food and beverage manufacturers digitisation and automation

The Increasing Need to Adopt Digitisation and Automation

The world is changing rapidly. The trends that were decades away have been brought to the forefront in a matter of months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has put the food and beverage industry (and other process industries) under immense pressure. Changing requirements must be effectively managed.

Manufacturers also must innovate and deliver products that are safe and manufactured in an efficient, sustainable, and transparent way.

This has increased the need for digitalization, technological advancement, and automation. It’s also accelerated the rise of Industry 4.0 (here’s a blog article we did a while ago about the impact on Industry 4.0.)

This blog article explores the future of food and beverage manufacturing and the increasing need for digital technology and automation. It also looks at the role of liquid product recovery (“pigging”) technology in digital transformation and Industry 4.0.

Challenges Facing Food and Beverage Manufacturers

Food and beverage manufacturers must contend with many complex challenges. Price inflation, supply chain issues, heightened costs, declining labour availability, soaring energy prices, and navigating the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are some of the obstacles facing manufacturers.

As a result, many food and beverage manufacturers and processors are turning to innovative solutions and digital transformation. And it’s quite clear why.

From pinpointing operating inefficiencies and optimising variables to lowering costs and improving profits, food and beverage companies that have continued to invest in digital technologies are finding extensive benefits.

Importantly, they are thriving despite the turbulent and uncertain market landscape.

beverage production line industry 4.0

What About Companies that Don’t Invest in Technology?

Unfortunately, for companies that aren’t investing in digital technologies, it’s a slightly different picture. In fact, many manufacturers who haven’t invested are now struggling. This is reflected in research from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) which found that:

  • 61% of food and beverage manufacturers have experienced decreased profit margins
  • 68% of food and beverage companies have faced a shortage of operatives
  • More than half (54%) of food and beverage manufacturers have experienced reduced output and the closure of production lines

Therefore, the need for digital transformation has never been greater for those manufacturers.

The Shift Towards Smart Manufacturing

Smart technology is beginning to have a major impact on the food and beverage industry, and it’s imperative that manufacturers adapt to this industry 4.0 or fourth industrial revolution in order to benefit from it.

To put it briefly, smart manufacturing technologies refers to the approach that uses internet-connected machinery to monitor the manufacturing production process.

This major transformation also encompasses Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 and revolutionises the way companies manufacture, improve, and distribute their products. It builds on the adoption of computers and automation from the third revolution and enhances it with smart and autonomous systems that harness data and machine learning.

automatic control food and beverage manufacture

Window of Opportunity Getting Slimmer

Smart manufacturing offers food and beverage manufacturers a sustainable way of upgrading, automating and digitally transforming their processes and operations.

And the urgent requirement to do so is evident from the major benefits that early adopters are reaping from the digital and automated capabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, many early adopters have emerged from the pandemic much leaner and stronger and are already leapfrogging their less agile competitors.

It’s important to note, research conducted by Siemens Financial Services found that the window of opportunity to invest in digital technologies and gain a competitive edge is getting slimmer, with a tipping point of around 5 years. After then, food and beverage manufacturers that don’t invest will be seriously lagging behind their competitors.

How Smart Manufacturing Can Benefit Food and Beverage Manufacturing?

Smart manufacturing enables food and beverage manufacturers to transform their business and processing operations through data integration, machine learning, and predictive analytics.

One of the main benefits gained from this is cost reduction through efficiency and productivity gains. After all, improving transparency throughout the supply chain helps to improve production inefficiencies, which reduces costs. Improving the productivity and efficiency of processes also saves energy, water, and other resources, which also reduces costs.

Smart manufacturing and digital transformation also mean less waste due to optimisation tools; precision scheduling and analytics enabling manufacturers to cut waste, increase capacity and uptime, reduce reworks, and importantly reduce costs.

With smart manufacturing, food and beverage companies can also adapt to supplier and customer needs in real time, which results in more accurate production, safe and compliant operation, and lower costs.

With food and beverage manufacturers already operating on narrow profit margins, any small improvements to operating costs can reap big awards and vastly improve profits.

smart manufacturing industry 4.0

The Role of Pigging Systems

So, where do pigging systems fit into smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0?

Pigging systems are a highly effective, innovative technology that recover residual liquid product from process pipelines. Over the years, the technology has advanced from basic manual equipment to fully automatic pigging and liquid transfer technology operated by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) with either HMI or SCADA systems.

The technology is in wide use in food and beverage manufacturing plants throughout the world. And its use is increasing.

As well as food and beverage companies, applications, and industries such as personal care, cosmetics, pet food, confectionery, chemicals, lubricants, paint, coatings, and household liquids are also reaping the benefits of pigging systems.

As industry 4.0, and smart manufacturing gains more traction, just like other technologies, pigging systems will be transformed through data harnessing, machine learning and predictive analytics.

In fact, HPS R&D engineers are working on some really interesting and ground-breaking use of smart manufacturing technologies in pigging systems – watch this space!

Automatic Pigging Solutions

More than ever, HPS automatic pigging systems are becoming predominant in new implementations.

And with an increasing number of companies turning to smart manufacturing, digital transformation and automation, automatic pigging solutions are likely to be an instrumental part of this.

HPS has extensive experience and process system knowledge, and has successfully developed and written fully flexible, tried, and tested pigging control systems and software.

Our highly experienced and knowledgeable experts can provide standalone or integrated pigging process control systems. They can also integrate control systems into an existing set-up. Whatever the requirements, HPS pigging experts will work in partnership with you to deliver your plant PLC and HMI programming needs.

industrial pigging automation screen

Find Out More

Pigging systems can help solve some of your biggest liquid processing challenges. They’re an incredibly effective way to increase yields, cut waste, speed up changeovers, improve efficiency, increase capacity, decrease water usage, improve profits plus much more. Our savings calculator can quickly and easily estimate the pigging system savings your company could make by using an HPS solution.

To discuss an automatic pigging solution designed around your precise needs and requirements, please contact HPS – pigging system specialists.

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