Industry 4.0’s impact on the Food & Beverage industry
Automation solutions are driving, or will shortly, F&B companies towards a digitalization of processes as formalized by the concept of Industry 4.0.
The food industry, the second largest Italian manufacturing industry and an increasingly strong reference for Made in Italy.
The attention to the sustainability of automation, in this sector, is even higher than in other production sectors. There is a great propensity for innovation but always closely linked to attention to the quality levels of the finished product. The good name of our food industry is based on this: very high quality in both products and machinery for food processing. Definitely a heritage that must be preserved with sustainable innovation.
Production efficiency as a challenge
Food & Beverage has always made use of machines with a high rate of automation and the best technologies available on the market. By bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds, the Industrial IoT ushers in a new era of efficiency, growth and information by giving companies a clear vision of critical assets and production processes. What previously required analogue equipment and cumbersome procedures can now be accomplished with a growing number of digital and cloud-based solutions.
Adding intelligence to machines offers the opportunity to implement a predictive maintenance strategy – the ability to predict problems and plan rather than react to maintenance needs. The challenge focuses on production efficiency rather than pure performance, except in special cases, and fortunately new digital technologies and unprecedented connectivity are providing the tools for this achievement. Right now most companies are still in the Proof of Concept stage, they are making investments in that direction because they sense its potential, but the value proposition must first be demonstrated. In fact, in the F&B sector, the ability of machines to self-manage, thanks to artificial intelligence, and to automatically modify processes will be increasingly crucial to optimize activities and costs.
Intelligent and distributed automation solutions
The F&B sector is particularly competitive and dynamic, and thanks to the ideas of innovation deriving from the concepts of the smart factory, the companies supplying capital goods and the users of these technologies are investing in order to diversify from a competitive point of view, both in the international market and in the domestic one. In order to innovate and respond to fast format changes, fast and reliable troubleshooting, productivity taken to the extreme, network interconnection, which are just some of the requests that F&B machine manufacturers meet every day, companies must make the use of the machines is flexible, also by making the operators work with intelligent and distributed automation solutions, which guarantee the movement of the axes even with open guards with the safe control of the speed and of the stationary axis state, just to name an example.
About the Author
Antonio Conati Barbaro, COO, Alleantia. Looking to the ‘next big thing’, Internet of Things, since 2006, Antonio jumped at the Alleantia IIoT opportunity, joining founder Stefano Linari in the company launch and growth since 2011.