What is central to our daily lives, and to core practice areas within our work at Optimation, is the optimization of resources and productivity for food and energy.
On the surface, these two may not appear to be likely candidates to share the attention and capabilities of an integration and automation firm. However, there is actually much opportunity for collaboration and overlap.
For years, Optimation has been heavily involved with food manufacturers in upstate New York and around the country. We have worked with yogurt manufacturers and egg farms, and other dairy processing and cheese production businesses to help make them safer, more productive, and more cost-efficient. Many other food and beverage segments, from beer and spirits to pasta and sauce processing, have been longtime areas of strength and growth.
Similarly, a large portion of our business has been generated by work in the energy sector. Particularly oil and gas services support, such as high-pressure test systems and other technology-intense applications that require significant process knowledge for safe and high reliable operation.
Despite appearances, the trajectories of these two industry segments, food and energy, converge in the application of our expertise and technical experience. New and inspired clients in both sectors are the beneficiaries of our ability to cross pollinate. We are able to leverage lithium battery manufacturing, hydrogen fuel cell systems testing, fruit and vegetable safety and enhancement, freeze-dried food production, and other seemingly distant technology opportunities.
With the annual recognition of National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day on October 8 we wanted to acknowledge the important work being done by pioneers and veterans in the Energy business. As they explore innovative and novel ways to generate, harvest, and store energy for on and off grid applications, we are striving to be an important part of making that not only real, but also fiscally stable and sustainable. Whether it’s hydrogen generation, dispensing, or other balance of plant application work we are applying our expertise across these systems to help bring them to market safely and economically.
Likewise, as efforts intensify to reduce food waste, increase productivity, and lower the carbon footprint of transporting food from field to table we are seeking to find ways to make an impact where automation and our process knowledge can deliver meaningful solutions. We have found that we are able to coat and package fresh fruit and vegetables, being able to handle very large volumes of product and to cost-effectively greatly extend shelf life and retain nutritional value.
So while a hydrogen fuel cell in a car or forklift truck (instead of the classic internal combustion engine or propane tank) may not seem to have much in common with an avocado or on your kitchen counter, there’s a chance that some of the science underlying both of those are related and making our daily lives and those of our neighbors more bountiful, more environmentally friendly, and more affordable for the long term.
Fun fact: as with National “Pi Day” (March 3-14), engineers have gotten hold of a date (October 8) for National H2 and Fuel Cell Day playing off the atomic weight of the element (1.008). Feel free to use that in bar talk next time the opportunity arises!
Original Hydrogen Fuel Car Image from NREL - https://www.nrel.gov/hydrogen/