The Industrial Internet of Things, or Industry 4.0, is poised to revolutionize the food and beverage industry along the entire supply chain. Manufacturers that embrace new technologies, processes, and efficiencies pass along the benefits to upstream and downstream suppliers, partners, and buyers. These benefits can take the form of improved transparency, streamlined communications, and faster time-to-market, to name a few.
In 2015, only 13% of food and beverage manufacturers had embraced the Industrial Internet of Things. Today, IIoT technologies are expected to reach a worth of $8.43 billion by 2025.
Here’s a closer look at how manufacturers are putting Industry 4.0 to work:
1. Smart Manufacturing Technologies
Smart manufacturing is a broad concept that includes a number of modern technologies and a reinvention of how humans leverage tech for work. A smart manufacturing suite may include the use of automation, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to name a few. While this isn’t a complete replacement for humans, smart manufacturing stands to tell us things we can’t efficiently or confidently figure out ourselves.
These technologies rely on continuous data collection and analysis. The insights they deliver can range from predicting machine maintenance needs for reducing downtime, to optimizing production runs to increase order capacity and profitability.
Real Company Example: American beer brewer New Belgium digitized their operations and reduced downtime by more than 50%.
2. 3D Printed Prototypes
Technology remains the focus of Industry 4.0 to streamline every aspect of operations, including new product development. Food and beverage companies are finding that 3D printing tools enable a faster prototype development for packaging, thereby reducing research and development time and costs. In addition, companies can 3D print their own machine spare parts in-house to increase production uptimes and avoid unplanned downtime.
Real Company Example: Food and beverage container producer Thermos uses 3D printing to optimize the cap stopper fit and pouring performance of their popular namesake mugs. This reduced the prototype design from multiple days to just a few hours.
3. Specification Data Management
Specification management software is a prime example of how Industry 4.0 will be enabled. It takes the power of modern technologies a step further by helping companies understand, use, and manage the data collected by smart tools and technology.
By managing data at the spec level, for example, companies can track all the iterations of a product in development and ensure the right version goes to production. It also enables a faster, more efficient way to share data with partners throughout the supply chain. All data is centrally stored and accessed and can help to reduce communication errors, streamline traceability, and improve time-to-market.
Real Company Example: Grimmway Farms used specification data management to better control its packaging requirements when expanding its product portfolio.
Industry 4.0 is positioned to transform the food and beverage manufacturers from reactors into predictors. To enable this transition requires a reliable way to collect, analyze, and use key data that will drive top-line growth. Discover more in our latest report: The Future of Food is Specification Data Management.