Unlike their peers in the pharmaceutical industry, where less than half of operations measure overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), the vast majority of food processors do measure equipment efficiency, and closely monitor data to make continuous improvements in the plant. In fact, three out of four food processing operations measure OEE, according to a new study, PMMI Business Intelligence: Trends in Food Processing Operations, 2017.
By and large, food processors are relying on their OEMs to make the kinds of machine improvements that they need. “Downtime is usually associated with maintenance problems," noted one survey respondent, a process engineer from the meat/poultry industry. "There is a need for process machinery with more preventive and predictive schedules and self-diagnosis.”
A senior processing specialist for a cheese company said, “We are looking at proprietary predictive and preventive maintenance programs now to reduce downtime.”
For food processors, any upstream issue such as blending flow rates, filter changes, roasting times, cooling, sanitation requirements or slicing inaccuracy can have a negative impact downstream on quality, volume of output, production schedules and product waste.
Food processors are looking to OEMs to deliver greater automation; machine flexibility and quick changeovers for varying materials, sizes and shapes; standardized communication platforms; longer-lasting parts, and more quickly serviceable machines.
Complexity is growing for the industry, with new demands from consumers. “There needs to be a better synchronization between processing and packaging, with the sharing of formulas and recipes for better labeling efficiencies demanded by a rise in organic, non-GMO and gluten-free products,” noted a director of engineering for shelf goods.
PMMI’s OpX Leadership Network has developed tools to help define and compute OEE.
For more on equipment purchase plans, market segment forecasts, etc., download the entire study, PMMI Business Intelligence: Trends in Food Processing Operations, 2017.