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Industry Reports

Food, Beverage & Tobacco

Chapter The need for ERP

2. The need for ERP


a variety of specialised diets, including vegetarian, vegan and clean eating. How can food and beverage manufacturers use technology to improve the traceability of their supply chain in line with this?


Food contamination costs the global economy $55 billion each year. To achieve visibility across the entire supply chain, food and beverage manufacturers need to integrate an enterprise research planning (ERP) system that is capable of logging the movement of products and analyse any changes to the supply chain, particularly any preventative actions.

The future

In the future, we can expect to see even more devices capable of enabling traceability. These won’t just store the data, but analyse it to help meet customer expectations and adhere to the ever increasing industry regulations.

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Chapter Revolutionising food and beverage manufacturing

3. Revolutionising food and beverage manufacturing

Smart technologies are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in industrial manufacturing. However, while automotive and pharmaceutical sectors are leading the way, the food and beverage industry has been slow to adopt new technologies. That is until recently. Here, we explore three of the latest trends set to revolutionise food and beverage manufacturing.

3D food printing

Quirky inventions in pop culture, like the replicator, a device used to synthesize meals in Star Trek, have inspired the creation of real 3D printing technologies for food.

As a form of additive manufacturing, 3D printing of food brings with it a great number of benefits including mass customisation to better meet individual needs, use of alternative ingredients and a more energy efficient way of producing food.

Precision agriculture

The manufacturing plant isn’t the only place becoming ‘smarter’. Industry 4.0 is also making its way onto farms. Precision agriculture is a concept that makes the practice of farming more accurate and controlled, particularly when it comes to growing crops.

A mixture of sensors, high precision positioning systems and geo-mapping ensures each crop receives the right amount of water and fertiliser for maximum yield, as well as allowing for the harvesting process to be automated.

Invisible shopping

Almost one third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is wasted each year. To tackle this problem, food manufacturers are combining their efforts- and invisible shopping is one of many ways that could alleviate this global problem. 

By using sensors in a fridge or storage cupboard, appliances can monitor product inventory and automatically repurchase them when stocks are low. This stops duplicate products, particularly perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables, being bought in large quantities and left to rot as they are not used. 

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Chapter How our services work for you

4. How our services work for you

Following a machine breakdown, food and beverage manufacturers need to replace broken parts quickly, to return to regular production. However, there is no guarantee that a replacement part is sat in the manufacturers inventory. In fact, it may no longer be produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) at all.

Estimates suggest that almost every manufacturer loses five per cent of its productivity due to downtime. However, when producing food and beverages with limited shelf-lives, downtime can be even more costly.

Working with an obsolete parts supplier means manufacturers can return to production with minimal downtime and costs.

So, what are the options? To return to production the manufacturer might have to replace an entire machine or, the worst-case scenario, an entire system.

This is where EU Automation can help. We can source and deliver obsolete parts for devices used by food and beverage manufacturers, from sensors and motors to human machine interfaces (HMIs) and plant engineering software systems. You name it, we can obtain it. 

We work directly with some of the biggest automation manufacturers to source new, reconditioned and obsolete parts for food and beverage manufacturers. 

But, what about compliance I hear you ask

To meet with food and drug administration (FDA) regulations, EU Automation stocks parts from Allen Bradley and other manufacturers that use FDA approved coatings on their parts, reducing the risk of any contamination.

What’s more, we understand the value of downtime for the food and beverage sector. Manufacturers can contact EU Automation for any required part and expect overnight delivery from one of our warehouses - regardless of whether it is a new, reconditioned or obsolete part.

Maintenance engineers can also prepare for a breakdown in advance by stocking spare parts on-site, then EU Automation can replenish stock to reduce potential downtime in the future. This may be a more viable option for large manufacturers.

Food, beverage and tobacco manufacturers need to consider how they will react to, or prepare for, a machine breakdown.

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Chapter Speeding up recalls

5. Speeding up recalls

It only takes a quick Google search to see how frequently product recalls happen in the food, beverage and tobacco industry. In fact, a recent analysis of Food Standards Agency data discovered a 70 per cent increase in product recall alerts since 2012.

Despite product recalls being damaging for the manufacturer involved, they are put in place to save the general public from the potentially harmful effects of consuming damaged products. However, without traceability records, recalls would not be possible. The better these records, the faster businesses can respond to emergencies, minimising financial damage and harm to public health.

Human error in record keeping can damage traceability along the entire supply chain

Industry challenge

Unfortunately, traceability of food and beverage products is met with several challenges. Human error in record keeping can damage traceability along the entire supply chain and counterfeit products, put consumer health at risk and are harmful to the economy. Also, detailed traceability records include huge amounts of data, which are challenging to collect, store and analyse.

Supply chain globalisation also poses challenges for the traceability of food and beverage products. For example, regulations differ between countries and different time zones can delay the response to emergencies. In addition, many products are imported from countries with lower health and safety standards, so quality testing is required along the supply chain. 

EU Automation's solution

Automation of traceability processes helps the industry overcome these challenges. 

This doesn’t have to be as expensive as you may think - EU Automation has an extensive portfolio of new, obsolete and reconditioned parts that can be retrofitted to improve the performance of a system without a full replacement. For example, you can attach sensors to containers, allowing you to monitor conditions such as the physical handling of products, their location and any temperature excursions. 

We also supply programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human-machine interfaces (HMIs) so that you can integrate sensor technology with accompanying hardware to further automate your traceability processes. 

Gone are the days when every item’s serial number had to be written down and traced manually. Businesses can now use barcode or radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, along with handheld scanners, to log each item into an automated database. 

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Chapter Keeping production running

6. Keeping production running

According to research by Wrap, the UK wastes 1.7 million tonnes of food and drink products along the supply chain every year. A lot of this waste is avoidable with increased traceability. Customers want to know where their food comes from and retailers will not sell products that cannot be easily traced. However, if the facility is shut down because of a machine breakdown, traceability is compromised.

Here, we explain how EU Automation can reduce downtime at a dairy manufacturing plant.

A machine in your factory has broken down, causing a plant shutdown.

A shutdown means that dairy products cannot be traced at that time. There is no guarantee that the products have stayed at the correct temperature - so everything will have to be wasted. 

The manufacturer needs to contact the maintenance team who will locate what part broke down.

Once the part is located, manufacturers need to source a new part.

However, that part is no longer made by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

At this point, manufacturers have Two options:

Purchase a new system
or find another solution

The second solution is to contact EU Automation. We can source any part, new, reconditioned, or obsolete to replace the broken part.

EU Automation will deliver the new part overnight to international clients and in under nine hours to manufacturers in Europe. 

The maintenance team can then fit the replacement part and return to optimum productivity. 

EU Automation can stock the parts you need at our warehouse - so that we are prepared for any future breakdowns at your facility. 

Improving preventative maintenance reduces the risk of breakdowns, improves traceability and reduces waste in food and drink manufacturing.

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