What do you think about when you are shopping?
Are you the kind of person who knows exactly what they want and sticks precisely to the shopping list?
Or do you like to browse a bit, think of recipes as you wander around and hum along to the music being piped cheerfully into the store?
Maybe you shop with family and it’s a constant test of patience with the kids asking for sweet things that won’t do them much good.
Or maybe you go with your partner and laugh when you reach the till because they sneaked in some of those new chocolate biscuits after all.
Whatever kind of shopper you are, the chances are you won’t really have seen much difference in the supermarket shopping experience for many years.
From my point of view, this is the sign of a very mature market. In manufacturing terms, it’s not like the electric vehicle market, for example, where new production techniques are being rapidly developed and deployed to offer new technologies to new appetites or legislation.
It’s not (yet) like the pharmaceutical industry where new legislation means that everything must be tracked and traced from origin to point of sale in various ways.
Food and beverage manufacture is a bit like a duck swimming across a pond – it all looks calm, but beneath the surface is all action as its little feet are paddling away furiously to make progress.
That new chocolate biscuit might not seem a huge leap forward to the average consumer, but it is an insight to modern F&B manufacture. The biggest companies need to compete for your (and your partner’s) attention – they need to create special flavours or offer different sizes, seasonal specials and new product innovation.
To keep their place in the shopping cart in a globalising and incredibly competitive market, they need to be flexible. They need to do short runs of production that are just as secure as their other products. They need batch consistency, low downtime and quick product changeovers; no recalls that could result in instant, disastrous PR.
Most of all they need to know exactly what is happening at every point in the manufacturing process. They need to achieve much more from what they have in terms of plant equipment; yield up, efficiency up, waste down.
And the digitisation of F&B manufacture that makes this possible is in full swing. Every time you see a new flavour, a new size, or a new product from a trusted brand, you are seeing progress in action.
For us at Rockwell Automation, as advocates of The Connected Enterprise approach that is helping many household name brands achieve so much more from their plants, it’s a new challenge with every manufacturer.
For manufacturers it’s not just about technology, such as our new generation motion solutions. It’s also about changing cultures and processes that have been around for a long time in order to leverage the opportunity of IIoT.
The rate of change is such that, although the consumer might not see much difference by the time a product gets to the supermarket aisle, companies not looking at how analytics and IIoT technologies can help them kick on are falling behind.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how the top companies are benefitting from the evolution, download our new ebook or you can meet us at Anuga FoodTech in Hall 10.1 Stand C008 D009 and experience The Connected Enterprise in action in the food and beverage market for yourself.