The need for an improved global automation infrastructure and better plant security measures is changing how food and beverage manufacturers are planning their facility operations, according to ARC's new Food and Beverage Industry Automation Worldwide Outlook released Wednesday.
Even though many of the leading food manufacturers already have very automated facilities, they still are aware of the need for deploying more process automation systems, from automation software, to plant floor control hardware, and using more international automation standards and best practices.
Past and current consolidations in the food manufacturing industry has fostered a focus on standardizing common, enterprise-wide financial systems with global deployment of these business systems from both large and small technology suppliers, the report noted.
Many of the larger food and beverage manufacturing companies are specifying adherence to the ANSI/ISA-95 (ISO/IEC 62246) standard for enterprise to control system integration.
This helps to define the types of data to be exchanged between the business and production systems, and is a key part of factory floor control design.
It is important to keep both the ANSI/ISA-95 (ISO/IEC 62246) and the ANSI/ISA-88 (ISO/IEC 61512) under consideration as factory floor level automation is “built out” to support a more highly automated and information driven system that uses minimal manual data entry, the report suggested.
“Food manufacturing firms are able to use this new automation to meet the changing demands of a growing and increasingly diverse population and consumers’ demands for pre-processed foods,” said Asish Ghosh, author of the ARC outlook.
Although food safety will always be a top priority for food manufacturers, food security issues such as plant security and anti-counterfeit packaging must also be of concern, the report noted.
Packaging operations play an important part in in ensuring food quality, safety, and security. While highly-automated packaging machines are in operation in most food manufacturing facilities, many of the labeling and inspection jobs are still accomplished in manual and semi-manual open loop systems. Because of this, allergen mislabeling and non-readable date and bar codes are still occurring.
But as “continuous quality verification” systems in packaging operations are becoming a business and regulatory requirement, these manual systems are being replaced with more automated closed loop systems that ensure accuracy, reduce returns and recalls, and improve the assurance of food quality, safety, and security, the report concluded.