By Jason Andersen, VP of business line management, Stratus
Food and beverage organisations are encountering a number of challenges when it comes to the manufacturing, packaging and labeling of goods. And these days, compliance is more of an issue than ever before as increasingly health-conscious consumers are becoming more interested in knowing what’s in their food, where it comes from and how it’s produced. So, how can food manufacturers remain competitive, nimble and efficient without compromising food safety and integrity? The answer is by realising the true value of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The rise of IIoT is indisputable, permeating and impacting various sectors. Food and beverage is one industry that can benefit from IIoT tremendously, as increased connectivity can improve quality, safety and efficiency while also optimising overall production through predictive maintenance and reduced operational costs.
To address the challenges of increasing speed and efficiency in the supply chain without impacting food safety, manufacturers need to first modernise their automation systems and IT infrastructures. This can be done with IIoT’s intelligence and speed, combined with its devices’ ability to connect throughout the supply chain and production process to collect operational data. And while IIoT promises revolutionary improvements in efficiency, achieving success will be an evolutionary process for most food manufacturers. A “rip and replace” model of implementation is not feasible in these environments, so manufacturers that wish to modernise should begin so by using IIoT to connect and supplement their existing automated systems for the most seamless transition.
Once this process is started, IIoT will play a critical role in making sure that food manufacturers are meeting regulatory demands. For example, traditional hazard analysis is done through collection of sample lots and sending them to labs for analysis – but in the future, we’re more likely to see automated, in-line analysis at the manufacturing facilities. This real-time analysis is crucial, as it enables manufacturers to identify problems faster than ever, giving them the opportunity to mitigate potentially catastrophic events before reducing waste and associated costs.
Implementing IIoT has such vast ROI for food and beverage manufacturers. This technology also gives manufacturers the opportunity to better understand their consumers, which in turn can help to truly transform their businesses. For example, IIoT can track consumer sentiment on social media, simultaneously feeding that insight into business analytics to positively influence production efficiency and marketing.
As manufacturers continue to address the pressure from regulatory boards and consumers, IIoT can help to make these businesses more lean and agile than ever before. By leveraging intelligence from the entire supply chain, IIoT is critical in helping food and beverage companies meet challenges at their fast speed of their business.