When it comes to adopting the latest technologies, the food and beverage industry doesn’t remain at the forefront. However, lately, this industry has started exploring the advantages of Industry 4.0 to improve its operations. Some of the top players in the industry have realized that by adopting IIoT solutions, food and beverage companies can gain great benefits at monetary and operational levels. These IIoT solutions are not only implemented by F & B manufacturers and processing units but have also got popular among suppliers and retailers. By implementing Industrial IoT (IIoT), it has become possible for companies to remain competitive by improving their uptime and production.

Similar to any other industry, the food and beverage industry also need to meet customer demand to remain competitive in the market. In addition to this, these companies also need to comply with food and beverage safety regulations requirements. Safety and hygiene are paramount because the end-product is intended for human consumption. That’s why food manufacturers need to incur massive capital expenditures for pest control, microbial testing, hygiene consultation, and other services. The entire production process involves multiple stages such as mincing, liquefaction, emulsification, cooking, pasteurization, and packaging. At each stage, numerous machines and equipment are used. Manufacturers must maintain proper cleanliness at every stage and that often leads to increasing the moisture level of production zones which can damage the equipment. Due to this reason, the maintenance of machines and equipment in the food industry becomes a real challenge.

Predictive Maintenance in the Food Production Industry

In all industries, downtime is one of the biggest nuisances. Downtime leads to wasting time and resources of all manufacturers, especially food processors and manufacturers. The manufacturers in the F & B industry produce perishable items and the slightest delay in processing or packaging those food items could result in damaging the product and potential throwaways. This unscheduled downtime can severely impact their profit margins.

Downtime is a major challenge faced by the food processing sector that halts their production. It not only wastes their resources but could also cause unnecessary delivery delay of highly demanded food items. To address this issue, manufacturers need to increase machine availability by reducing unscheduled downtime. And this becomes possible with the help of predictive maintenance technology. Predictive maintenance can immensely help food and beverage companies in reducing downtime and improving profitability. With the help of big data and machine learning technology, IIoT solutions allow companies to take a proactive approach to achieve uptime and remain competitive.

How Downtime Monitoring Can Help Food Industry

With the introduction of IoT sensors, software tools, gateway devices, and cloud computing, implementation of Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications has become widespread. IoT-enabled devices are used to collect data that are combined with historic and ERP data of the different machines. This aggregated data forms the basis for Predictive Maintenance. Data analysis allows identifying deviations and formulating predictions regarding equipment failure. IIoT helps in preventing downtime by providing data to formulate preventive maintenance schedules. This means that downtime monitoring in the food industry helps in minimizing unplanned downtime and ensures that maintenance is only carried out when necessary. So, if your factory is still not connected with IoT sensors, here are some major benefits of downtime monitoring in the food industry.

1.      Actionable Insights

Condition-Based Monitoring collects a lot of data that can be put to great use if analyzed properly. Analyzing data collected through sensors and HMI/SCADA systems can help in cutting maintenance costs. However, to make the best use of gathered data, food and beverage companies must use advanced software solutions to find out the context and analytics behind that data. These manufacturers can utilize data historian that allows analysis of time series and historical data to detect the potential root causes of past failures. By identifying the past failure patterns, operators can take proactive action to prevent that issue from arising again in the future. In addition to this, companies should also implement condition-based monitoring which sets pre-defined rules and rules violations to detect any change or variation in the work pattern. If any change is detected from the desired pattern, the operator will receive a warning message. These early warning notifications help in diagnosing issues and resolving them long before they cause downtime. Besides increasing uptime, it also helps in sharing information among authorized personnel.

2.      Food Safety

Unplanned downtime causes equipment failures or breakdowns all of a sudden. This not only delays production but may also negatively impact the quality of consumable items. For food manufacturers, maintaining optimal temperature throughout the manufacturing, processing, and packing processes is of utmost importance. Various parameters are considered to ensure that food is not exposed to unsafe environments before it reaches its final point-of-sale. To maintain the quality and safety standards of food items, companies and retailers are using IIoT sensors for tracking temperature and other variables. The downtime monitoring system involves collecting real-time data by using connected sensors attached to the equipment. With the downtime monitoring, it’s ensured that no delay is caused that may perish the food item and make it unsafe for consumption.

3.      Save Costs & Improve Productivity

Downtime monitoring not only helps in avoiding sudden production halts but also determines the proper time for planned downtime. With proper equipment monitoring, plant operators may schedule maintenance when it’s not even needed. This can cause unnecessary expense. But they have relevant data about the condition of the machines; they can schedule maintenance at the right time. This not only saves money but also increases asset availability by eliminating the need for unnecessary maintenance downtime.