Food & Beverage Adding More IIoT Traceability to Supply Chain

"Although a late adopter of IIoT, the food & beverage industry is showing great eagerness to digitize its assets due to the rising need for traceability."

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A rapidly growing urban population and increased consumer awareness regarding sustainability are prompting food and beverage companies and manufacturers to employ digital solutions to ensure product quality, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan. This has been supported by continuous investment in technological innovations with a focus on food processing, safety and packaging to help establish a competitive advantage in the marketplace. 

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies such as Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are expected to play a huge role in accelerating and streamlining the manufacturing process through advanced automation and analytics. "Although a late adopter of IIoT, the food & beverage industry is showing great eagerness to digitize its assets due to the rising need for traceability," said Nandini Natarajan, Senior Research Analyst, Industrial team at Frost & Sullivan.

"IIoT will allow F&B manufacturers to collaborate and connect across different stakeholders involved in various stages of the food value chain. It enables seamless exchange of information and goods in different directions, unlike with traditional methods where only linear, unidirectional flow was possible."

"As a first step toward digital transformation, food & beverage companies are integrating sensors directly into their legacy assets and configuring them to broadcast data to the cloud for monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics," noted Natarajan. "They are also employing a direct sampling procedure from automated plant equipment for real-time visibility into quality measurement. Meanwhile, some companies are investing in in-line quality data recording through inspection procedures."

As it has become common to source food raw materials and ingredients from multiple vendors, the databases have become larger. Furthermore, food products travel more miles than before, which increases the risks of spoilage. These issues have created a strong demand for Big Data Analytics to aid in the management of food product traits and supply value chains to enhance food safety.

According to the report, IIoT will find wider application opportunities and vendors can make the most of this technology by:

  • Developing new business models that focus on data, connectivity and customer centricity, along with data security.
  • Focusing on simple, easy-to-use products and integrated end-to-end solutions.
  • Partnering with select third-party applications.
  • Offering technically advanced packaging solutions that ensure sustainability without compromising on the nutrition of the foods.