A digital recipe for the future

Rockwell Automation Australia
Thursday, 01 April, 2021

Improve yield, quality and workforce effectiveness in food and beverage operations with smart manufacturing and digital transformation.

The food and beverage industry is changing fast. Clean labels. Plant-based alternatives. Traceability. Sustainability. Grocery delivery. Population growth. The list goes on. The coming together of new consumer trends and the proliferation of technology has left producers racing to keep up. And we are seeing complexity grow and productivity decline as a result.

Smarter. More connected. More productive.

Despite the many challenges, leading food and beverage companies are using more flexible, efficient and responsive technology to get the most from their operations.

Companies that are winning are finding a way to:

  • Launch new products quickly to meet changing market demands
  • Flex operations around rapidly expanding SKU counts and label requirements
  • Manage complexities of evolving channels and routes to market
  • Comply with growing food traceability regulations
  • Optimise workforce and asset utilisation
  • Leverage data to help meet yield, throughput and other productivity goals

So, where do we go from here? Look to the continually evolving world of smart manufacturing and digital transformation.

Realising the factory of the future

Unifying disparate networks, improving visibility and tighter process control are a few benefits a modern digital factory can bring. Digital transformation also provides opportunities to:

  • Follow the flow of ingredients and track yield throughout production
  • Monitor key production areas and use insights to improve operations
  • Respond to supply-chain developments for better on-demand production
  • Manage and help prevent recalls in real time
  • Drive efficiency gains for complex activities like changeovers

In addition, use of advanced technologies like machine learning, digital twins and robotic technology are poised to unlock $72 billion in value in the food and beverage industry. Let’s take a closer look.

Information and connectivity unleashed

Digital transformation is helping the industry uncover actionable data and redefining what manufacturing can be. Companies are benefiting from a holistic view of operations with communication flowing across people, departments and the organisation.

  • The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connects assets and layers information, providing business intelligence and advancing operations.
  • Wireless, mobile and wearable technologies create new ways to communicate, improving collaboration and efficiencies.
  • Scalable analytics turn enterprise-wide data into actionable information for better, faster decision making.
  • A secure network infrastructure based on EtherNet/IP supports seamless, real-time data sharing across your enterprise.

Before you can get the most from these technologies, you must first converge your Information Technology (IT) and operational technology (plant-floor systems) into a single network architecture.

A converged network architecture can simplify how systems operate. With it, production software finds and collects data from embedded sensors, smart machines, drives and other physical devices. This manufacturing intelligence is the foundation for deeper analysis and informed decisions.

Analytics tools convert your raw data into descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive information. When delivered through dashboards, the information can help with everything from production scheduling to preventative maintenance. Flexible analytics tools can address needs across the organisation, from simple monitoring to complex event processing.

  • Machine level: Asset performance and machine health
  • Plant level: Yield trends and failure prediction
  • Enterprise level: Operational conformity and compliance

Drive workforce productivity

One of the biggest hurdles facing the food and beverage industry is a shortage of skilled workers. This means doing more with less and playing catch up instead of planning for the future. In fact, 20% of companies report lower yields and the inability to expand as a direct result of workforce challenges.

There are many things you can do to protect your operations from a shrinking skilled labour pool — from reskilling your current workforce to educating and recruiting the next generation. But one of the most immediate steps you can take is using digital workforce solutions that simplify and enhance your workers’ jobs and make the most of people you already have.

Cybersecurity: From risk to reward

Smart machines, cobots, advanced analytics, mobile access, wireless data sharing, and decentralised plant control enable more efficient, nimble and productive food and beverage operations. They also introduce a broader attack surface to protect.

Just ask the global food producer who lost $84 million from a single cyberattack. No organisation is immune. But the once unwelcome expense of cybersecurity could actually be a competitive advantage. Getting it right can mean more uptime, fewer product recalls, real-time remote support and the bottom-line benefits from more reliable operations.

Some considerations to keep in mind when developing an industrial security program include:

  • Know your vulnerabilities. Begin with a security assessment to identify your risk areas and potential threats.
  • Think holistically. A multilayered approach like defense-in-depth can establish multiple fronts of defense.
  • Be proactive. Go beyond endpoint protection and virus scanners. Hunt out infiltrations before they wreak havoc.
  • Respond to threats. Achieve resolution faster with real-time detection services and active threat management.

For more information, download here.

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