In a retrospective look at FoodBev.com in 2015, at what is driving investment for food and drink manufacturers – what they are looking for in terms of technology solutions; and what the prevailing challenges are for them – I uncovered a great deal of compelling coverage of the most interesting developments that amply illustrate the main processing technology trends in the industry.
In every industry, reducing waste and optimising production is vital to survival as costs spiral. The food and beverage industry is no different.
The environmentally sound focus on waste reduction extends into the industry-wide scramble to reduce energy consumption and therefore fuel bills.
As ever, there is no point in producing good food if it is not safe to eat, and with food scares proliferating, food and beverage companies are facing extra pressure to ensure the safety of their production and their supply chains.
Some solutions and actions taken to ensure product safety:
Once safety is assured, manufacturers are driven to create products of the utmost quality drawing on technologies that are designed to optimise the consumer acceptance of the finished products.
Novel processing technologies
The constant improvement of quality relies on the pursuit of novel technologies that overcome the shortcomings of existing processing methods, and stimulate the opportunity for greater innovation in the industry – something that is a constant driver. To this end, the Foodbev Media editorial team covered many of the most exciting projects ongoing in the industry.
Whatever the technology, as margins are squeezed, food and beverage manufacturers are all looking to ensure the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO – the calculation of initial purchase price plus ongoing maintenance and running costs).
TCO is often a driver for investment in automation, which is one of the main trends in the industry, which has traditionally been slow to adopt automation due to the intricacies of handling food products. Technology improves and cost savings are to be made, particularly in the area of end-of-line packaging as well as increasingly further up the line.
With automation comes flexibility as robots and automated lines can be programmed to switch from one task to another more rapidly than ever before, which taps into another industry driver – that of flexibility: the need to switch from one product to another and the capacity to handle multiple products on the one line.
Speed and efficiency
As always, speed is of the essence with no room for downtime or production losses in today’s high throughput manufacturing plants, as is evident in many of the stories that appeared on FoodBev.com last year.
In order to compete, manufacturers are investing fast and furiously to increase and improve their production capacity, and expand into new lucrative markets with state-of-the-art technology.
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