Automation is hitting the food and beverage packaging industry hard, with a recent report from the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies revealing half of the companies it surveyed substantially increasing plant automation over the next three to five years. That said, those surveyed admitted that while they knew automation had to be adopted, they didn’t know where to begin when it came to implementation of robotics, automation, or ERP software.
Advances in agriculture, food, and beverage processing automation and robotics technologies have been drastically changing how these industries operate. The benefits to progress these technologies provide are too numerous and too significant to ignore. However, the trend is at odds with the very nature of these industries, which are among of the most highly controlled and restrictive in the world. This is one of the main reasons these manufacturers have only now been able to build momentum in modernizing operations.
Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at EU Automation attributes the shift to the decrease in implementation costs as well as improved performance provided by more refined technologies in the sector. These manufacturers are ready to adopt new technology now that it has been proven to offset the rising costs of raw materials and the energy required in production.
Advice From The Experts
Nigel Smith, CEO of industrial robotics specialist firm TM Robotics, has some choice advice for food and beverage manufacturers looking to adapt their operations alongside the rapidly changing manufacturing landscape. By incorporating the latest in robotics and advanced automation technology these enterprises can improve performance and overall value. Smith highlights a few key factors that will boost potential ROI and minimize the headaches associated with integrating new systems into an existing infrastructure.
Plan With Purpose
No two systems are the same. Whether canning kombucha or creating ready-made meals on an assembly line, assessing the specific needs of your operation prior to implementation is essential. The right robots and associated hardware to compliment them will make or break your automation efforts. The software powering the backend is an often-overlooked element to consider, as well. Operating systems for your robotic workforce, trained human counterparts, and ERP software all come together to create a manufacturing floor working with precision, driving productivity and optimizing operations. Once the creation of goods is complete, what about distribution and order fulfillment? additional components of the sales cycle come into play long after your goods are packaged and ready to go. The right technology to compete in a modern distribution environment is essential, as well.
When it comes to installation, designers and consultants need to think beyond the process, like their manufacturer, to understand the importance of consistency, compliance, and presentation. Partnering with the right system integrators and ERP consultants and managed services can make or break manufacturers’ modernization efforts.
Once you’ve completed the broad strokes of selection, you’ll need to zero-in on the supplementary components of your plan to really drive ROI.
Let’s say you’ve got the SCARA machines to pick and place ingredients for each batch in your process, but do you know which grippers to use to ensure minimal damage of those ingredients? What about the right vision system to properly identify those ingredients or potential defects? Calibration is another key component that needs to be considered and deemed precise when handling products to ensure waste is kept to a minimum. These details are exactly why food and beverage manufacturers looking to modernize should work with experienced and reputable integrators and consultants to bring operations up to competitive pace.
About Encompass Solutions
Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Platinum Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.