Several new technologies are affecting the food processing industry. This article describes what they are and what they can do for the future of this heavily regulated industry.
Benefits of Technology In The Food Processing Industry
Here are some of the most impressive benefits associated with new technological developments in the food processing industry.
Food processing facilities take care of properly storing inventory. With effective software and advanced analytics, manufacturers can use data to gain a better understanding of consumer needs. Knowing both what is on hand and consumers seek, can simplify the ordering process so that quantities of foods requested better meet the consumer demand. This stronger understanding of customer needs, helps avoid wasted inventory in the form of spoilage before it can be processed and distributed.
Less Equipment Failure
Smart sensors assist in identifying potential issues with machines and equipment. For processing plants that must continuously produce food products in order to be profitable, avoiding downtime is a critical factor. Equipment repair or replacement can be costly not only because of costs related to the machine itself but also because of financial losses incurred through overall processing downtime. By monitoring wear and tear of machinery, preventative measures can be implemented long before a serious breakdown occurs. This saves money and keeps operations running smoothly and effectively.
Consumer demands continuously evolve. To stay ahead of changes in trends, food manufacturers must adapt those meet new consumer expectations. Changes in shopping habits may be as simple as rebranding packaging or as complicated as introducing a new product and retiring another. A food processor capable of keeping up with trends and consumer demands, ensures greater ongoing success with a product line.
Emerging Technologies That Impact Food Processing
Here are five emerging technologies that are currently affecting the food processing industry.
1 – AI and Advanced Robotics
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and advanced robotics are frequently used together. Robots are increasingly used to complete repetitive and well-defined tasks. The data AI uses and learns, permits robots to expand how they do things. Robots learn usually learn what is needed of them by working within the setting where they are being used. When AI and advanced robotics work in tandem in the food processing industry, they work in a powerful way to streamline operations. This results in more efficient processing of quality food at affordable costs. When combined with human workers, nearly all processes are greatly enhanced.
2 – Automation
Automation, in the form of AI and advanced robotics, not only streamlines food processing systems, it can also serve to strengthen the entire process. Through automation, manufacturers can keep up with the growing demand placed on the food processing industry. Automation also boosts volume and output while still maintaining strict quality control standards. Increased output and consistently high-quality products, increases value and, in turn, raises revenue streams.
3 – Digital Twins
In the food processing industry, digital twins simulate copies or create virtual example of a physical system. The twin is essential in that it provides a cloned copy that is tested, modified, and retested without affecting the actual system. Using a digital twin permits all kinds of manipulation of the copied processing system. It is a cost-effective way to examine, retool, and improve an existing process without having to touch the current system by creating a better understanding of what changes will do in real-world settings.
4 – Data Loggers
A data logger is a small, portable, battery-operated device used in measuring and recording environmental conditions. In the food processing industry, data loggers are essential for monitoring temperatures. Continuous temperature control is of vital importance when food products are in storage or in transit to retail facilities. By keeping the temperature controlled, food products arrive at their destination in perfect condition. Data loggers alert staff when temperatures fall out of safe zones so that human intervention can occur to rectify the situation. They also store the sampled information for later retrieval.
5 – Blockchain
Blockchain technology is closely associated with the cryptocurrency industry. However, when applied to the food processing industry, the blockchain provides a safe, efficient, visible control system. For example, data stored through blockchain technology is so precise that a single bunch of grapes can be directly traced throughout the system from point of origination, through each step of processing all the way to point of sale. Blockchain technology creates a detailed digital ledger that can answer questions related to food safety concerns which is what makes it so valuable.
Future Technology to Come
As amazing as the technology is that is currently in use within the food processing industry, it is just the beginning. New technology is always evolving, as is the food processing industry. Here is a glimpse of some of the ways that technology can continue to enhance food production in the future.
Drones For Delivery
Drones have been tested in many different applications. Instead of having a delivery vehicle on the road creating a larger carbon footprint, drones can take products from the source and transport them to the consumer.
3D Printing for Edibles
3D printing is used to create models and prototypes of products. The 3D printed versions are precise representations of new products. These are tested to see if something functions properly. Why not use the 3D printing process to “print” a meal?
With continued world population growth, and advancements in technology being used effectively in the food processing industry, there is a real demand for more and better food quality. Fortunately, technology fits well within the parameters of food processing. New technologies have improved the food product manufacture, permitted constant monitoring to verify that good quality control standards have been met, and that risks associated with transportation and storage of those finished food products is mitigated. Expect technology to continue to direct movement in this industry and many others.