Imagine a factory where robots are trained like humans, equipment breakdowns are fixed before they happen, and large product varieties are streamlined at the same time – and completely automated. Believe it or not, this futuristic manufacturing isn’t a page from science fiction. It’s what factory manufacturing in the future will actually look like, and it’s here sooner than you think. Adapting your facility to these changes is a wise move to survive in the food manufacturing competition. Let’s take a look at these remarkable innovations in greater detail.
You may have heard about the Internet of Things, a current point in our technology that has made the “smart home” possible. Doorbells with live video streaming, thermostats that are controlled by your faraway smartphone, and voice-activated systems are all items that are connected to the internet thanks to cloud and smartphone software. Smart home technology has also made its way into the food industrial world and is known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT). With this futuristic manufacturing capability, food factory infrastructures can be more intuitive and proactive in daily business rather than reactive and cumbersome.
One such example is predictive repair maintenance. A digital model ‘copy’ of the factory machine is stored as data in a factory cloud drive. The digital copy keeps track of the physical machine’s ‘health’ by making sophisticated approximations of when and where certain parts may wear out or no longer function. In this way, maintenance is performed on an as-needed basis instead of an inflexible schedule that can inhibit productivity. The virtual predictive repair maintenance is also proactive instead of reactive, which is safer and can save on more costly repairs down the road.
While some may see smart-connected food factory manufacturing as a security risk, it is actually safer. The truth is that most factories at this stage of the game are connected to the internet in some way or the other, but many of these programs are outdated. Studies show that factory robotics with outdated software are much more likely to be attacked by cybercriminals because they are connected to a public IP address and have many exposed programming loopholes. Food factory robots connected with secure smart technology, on the other hand, are only connected to a private IP address within the company. This ensures that the behavior of food factory equipment is predictable and therefore safer for present factory employees.
Futuristic manufacturing of food is naturally more productive since more sophisticated software can be programmed to streamline a greater variety of products that meet stringent consumer demands, such as products that call for many ingredients or specific dietary restrictions such as vegan and food allergies. Thanks to this sophistication, it is also simpler to train the robots than in the past. Smart robot training is almost as simple as a human, which in turn saves more on time and lengthy programming.
In short, the Industrial Internet of Things is not something to be feared but embraced in our world of food manufacturing. It’s an exciting time when mass food production can become even better, faster, cleaner, safer and ultimately healthier than before. It improves both the lives of consumers and the factory workers who take pride in making quality food products. Upcoming changes in the future will include:
Has your maintenance program alerted you to replace a part? Contact us today at Newark Wire for all your straining and wire cloth needs. We’ll keep you up to date on the latest in food manufacturing!