Smart factories are considered the future of manufacturing. Advanced technologies and equipment connectivity will herald a new dawn of efficiencies and productivity for operators. Jorge Vitallé, Global Diversey ® Knowledge-based Services Executive Director at Diversey, looks at why food and beverage companies shouldn’t be waiting for the future.
With high market saturation and strong competition between retailers and the continued rise of the discounters and emergence of the everyday low pricing model, European processors are under increased pressure to increase production whilst maintaining profitability and cost efficiency. Food and Drink Europe’s Economic Bulletin 2016 showed year-on- year growth in EU food and drink production of 1.6 percent. If processors are to increase profits alongside these production rises, they need to ensure new efficiencies are vigorously chased, and rigorously implemented.
The future is now
The smart factory concept has given rise to a host of optimism, excitement and the inevitable buzzwords. There’s much talk about the Industrial Internet, Industry 4.0, self-learning robots and equipment that talks to each other. This buzz is fuelled by predictions about a future of even leaner manufacturing processes and better, more continuous improvement.
Such operational improvements will be generated through integrating equipment and digital communications. Smart factories will be defined by connectivity, which enables the ongoing collection of equipment performance data and diagnostics. This will present operators with real-time information that allows for the most advanced predictive maintenance and the ability to continuously maximise efficiencies. For food and beverage companies, this can mean improved levels of food safety, quality control and productivity.
With so much talk about what will be possible, it can be easy to miss the most important point about smart factories; that they are fast becoming a reality. Rather than simply looking to the future, food and beverage companies should be reviewing production lines now to identify how processes can be optimised through more informed data analytics.
Taking steps now will enable operators to start improving productivity immediately. Better still, it will ensure they are prepared to reap the full benefits of equipment connectivity when smart factories become commonplace across industry during the next decade. Reports are already highlighting that ‘Industry 4.0’ - the advances in intelligent connectivity and automation technologies including smart factories – presents an opportunity for a major productivity step change for the food industry.
A holistic approach needs to be taken to system and process performance, with key metrics for measurement clearly defined. To achieve this, Diversey has identified critical areas in food and beverage plants where monitoring and measuring can optimise performance. This underpins a new range of services; Diversey Knowledge-based Services, covering areas spanning Open Plant
Cleaning (OPC), Clean-In- Place (CIP), lubrication systems, filler cleaning, bottle washers, water usage, yield improvement, air systems and steam generators. Performance is measured against five key operational pillars including; productivity, water, energy, yield, and, food safety, with each area measured against all pillars relevant to that process or metric. The information is analysed using custom algorithms based on Diversey’s experience of working with leading food and beverage processors around the globe as well as industry benchmarks.
Connectivity and technology today
Existing technology such as spectrophotometers and traditional sensors already have the ability togather meaningful data during CIP. This is an area of operation that can prove unnecessarily time and resource intensive for food and beverage operators.
Once collected, information can be relayed via secure cloud based gateways and analysed against modelled scenarios. This creates greater visibility of the whole CIP process, enabling inefficient cleaning practices to be identified, corrected and continuously monitored. And, importantly, this can eliminate over-cleaning objects, while also reducing water and chemical solution usage during the wash cycle.
Similar to CIP, data gathered can predict when an error may occur across each of the critical hygiene areas. Performance can be monitored and potential errors addressed remotely, with operators able to implement proactive changes to avoid system failures. Unscheduled downtime can be reduced and line operation schedules better planned.
Field trials have shown Diversey Knowledge-based Services to save over 166,000m3 of water usage at a large beverage producer, generate reductions in OPC labour and time of between 25% - 36% for a potato manufacturer and reduce almost 9 million kilograms of steam per year at a brewery. As well as boosting profitability, these savings can significantly contribute towards a company’s sustainability goals.
Every piece of equipment has the potential to become a data centre, connected to a central hub that can be monitored remotely Performance data will be accessed in real-time, providing highly accurate and reliable information. This can be used to enhance production capacity and capability, reduce downtime and ensure efficient cleaning.
Although smart factories are still evolving, next generation sensors and fibre optic data transfer capabilities along with quick-paced advances in technology will soon change the face of today’s factories. We are constantly evolving our range of Diversey Knowledge-based Services. Leveraging increasing connectivity we can work with food and beverage processors to fully capitalize on opportunities to optimize performance. With diagnostics becoming increasingly predictive operators are better placed than ever to take proactive steps to safeguarding productivity and profitability.