New Report Forecasts Food and Beverage Challenges

In the global food and beverage industry, manufacturers are moving fast to implement flexible operational workflows and, at the same time, move towards standardized processes to optimize production levels and meet growing data requirements from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Food processing photo source: http://www.mainepointe.com/food-processing-manufacturing-0/
Food processing photo source: http://www.mainepointe.com/food-processing-manufacturing-0/

ARC Advisory Group’s latest food and beverage five-year market analysis examines safety considerations, but also how packaging is a key differentiator and social networking is influencing corporate information systems. The new report predicts that automation expenditures in the food and beverage industry are expected to reach $7 billion by 2016.

“The information architecture for the food and beverage industry is extending its reach all the way to the consumer by way of social networks and a new generation of 3D virtual online shopping and online product customization tools,” says John Blanchard, principal analyst for the CPG industries, ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com).  “It is becoming an important solution in the drive toward mass customization, and has begun to change the way consumer-facing business is conducted.”

For 2012, the report pointed to moderate growth for the $630 billion food and beverage industry due to global economic conditions, government inertia, changing consumer purchasing patterns and tightening budgets. One bright spot for growth in 2012 included the organic sector, where growth hit 8 percent versus just 1 percent for non-organic food and beverage products. The continuing organic trend shows that consumer are willing to pay more for “safe” food, due its much smaller supply chain and fewer artificial ingredients.

Blanchard says food and beverage manufacturers have similar business strategies and the war will be won in how well companies execute these strategies with automation technology in key areas.

Operational processes, due to mergers and acquisitions in the last 10 years, and data management in plants both have been challenges in this heavily-regulated industry. In a related webinar, Charlie Giffords, chairman of ISA 95 working group, said that the food industry has moved away from a paper-based operation environment more quickly than he would have originally thought.

“Ten years ago I would not have bet on the food industry being this advanced with their data management acumen. The brewing industry has become especially good at managing their data and moving it up the enterprise,” says Giffords.

The ARC report also provides a section on key strategic issues: market potential and size for automation products and systems; leading and key suppliers in this vertical industry sector; market size in various world regions; and strategies for suppliers and manufacturers to be successful in a low-margin industry so dependent upon product, packaging and manufacturing innovation.

A white paper (http://bit.ly/WTETkw) from Invensys Operations Management delves into flexible operational workflows and standardization for the food and beverage industry. “Be Ready for Changing Tastes—A New Approach to Plant Software” cites continuous improvement and agility as being needed to pass along best practices across a globally distributed value chain. A case study from the Pepsi Bottling Ventures (PBV) plant in Garner, N.C., displays how this plant moved away from a paper-based system and implemented the Wondeware System Platform and Performance Software for one new production line and four existing lines.

At PBV, the new electronic data entry system for operators allows management to measure machine performance in a more accurate manner and make better supply chain decisions. The date entry system also provides visualization throughout the plant.

Real-time production data appears in employee breakrooms on large, flat-screen displays. A PBV spokesman says that “workers are paying attention to what is happening on their lines, even while on break, and they know whether they are ahead of schedule or behind. This motivates them to continually monitor their line efficiencies and make adjustments as necessary to meet their goals.”

>> Grant Gerke, grantgerke@gmail.com, is a Contributing Writer for Automation World

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