The relationship between machine suppliers and food makers has always more or less ended post sale. In the future, as Haver & Boecker’s Reinhold Festge tells us, Industry 4.0 will allow these relationships to become deeper and endure longer.
When the subject turns to Industry 4.0, conversations tend to focus on things like quality control, improved efficiency, labour market changes and food safety.
Haver & Boeker Germany’s CEO, Dr Reinhold Festge has a unique take on the coming revolution. “Through automation and Industry 4.0 we can now sneak into other companies,” he told Food & Beverage Industry News, with his tounge firmly in his cheek.
“We can stay with our machines. We can control how they work. We can optimise the function of our machines, provide wonderful advantages to our customers and help them be more effective,” he added.
“So I think the customers will like the change. We will know better what they are doing and how. And that is a big advantage.”
Festge explained that for packaging the first step was to automate the production line.
“We have a packaging machine, an automated back placer, an automated palletiser, and we have an automated shrink hooder. So we have the line completely automated,” he said.
In the years ahead, he added, manufacturers like Haver & Boeker will be able to access information from their machines, located in their customers’ plants. And the customers, themselves, we will be able to answer questions like ‘What do we have in this aisle?’, ‘When do we have to order new bags or new film for packaging?”, and ‘When do you have to order the trucks for loading?’.
“We will have a complete process that is very effective and very positive for both of us. That is a clear win/win situation,” said Festge.
How long will the revolution take?
“It is a development… a technical revolution. In our understanding in Germany, for instance, we have a time horizon of ten to twenty years.
“There are major developments still necessary to interlink all the components of machines, of one supplier with machines of different suppliers.”
In other words, all machines, whoever makes them, will need to be able to understand each other.
In addition, the revolution will require the development of things wireless sensors that produce energy for themselves.
“There are many, many things to do still and we are just at the beginning, we are scratching on the surface,” said Festge. “We have not solved the problem yet.”
Filling & packaging technologies
Haver & Boeker develops and manufactures processing and packing technology for the food stuffs, minerals, chemicals and building materials industries.
The company has a suite of seven technology brands including Behn+Bates, a specialist in the foodstuffs sector which provides filling and packaging technology for food, animal feed and pet food makers.
Another of its brands, Fiege Filling, is a specialist for liquids including uncritical, foaming, explosive or flammable products. It provides customers with appropriate filling technologies for container sizes ranging from 0.5kg to 3,000kg.
Behn + Bates recently unveiled the Roto-Packer Adams Care-Line, its new hygienic form, fill seal (FFS) polyethylene (PE) packing concept for powder-type products.
“This is the first machine that can pack powdery products into water-tight plastic bags,” said Festge.
“We resolved the infeed of the product, the deaeration of the product.
“Before people could do it only in paper bags, for example, because the paper bag can breathe and deaerate through the wall.”
Using the Adams Care-Line, it is possible to achieve much better print quality than can be achieved with a paper bag. Display properties can therefore be enhanced and sales can be improved.
According to Festge, Industry 4.0 will ensure an exciting future for technology such as this and the packaging industry in general.
“Industry 4.0 will stabilise the future because it gives us the opportunity to graft the mechanical together with the digital,” said Festge said. “So we can graft smarter solutions for our processes.”