The food processing facilities have been empowered by IIoT with its unprecedented entrance to real-time data. The technology is new in this industry, and hence many food manufacturers are still trying to learn about the capabilities and the benefits it can provide them.
FREMONT, CA: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has a revolutionizing effect on the food and beverage industry. The industry is witnessing more motors, connected sensors, and controllers than ever before. The technology is used in various innovative ways for processing and informing operational decisions. There are four dominant quarters of a food plant where IIoT technology is mainly used and has successfully impacted it.
1. Food Safety
Preventing recalls of food is essential for the health of the consumers and the company's reputation. Today, IIoT technology can stop food recalls as it will prevent the rotten products from even leaving the facility. The food company has to set up the system correctly with the right sensors and data collection points.
For example, a facility producing sauce has to have the correct temperature to make sure that all the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and other regulatory requirements are fulfilled. Earlier, it was not possible to identify the bad batches quickly as everything had to be done manually.
The internet-connected sensors can calculate all the time and temperature set points in real-time and will instantly send a warning if the criteria are not met. The technologies not only save time and money but also reduce the risk of rotten products from leaving the facility. Therefore, with the IIoT, it has become easier to detect food safety issues and deal with them internally.
The product can also benefit from a well-connected food plant because it will help improve consistency and accuracy in the quality of the manufactured items. In recent years, it has become possible to store product recipes and procedures on a single server, which is sent to all the companies' processing facilities. This process helps maintain the consistency of the product, regardless of where it is produced.
Based on its program, the machine knows how to run a particular recipe, along with its ingredients and timings. The technology also helps the company to set a quality benchmark by staying transparent to their customer as they can mention the proper cooking time and temperature of the product. The plant using IIoT can be remotely monitored and controlled, improving the recipe accuracy as well as product uniformity.
When it is about packaging, a company always wants to maximize its revenue. A company can make its packaging more efficient if the food plant is well-connected. The sensors on packaging equipment are programmed in such a way that it will understand the expectation of the SKU. The tools will verify the type of packaging that is being used for different products and instantly stop the procedure if they find any discrepancy. In the traditional method, if any operator runs the wrong product in the wrong packaging film, it would take time to detect the mistake, resulting in wastage of product and packaging.
An IIoT based plant also has their labeling parameters, instead of the operator typing all information manually, it is sent to the inter-connected tools. This reduces operator error on not only the floor but also the employees can focus on validating whether the computer is running the correct label or not.
The technology of IIoT is making the food plant employees more connected to their work rather than making it monotonous for them. The staff members, now, can easily understand the various processes of the facility due to the unprecedented data provided by the sensors and software.
The machines also notify the employees if anything is wrong with the product or its packaging, which helps them to do a better job.
Many food plants have started the usage of IIoT technology, but still, a lot has to be achieved to make its presence in every plant. This technology has a lot of potential that will impact the food manufacturing industry.