To Stay Competitive, Automation is a Must
New technological advances such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are advancing at a rapid pace and are transforming the productivity and capabilities of many businesses globally.
Food and beverages, along with manufacturing were some of the first industries to harness automation and continue to reap the benefits. So, what does automation offer?
For businesses, the benefits of automation are relatively clear. It offers the opportunity to significantly improve productivity and performance while reducing costs and the chances of human error. At the same time, automation can greatly improve quality, flexibility, and speed while lowering downtime.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that the use of automation is predicted to gain further traction in 2018.
Food and Drink Industry and Digital Technologies
The food and drink industry is a prime candidate for the further adoption of automation. It’s quite clear why, as the industry is one of the most competitive and challenging landscapes.
Tight profit margins, staying up-to-date with nutritional trends and changing customer preferences in regard to variety, flavour, innovation and environmental sustainability further increases the strain on this industry.
Things have changed rapidly in recent years for the food and drink industry. For example, the barriers to entry have lowered due to globalisation. It’s no longer sufficient enough for companies to compete by offering the largest and leveraging scale.
Now companies – even the largest multinationals – must innovate to remain relevant and stay ahead of the competition in a constantly changing, cost-competitive market.
Opportunities for Food and Drink Manufacturers
Food and drink manufacturers must utilise the latest technologies and systems to support new product lines, extensions, markets, and regions. At the same time, they are required to leverage data to identify new growth prospects and react swiftly to emerging competitive threats. Technologies that were previously optional are now essential for many plants.
With consumer demands rapidly changing, it is imperative for manufacturers to be able to be flexible enough to change from one production run to another in response to shifting trends.
With all this in mind, it has never been a better time for food and drink producers to increase their investment in automation. Some of the benefits that automation can bring to food and drink production in the long term include reducing production costs, improving productivity and efficiency and also reducing waste.
Automation Benefits and Traceability
Another key benefit that automation offers producers of food and beverage products is that it enables traceability in the manufacturing process and improves lot control.
Traceability refers to the ability to track any food items, feed, food-producing animal or substance intended for consumption as they move through the supply chain. This is advantageous as it can help manufacturers pinpoint the exact problem and remove the batch that they know is at risk. Automation and traceability not only mean money is saved in the long run, they also keep product recalls to a minimum and limits damage to a brand’s image.
Manufacturers can also benefit from automation with improved quality control within the plant. They can also increase consumer trust, by enabling consumers to gain detailed information about a product via barcode scanning.
Industry 4.0 – Even More Benefits
Sparked by the shift towards rapidly changing customer demands, Industry 4.0 (also referred to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’) is the name for the new wave of automation and technologies in the manufacturing sector.
Because customer expectations are constantly evolving, many manufacturers are recognising the need for industrial transformation and having the capability to introduce new products with unprecedented speed. We’ve previously discussed Industry 4.0 and the impact that it’ll have on products, processes and supply chains across multiple industries in an earlier blog article, so please take a look.
As the era of industry 4.0 kicks off, this offers even more opportunities for manufacturers to optimise and increase production and efficiency.
Efficiency and Productivity Gains by Pigging
More so than ever, manufacturers are deploying automated product recovery systems into their plants to improve efficiency and productivity.
Also referred to as ‘pigging’, many companies that process liquids use these systems to recover product that’s remaining in the pipelines following a changeover. This increases yield significantly while cleaning the inside of the pipelines. Pigging also speeds up changeovers, reduces cleaning times and minimises the risks of cross-contamination.
Most importantly, pigging systems increase productivity, efficiency, and profits, which is why they are an attractive option for many food and drink manufacturers. Here’s more detail about some of the benefits pigging systems can deliver to the process industries.
Automatic Pigging Benefits
Pigging systems have many clear benefits, however, these benefits can be further enhanced by choosing automatic pigging systems.
Automating your pigging system will increase processing speed, reliability and productivity while increasing the efficiency of your facility. It will also improve safety as it reduces the chances of human error.
Because automatic pigging systems require no manual intervention, this minimises the risk of incorrect operation that could lead to damage to the equipment and the individual operating it.
Find Out More
For further information about product recovery automation, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with HPS