In recent years, automation has been a vital component in developing food and beverage manufacturing systems. With high regulatory standards to uphold and typically narrow margins to work with, more and more manufacturers are turning to automation to solve these problems while streamlining processes at the same time. But why is this so?
Here are the benefits that automation provides for the food and beverage industry:
One of the primary reasons why many food & beverage manufacturers turn to companies like John Henry Foster is that automation increases efficiency by a tenfold. Automated systems have long since surpassed the speed of which human workers perform, and with only minimal downtime for maintenance and power outages. With computerized tasks in place, more human operators can be designated tasks that cannot be done by a machine, thus increasing workplace efficiency even further.
Easier quality control
Quality control is one of the most crucial aspects of food and beverage production. It prevents defects that can have potentially devastating effects on the company’s reputation when the product makes it to store shelves. While using human operators for quality control have been the standard in the food and beverage industry for many years, automation has proved to be as equally or even more effective than human QC. With automation systems in place, product errors can be identified and isolated faster, preventing defective products from entering the market.
Another benefit of automation in the food & beverage industry is improved worker safety. With automation and machine vision working together, manufacturers will be able to adapt to modified safety standards quickly. Apart from that, automation provides better control over dangerous tasks, thus reducing the risk for human workers. With improved safety, food and beverage manufacturers can also expect to decrease expenses in maintenance and claims.
Automation, combined with analytics tools, can enhance end-to-end traceability by tracking products through the entire manufacturing process. Traceability is crucial in the food and beverage industry. It allows manufacturers to trace problems to its root, isolating the specific batch that is faulty and retrieving it before it causes more potential issues. That said, enhanced end-to-end traceability helps companies reduce compliance costs and use the data to improve processes further, which helps reduce the risk of repeating the fault in the future.
With automated systems in place, food and beverage manufacturers can easily make modifications in their processes in line with changing compliance regulations and production demands. Since machines are being used instead of human workers, training and adjustment are no longer necessary to put these changes in place. Moreover, these changes, when made with automation, will not result in unexpected consequences in other aspects of the production line.
An automated machine will run the same way every time it is used, which, unlike human-based operations, leaves no room for errors. By eliminating the possibility of human error, the consistency of food and beverage products will be maintained. As a result, consumers will enjoy the product with the same flavor, texture, quality, and other pertinent characteristics, leading to more positive feedback.
A product recall, a defective product that’s gone viral on social media, and inconsistent product qualities: all of these things can be devastating to a brand’s reputation, depending on the gravity of the situation. The benefits we have mentioned above all help protect a manufacturer’s name. To illustrate:
- Improved quality control allows manufacturers to isolate the defective batch before it reaches the marketplace and the end consumer
- Enhanced traceability allows for better damage control by identifying the faulty batch and retrieving it; this also helps manufacturers improve their processes to prevent mistakes in the future
- Improved consistency allows the end consumer to experience the product in the exact same way every time
Enhanced personnel safety, better brand protection, and increased operations efficiency, and other benefits of automation all contribute to reduced costs. While automated systems require a significant initial investment, manufacturers will get to reap the benefits and reduce operating costs in the long run, which, in turn, can lead to further improvement of operations or passing on the savings to end consumers.
The food and beverage industry is just one of the many sectors that highly benefit from automation. While automated systems might seem like a luxury today, they will soon become necessary as technology progresses further and the customer demands continue to grow. For manufacturers on the fence about investing in this type of technology, the benefits highlighted above should be enough to warrant a deeper interest in automation.