How IIoT Brews Success in the Food and Beverage Industry

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

Explore the role of IIoT in transforming food manufacturing for improved quality and cost-effectiveness. By Emon Zaman, Senior Vice-President, Asia Pacific, AVEVA

Amidst an increasingly competitive landscape, food manufacturers are being challenged to improve competitive prices and deliver value by improving manufacturing quality.

The findings of a recent Euromonitor 2024 study, Key Trends Shaping Food in Asia: 2024 and Beyond, highlights how increasing costs of living are causing consumers to rethink their loyalties to brands, and instead place more emphasis on key factors such as price and nutrition.

As such, for food manufacturers today, the top-of-mind challenge is undoubtedly increasing food production capacity without compromising product quality, all while ensuring productivity and profitability in daily operations.

In this light, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – be it across hardware devices to connected digital systems – seems to hold much potential for Food and Beverage manufacturing. These IIoTs can serve as powerful multipliers, improving food manufacture quality, and output to deliver broader consumer trends for more competitive prices and product value.

Purposeful Incorporation of Technology
In today’s interconnected food systems and economies, food manufacturers are constantly tested to ensure consistent product quality, respond to dynamic customer orders, and increase production capacities and capabilities.

Complexities such as geopolitical tensions, erratic weather affecting seasonal crop production yields, and rising food prices, add new risk factors to existing food manufacturing and supply chains. In response, manufacturers are turning once again to Internet-of-Things technology to fortify their manufacturing processes.

One of our Asia-pacific customers tapped on a manufacturing execution system to build an automation software solution. This was designed to allow for end-to-end monitoring of manufacturing processes. From this, the company improved product traceability and cost savings by bypassing warehousing and manual documentations.

It also achieved 100 percent First-Time Quality, a metric that indicates what parts are manufactured correctly the first time without the need for inspection, rework, or replacement. This too improved food and beverage manufacturing, and brewing quality assurance practices for the entire organisation.

More manufacturers are recognising the benefits of digital solutions that increase efficiency and generate more cost savings through smarter shop floors. These efficiency and savings will have potential.

Likewise, IIoT can ensure real-time monitoring of critical parameters like machine uptime and utilities like compressed air and electrical consumption, while maintaining quality and safety of products.

Enabling Flexibility in Operations
Manufacturers too are seeking greater flexibility from their operations and the ability to alter output from production lines to meet fluctuating levels of demand orders. The agri-tech and aquaculture sector represent another tangible example of IIoT in action.

This sector uses precision-farming methods, which leverages IIoT software and sensors to collect real-time data.

Predictive analytics software then uses the collected data to identify fields that require treatment and determine the optimum amount of water, fertilisers, and pesticides. This ultimately allows farmers and cultivators to reduce resource waste, optimise costs, and minimise impact on the environment.

In 2022, AVEVA and its industry partners organised an industry innovation challenge. The idea was to get students and industry professionals working together – mentored by subject matter experts from leading organisations – to apply industry-standard technology and best practices to solve real-world challenges.

The winning team designed a fish farm management system that iterated better approaches beyond labour-intensive techniques. The system will not only allow fish farmers to automate fish feeding, but it also collects and measures water quality data such as temperature, as well as ammonia and pH levels in real-time over one integrated platform.

This is a showcase on how cultivators should consider new technology-driven approaches beyond traditional farming techniques.

Digitalisation That Benefits All
The food and manufacturing industry has much runway ahead for digital transformation. Yet for manufacturers, investing in IIoT technologies may elicit concerns about practicality, affordability, and returns on investments and could present a host of challenges.

It is essential to understand that the real value of incorporating IIoT goes beyond merely adding measurement widgets and increasing technical sprawl.

Instead, it lies in venturing into the field to understand possible use cases, requirements, and pain points that are hindering food manufacturers from creating options and flexibilities in processes, ensuring they can adapt to more dynamic macroeconomic environments.

The end goal for food manufacturers is to unlock long term value and better meet consumer demands by balancing productivity, profitability, and incremental transformation.