Innovation in Food Processing Plants
I think the introduction of robotics has the potential to challnege the traditional view of linear produciton processing facilities, and with the integration of the internet of things, the interconnectivity can anhance efficiency, reduce production errors, enhance food safety and at the same time enhance flexibility.
Food Processing industry has seen few of the following technology enablers which helped to move reduce cost of processing food plants.
- Faster and Well connected Transports: Air, Rail and Surface tecnology advancement as well as infrastrucuter investment in technology has made it possible to reduce time required to reach to market/customer as well as increase in shelf life of the product. It increased the customer base in the same operational costs due to optimised logistics.
- RFID based supply chain tracking using SCM software improves movement and forecasting thus results in cost reduction.
- Plastic has helped lot to reduce cost of transport in terms of product packaging , transport weight, large size of consignment. Tetra Pack and Suchets have changed the way food can be prepared, transported as well as stacked at shops so improving entire supply chain of food processing and it's final output product to the end customers ( Even customers gets benefited to carry, use and dispose safely).
- Integrated Machines at plants or semi processed food ingredients at customer service outlets have helped to deliver the product faster and retain nutrient values. Robo and Robotics have started showing impact for e.g. SoftBank in Japan has Pizza delivered to customers as well as taking orders.
- Future prospects such as Intelligent Integratd Refrigerators ( Zigbee/Zwave based with IoT platform), Containers with IoT sensors sensing usage pattern of food consumed will bring another data stream back to food processing plants to gather and process these data points to AI + ML engine to churn our food preference , demand and supply parameters for food items. With IoT being seen as Internet 4.0 so such it can be Food Manufacturing 4.0
I believe the biggest improvements have come / are to come from a combination of technology and process:
As stated by @Steve, Industry 4.0 is a game-changer.
However, the reality seems to be that most companies still have opportunities to improve Automation (Industry 3.0) even before moving to the interconnected-ness and IoT in Industry 4.0.
Moving FROM process optimization within the manufacturing units in isolation TO full value stream integration and optimization from raw material to customer / end-user.
An interesting and potentially broadly impactful innovation would be the digitalization of plant capacity via technology and improved third party manufacturing flexibilty. For example, a system like uber, airbnb, lift, to utilize tolling capacity to create more flexible manufacturing scenario. Clearly quality has to be a given in the process.