BY ALEX CLERE
AT DRINKTEC, GERMANY
As with many food and drink trade shows in the past year or so, companies are keen to Drinktec their latest moves towards Industry 4.0.
The food manufacturing environment is becoming increasingly digitalised, and previously separate stages of the filling and bottling process are being integrated to improve space efficiency and make the entire process smoother.
Earlier in the week, Sidel – part of the Tetra Laval Group – demonstrated their so-called Agility 4.0, which can help beverage manufacturers with Sidel’s machines in plant to intelligently predict maintenance needs and not only extend, but improve, the lifetime of each PET filler.
The company’s Agility 4.0 tools are built around five key pillars: the virtual factory, the smart factory, the connected factory, the sustainable factory, and the extended factory.
It follows very much in the steps of Tetra Pak – another Tetra Laval Group company – which demonstrated its partnership with Microsoft and its Industry 4.0 capabilities at Hannover Messe earlier in the year.
Sidel, like Tetra Pak, will also begin introducing augmented reality (AR) headsets into its customers’ manufacturing plants in order to help remote engineers to diagnose and rectify faults with machines as they happen.
But the focus here in the Messe is very much on preventing breakdowns before they occur, as that is the only way that machinery suppliers can reduce costly outages for their clients.
On a tour of Krones’ space, we saw their in-depth analytical tools for predicting failure, which adapts to fluctuations in the line’s operating performance.
As you can imagine, the scope for companies to use AR and gaming to create a hype at shows like this is vast. There are lots of AR experiences to be had here – both as a look into the plant, and as a bit of fun – but it’s only when companies like Sidel and Tetra Pak demonstrate the practical applications of AR headsets that it becomes unavoidably important for the future of the industry.
Many other companies, including North American packager WestRock, are exhibiting their advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies to visitors here. A walk around the halls is not so different from a walk around tomorrow’s food factory.
There’ll be more to bring you in the remaining two days of the show, including the World Beverage Innovation Awards 2017 at 4 pm on Thursday 14 September. You’re very welcome to join us!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017