Siemens: F&B manufacturers are slow to embrace IoT and Industry 4.0 demands

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: Siemens. The company is encouraging manufacturers to embrace IoT & Industry 4.0.
Picture credit: Siemens. The company is encouraging manufacturers to embrace IoT & Industry 4.0.

Related tags: Manufacturing, Uk

Food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers are slow to meet the rising demand in digitalization and adapt their machines to customized packaging, according to Siemens.

With an increase in IoT (Internet of Things​) and Industry 4.0, (where digital technology can optimize productivity) the company has launched the Multi-Carrier-System (MCS) in partnership with Festo, which enables multiple customized packaging types to be carried out on the same line.

PPMA Total Show

Keith Thornhill

The line will be debuted in the UK at the PPMA Total Show September 27-29 at Birmingham NEC. 

Keith Thornhill, business manager UK & Ireland, Food & Beverage, Siemens, told DairyReporter the internet is changing everything.

Everybody in their daily life is surrounded by their mobile phones. Manufacturing is catching up with the ability to receive and send data out immediately. They understand the world isn’t ‘fixed’ to one set type and everybody expects something different, tailored to their individual needs​,” he said.

Unfortunately, a lot of production lines don’t allow for that and either over produce or under produce. MCS allows them to customize products at a flexible, fast pace for things such as product labels for one-off sporting events​.

For example, with this machinery you can react in situ to an event, so if a French tennis player wins Wimbledon it has the ability to send out a product the next day to reflect that. It’s an extremely powerful tool to have at your fingertips, before, manufacturers couldn’t get the data through the system in time and production wasn’t mobile enough​.

Data is important but you need the technology to back it up​.”

According to Thornhill, future F&B manufacturing will center around a ‘made to order’ model, selling products according to current trends. There will be massive changes in waste reduction, more efficiency and only producing what you need to produce because of the available data, and transparency across the supply chain.

'Big data' will influence intelligent decision making

Manufacturers will turn what he defines as ‘big data’ into continuous improvement and intelligent decision making.

The IoT, Industry 4.0 and digital enterprise is all well and good but if the manufacturing itself is rigid and doesn’t allow you to change a product quickly or what you’re producing quickly, innovation is at a standstill​,” he added.

Thornhill joined Siemens in 2001 as a business development manager in the Siemens Motion Control group and now focuses on innovation for UK packaging machinery manufacturers, operational efficiency and production flexibility for the F&B and consumer packaged goods market.

He said Siemens is looking to get orders for MCS across Europe and the US and in the UK after the PPMA Total Show, claiming the technology ‘offers a different mindset of what you can do with different variations on the machine to be more agile.’

For example, the packaging format for a smoothie drink might be different from one retailer to the next so manufacturers have to stop and reconfigure the line to produce the next slightly different batch​,” added Thornhill.

With MCS you can configure the various design changes into the technology so that you have control of every single pack and product origin through the product line​.

Each program can start and stop using a specific filler, labeller, cap or pack, depending on how it goes down the production line. It provides ultimate flexibility to carry out ‘made to order’ products without changing, or downtime on machinery because the production line is designed with modularity​.”

According to Siemen’s, ‘Industry 4.0’ is the technology behind the 4th​ industrial revolution vision and has been proactively adopted by the German government to drive a manufacturing revolution in that country.

The potential of digital technologies to use vast data volumes lies at the heart of technology that has the potential to enable manufacturers to produce a batch size of one - but at mass market prices. 

It will allow for the customization of all manner of consumer and industrial products to meet market demand, made possible via flexible, highly connected and intelligence-led manufacturing processes.

The German government recognizes the potential of digital technology within a manufacturing environment and is encouraging and supporting its manufacturing base to invest accordingly.

Thornhill said companies that tap into the ‘4th​ industrial revolution vision’ are going to be the leaders of the future.

If they grasp this idea of what is possible and start to invest in this type of technology they will be able to buy into this idea of what people want right now​,” he added.

There is a big battle to reduce waste, and 4.0 technology allows for this idea of not just individualizing loaves of bread but having more control of the data to do that, i.e. smart sensors to automate processes that don’t stop and start but work continuously for efficiency gains.​”

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