The Internet of Things (IIoT) has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for a huge variety of industrial applications including food and beverage manufacturing, alongside countless others. The Internet of Things relates to several networked devices that gather and convey data via the internet, communicating messages between technology, infrastructure, and machinery, alongside human operatives.
With a wide range of sensors now available, and an even wider range of software solutions for use within a factory environment, the possibilities of IIoT for the food industry are nearly endless. IIoT works to transform your food manufacturing network on every level, from the raw materials used in the factory to delivering a finished product to consumers.
Benefits of IIoT in the food and beverage industry
The implementing IIoT in the food supply chain works to trim down waste, reduce costs, and minimise risk throughout the production process; delivering superior levels of traceability, food safety, and accountability.
How IIoT is improving food manufacturing;
With a variety of sensors available in the market, there is an option available to provide real-time temperature data and monitor production state to ensure effective cold chain management for consistent food safety standards. By being able to remotely monitor the state of food throughout the production process, and within the storage process; this real-time information will, in turn, reduce food waste.
Radio Frequency Identification Transmitters, also known as RFID, and GPS systems within the manufacturing process and distribution chain enable producers to monitor their goods throughout the entire shopping and storage process. This enables better response rates to market requirements to reduce wastage and degree surplus amounts with supreme visibility into the supply chain.
In conjunction with this, IIoT also delivers traceability and transparency throughout the global supply chain, which will not only lead to improved inventory management, cost savings, and faster lead times but can also have an impact on consumer loyalty and trust with a guaranteed supply chain.
We all know that most maintenance is preventative or reactive, but very rarely predictive, using remote monitoring devices that are IIoT compatible, factories and industrial applications can respond more vigilantly and negate issues altogether by responding to potential issues ahead of time, thereby saving your business time and money.
What are the challenges faced by the food and beverage industry, that can be assisted by IIoT?
It is widely accepted that the food and beverage manufacturing industry required speed of production and volume of products to be profitable. The data gathered by interconnected IIoT devices offers analysis and optimisation opportunities that can enable the machines used in the production of food, or drink, to self-regulate and interact with other machines to optimise the production process.
With this in mind, there is very little need for human interaction within the production process, as data no longer needs to be understood and organised by workers into actionable insights, but can be leveraged immediately by the machine. Which, given that a large number of skilled workers within this sector are now approaching retirement age, helps to fill the skill gap.
How IIoT works at each stage of the production process
- Raw material and inventory control – sensors and devices within the production process work to ensure sufficient stock and can automatically order new supplies as needed. Innovative sensor use reduces waste by tracking demand and only ordering as required, eliminating waste.
- Factory operations and machine conditions – sensors within a machine can give feedback to engineers and machine manufacturers on the amount of wear and tear that a machine is experiencing. This allows workers to understand when maintenance is needed, therefore eliminating the need for routine checks or downtime.
- Quality control – sensors within a manufacturing process can eliminate the need for recalls by detecting faults within the production process and continually improving the process as a whole.
- Product delivery & packaging – IIoT delivers a solution to the issue of goods being damaged in transit. Sensors inside trucks and other infrastructure systems can detect issues and degradation of packaging and products.
How is IIoT improving food manufacturing processes?
The Internet of Things consistently works to deliver improved processes across several manufacturing sectors, including food and beverage manufacturing. By implementing technology, such as smart thermostats, manufacturers can be sure that temperature-sensitive items will not get too cold or hot and potentially become a health hazard.
In conjunction with this, inventory sensors in combination with pressure-sensitive sensors ensure that you will always know when a new food order must be placed, taking the guesswork out of inventory management.
Gone are the days of going out on foot or in a tractor to physically inspect the land and the crops. Drones can quickly fly over miles of farmland, capturing photos and videos of the crops in real-time, enabling farmers to quickly spot any problems.
By collecting this information from the ground, it enables the farmer to address the problem and alter its course before it leads to a shortage. In connection with this, farmers are using an abundance of digital tools to manage their fields and condition of their crops, including critical performance data that will affect their yield in coming months.
By looking for trends in the farming process, farmers can make sure that they’re using their fields to the best of their abilities to generate the highest yield, and prevent wastage or underproduction.