “In the meantime, we and the employees at our customer site have an up-to-date overview of all data at all times,” says Schäfers. “Via online access, we can use Visual Analyzer to review how high chemicals consumption is, what the plant temperature is, and the cur­rent conductivity of the water and detergent mixture. Our customer uses the data inten­sively. It has become a key tool for identify­ing faults and for planning the work of service technicians.”

By using MindSphere, Calvatis will also be able to monitor automatic cleaning systems and foam cleaning devices in the future.

And by relying on data in the cloud, the ser­vice team can organize its work more effec­tively – because technicians can predict what problems are occurring in the plant.

“Our business is part of commodity business but special solutions like MindSphere are not a commodity. This is a good solution we can offer our customers.”

Thomas Mohr, Managing Director at Calvatis

Calvatis now has a new three-level service model in the pipeline. With the basic offer­ing, Calvatis customers obtain reports at scheduled intervals. The advanced offering allows access to standard dashboards in the cloud, and with the professional offering customers can initiate analyses anytime themselves. “The response from our cus­tomers is very good,” says Schäfers. “In par­ticular among customers that operate globally and have plants all across the world, we are seeing substantial interest in solutions like this.”

Leveraging IoT ensuring food safety, improving operational efficiencies and differentiating through new values added services

As outlined IoT solutions are more and more requested by customers in the food and beverage (F&B) industry due to three main reasons:

1) Food safety: The process parameters of the washing lines need to be closely moni­tored and documented to comply with food safety regulations. MindSphere is the ideal system to monitor the process and create alarms in case process conditions are not within the specified tolerances.

2) Operational efficiencies: Key challenge in all F&B is the optimization of resource usage: Water, energy, detergents and food ingredients. In this case MindSphere helped to achieve a 10 percent reduction in down­time and a six percent reduction in the use of cleaning fluid.

3) New value added services: MindSphere is an effective solution to position Calvatis as a company offering additional value added services and to facilitate access to new cus­tomers by being able to differentiate from competition.”Our business is part of com­modity business but special solutions like MindSphere is not a commodity. That is a good solution we can offer our customers,” says Thomas Mohr, Managing Director.

Fact File



Business challenges

  • Centrally manage cleaning systems in production plants of a food retailer
  • Manage system performance and provide maintenance as a service
  • Implement IoT solution on short project timeline
  • Reduce operational costs
  • Improve cleaning system quality

Keys to success

  • MindSphere cloud-based open IoT operating system for ease of expansion and scalability
  • Easily connect existing machines using MindConnect
  • Leverage advanced data analytics to accelerate and improve decision-making


  • Reduced downtime by 10 per cent
  • Reduced use of consumables by six per cent
  • Installed the first cloud-based monitoring of washing linesless than six weeks after first consultation
  • Executed additional projects in a fast “copy-and-paste” manner at three other customer locations
  • Enabled a new service business model


MindSphere: www.siemens.com/mindsphere

Customers primary business

Calvatis GmbH is one of the major independent manufac­turers of detergents and disinfectants for the food industry. Based on vast expertise, experience and a future-oriented dedication to industrial cleaning processes, Calvatis has served the global market for more than 75 years.With its own production and sales offices around the world and a network of business partners on five continents, Calvatis develops and sells cleaning and disinfecting agents under the Calgonit Industrial brand name as well as components for hygiene systems. The company supplies dispensing units in varying sizes, carefully managing the supply chain to make certain that all components, installa­tions and systems comply with the highest standards for design, quality, cost-efficiency and environmental friendliness.

Customer location

Ladenburg, Germany.