Automation helping F&B industry scale new heights

 Improvements in industrial automation coupled with a growing demand for packaged food presents a great opportunity for the automation industry. As packaged food fly off the shelves, automation will only have a more important role to play
Modern lifestyle and retail has contributed to the growth of the food and beverage (F&B) industry. The F&B industry is growing steadily. Though, when it comes to packaged food, the industry is dominated by few players. Packaged food such as bakery products, dairy products, canned beverages, aerated drinks and much more are in increasing demand. The F&B industry is also expanding with foreign brands that are coming to India as they see India as a growing market for their products.
The Global Industrial Automation Market research report on the F&B industry 2014-2018 forecasts the global industrial automation market in the F&B industry to grow at 9.37 per cent CAGR over the period 2013-2018.
Growth of F&B industryImprovements in automation have helped the F&B industry to evolve. As there is a demand for packaged food items of several sizes and drinks of several shapes and sizes, much effort goes into designing and packaging of the products. With an increasing focus on design, the storage boxes and containers of several products are being designed keeping in mind the competitive environment created by several foreign brands. Also retail strategies and retailing has added to the admiration and excitement, brands focusing even more on packaging and design. This represents a great opportunity for packaging automation.
A growing industry of F&B is set to spur the growth for automation. Indeed, both F&B and automation will complement each other as developments and innovations continue to happen in both.
Automation in F&B industry has been a topic of interest and still remains when it comes to brands like Coca- Cola, Pepsi and Lays. This is primarily to aid, mass production of food. Several Agro companies also use automation technology to process varieties of rice. Automation technologies are not only limited to large conglomerates but also used by SMEs and SSIs (Small Medium Enterprise and Small Scale Industries). A few years ago, there was reluctance from the food industry to adapt to technology but now that has somehow disappeared and the F&B industry is embracing technology. Today, automation is increasingly penetrating F&B processing space due their user-friendliness.
Automation is doing its wonders for F&B industry Large quantity production of F&B for a large market needs to be ensured. To meet a large supply in order to meet large demand, we require automation machines that allow meeting this demand. The F&B industry is classified into several segments – dairy products, cheese, chocolates, pasteurisation of dairy products, brewing, mixer and cooking. The purpose of automation is to create products that are made to keep up with trends in food industry. Automation helps in a great way to create new products and to create quality products. Research and development in science has helped people to improve quality of life while also helping to reduce costs. Automation technologies with cutting edge innovations are helping the food industry to drive growth. Without automation technologies in place, it is implausible that food production will be able to meet up to demands while keeping up with the quality of food. The food industry has embraced technology, allowing it to become more profitable. The convergence of food technology with automation helped to focus on issues like hygiene and food safety. Companies like Amul Coop, HUL, P&G, SM food, Lays, Nestle and several others are deploying the best automation technologies. Several popular food brands are using these technologies to provide the best products to keep up with the demand. This also allows food companies to increase the production while cutting costs. Automation is being primarily used for production of milk products, chips and bakery products like biscuits. Automation is also being used for sealing soft drink bottles and cans. Thanks to automation, these companies have been able to increase their production and meet the demands.
Also while much of the leading automation technologies for F&B industry have had their inception in the west, a more customised version of the automation is today made for India. Some brands emphasise on the principle “Untouched by hand”, though the concept is not entirely applicable to the Indian food industry.  After studying the Indian market, the players in automation have made these technologies suitable for Indian ecosystem. Much of this is done keeping in mind, the Indian demographics, and consumption patterns. The food industry is very large and consists of several segments. A large number of eateries and food courts too are using automation technology in a big way. For example, automation equipment are used at small stores for dispensing soft drinks and sodas. They are also used when serving ice creams.
Global players in automation for F&B industryGlobal players in automation for F&B industry are ABB, B&R Industrial Automation, Bosch Rexroth, Emerson Process Management, GE Intelligent Platforms, Eurotherm, Invensys Operations Management, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic Electric Works, ProLeiT, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, and Siemens. These are some of the leading players in the market among others.
Eurotherm by Schneider has developed automation technologies for the F&B industry. The automation technologies are run by a computer. The automation technology can also generate reports based on several filters and parameters. The automation machines can set temperatures that are sensitive to the food that is being processed. The automation process is integrated with several features that it takes care of the whole process involved in food production. The automation machines also are accurate and can follow time very accurately. The process can also control pH levels. Several such other features have been integrated and accommodated into the process that allows food to be manufactured according to the needs of the market to which they cater.
Siemens has some innovative solutions for F&B industry. Some of the processes that Siemens follows include ‘Totally Integrated Automation’. Totally Integrated Automation takes care of the product right from production to the ERP level. It is also suitable for the ‘Just in Time’ concept. The automation allows the production of small and large batches all with the press of a button. It is extremely energy efficient. The automation tools allow the user to compile data on the processes. ERP connectivity allows interconnection of the automation level with the management level. Line monitoring system (LMS) allows automatic real-time acquisition and analysis of production of relevant data for continuous optimisation of plant performance. Line visualisation (HMI) allows fast overview of operation-relevant data using pre-configured templates. Line control unit (LCU) ensures optimal line utilisation by coordinating the speeds of all machines. Plant data interface – fast, standardised integration of machines
Kuka provides tailor-made solutions for every requirement. Kuka’s automation systems emphasise on packaging. Kuka’s palletising robots are fast, powerful, compact and cost efficient. Based on their specification, Kuka’s robots can manage a variety of loads.
ABB’s automation solutions give users the advantage of flexible, cost-effective production systems needed to manage your risks and gain the most from today’s trends.
Several automation systems worldwide use and deploy robots in the food industry including MAR Australia. Robots are used in several processes like picking, packaging and labelling. They are guided by a vision sensing system. Large food processing units use expensive automation to produce the best products. Palletising technologies are used to pick all types of cartons. Some palletising technologies are efficient enough to work throughout the day with little time needed for rest.
CRM software is paving a new way for F&B Seema Batavia, Global Brand Manager, Fazlani foods has some interesting points to share on the growth of the F&B industry. Batavia says, “Technology has facilitated the growth of F&B industry. Technology and media have contributed to this growth. New media and technologies have helped companies to understand the tastes of customers. CRM or Customer relationship management software has helped the industry. F&B companies are using these technologies to market their products effectively. Companies are adapting more automated services to streamline their supply chain processes. ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning systems allow the companies to monitor and link their finance, management, and supply chain procedures. It has also helped in better management of human resources. New technologies are allowing companies to diversify their portfolio and tap into new markets, reaching new customers who are interested in trying unique products.”

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