CxO Panel Discussion: How the New Norm is Impacting the Food & Beverage Factory of the Future

Food and Beverage manufacturers are constantly challenged with producing consistent quality products to meet consumer tastes and demands.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many food & beverage companies, particularly around meeting step-change consumer demand, ensuring employee safety and keeping essential manufacturing operations running during these unprecedented challenges.

This panel will discuss how digital technologies are being leveraged to assist in these challenges and how they can be strategically adopted to add value and solve problems moving into the future.

Watch the recorded panel discussion here.

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Industry 4.0 won’t be marked by the number of shiny toys you own

With my background in automation, engineering and energy infrastructure spanning over two decades, there is a current trend I see that having a larger impact on global manufacturing than any other advancements in the last 40 years. The industrial sector finds itself entering an exciting new phase of evolution, an evolution marked by the unlimited potential of smart manufacturing technologies enabled by IoT and supporting government and industry initiatives such as Industry 4.0.

In fact, a recent report commissioned by two of Australia’s leading Industry Growth Centres has calculated that the economic impact of Industry 4.0 will create 80,000 new jobs and more than $74 billion in economic value.

At this year’s TechEd Conference, our customers and partners had the benefit of seeing the power of Industry 4.0 in full effect. TechEd is Rockwell Automation’s annual automation conference, bringing together the top minds in the industry to demonstrate cutting-edge technology that will dramatically reshape Australia’s public, commercial and industrial sectors.

The event gave a fascinating insight into Rockwell’s view of the next decade and the role automation will play in evolving the manufacturing space. But amidst all this excitement, I couldn’t help but notice an ongoing misconception surrounding Industry 4.0 and successful business digitisation.

Despite a clear interest and even experimentation with emerging technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) diagnostics and Virtual Reality (VR) training, we’re still not seeing the level of full-scale roll outs of IoT technologies in the industrial sector that we see in other parts of the world.

A culprit for this is that the local market has a strong tendency to move towards the shiniest object, examples like AR or VR, without evaluating its necessity to the business or how to effectively implement such a technology. In many instances, solutions with clear use cases such as deploying analytics addressing predictive maintenance and asset management productivity improvement, that bring with them obvious immediate value are clear missed opportunities. They don’t have the same appeal as the cool toys like AR and VR and hence don’t get the same focus and funding

The reality is that you need to know the use case you’re trying to solve for a product deployment to be effective. Recent research from LNS Research suggested 16 per cent of global businesses have gone into deployed systems whereas a substantially higher number of business are stuck at a pilot implementation stage. This is backed up by the World Economic Forum who believe most businesses are stuck in “pilot purgatory”. The interest is there, but nobodies committing to rolling out across their business because they haven’t clearly quantified the return on investment.

As an example, If you have a workplace defined by low incident rates and a knowledgeable workforce, there’s potentially not a lot of benefit in investing in a fully equipped virtual training environment. Industry 4.0 should be dictated by need, not the number of shiny toys you own. In my experience many struggle with what the true payback is. What the return of investment is. There are so many avenues to take, business leaders can easily find themselves jumping between what’s here now and what will emerge over the next four to five years with no rhyme or reason.

It can be difficult to quantify the return on investment and get the funding required, and that’s why I think the short-term benefit is likely in proven existing use cases that can now be deployed more quickly and cost effectively with better outcomes by using newer IoT platforms and solutions. Analytics examples such as preventative maintenance and asset optimisation solutions that help remove bottlenecks in your production addressing low hanging fruit that likely doesn’t need a lot of capital investment are prime examples of easy to justify investments

This is also not to say Australia is a laggard. In many industries including food and beverage as well as mining, Australia has a strong leadership position in the adoption of emerging technologies In my experience, some of the best practices and technology adoption can be found at a local level.

The key is simply to walk and not run into the many solutions and products attached to industry 4.0. Think about what the business problem is before you rush headfirst into trying the cool new toys available. Develop the stakeholder trust and technical ecosystem with quick wins around proven use cases, do the basics well and build the business from within that.

Improving flexibility in food and beverage packaging

Food and beverage manufacturers are constantly under pressure to package a wider variety of products in more types of packaging without compromising productivity. Now they can answer these trends while increasing throughput using the new iTRAK 5730 small-frame intelligent track system from Rockwell Automation. The system uses independent cart technology to support smart, flexible and efficient machines.

Independent cart technology has many features compared to traditional gear, chain and belt conveyors, including unlimited machine flexibility, good traceability and increased uptime. By using magnetic propulsion, the individually controlled carts can quickly start and stop with high precision, which reduces machine wear and is energy efficient. The technology also quickly manages changeovers using pre-configured move profiles that can be implemented with the push of a button from an HMI.

The iTRAK 5730 system has a small footprint. It has a 50mm minimum pitch that makes it suitable for primary packaging applications, such as flow wrapping, end load cartoning, and form-fill-and-seal pouching. The system also integrates into a manufacturer’s architecture, providing analytics that help optimise energy use, monitor parts wear and reduce downtime.

“The iTRAK 5730 system extends the flexibility and productivity benefits of iTRAK to meet the growing demand for customised food and beverage products,” said Michaela Kaufmann, iTRAK product manager at Rockwell Automation. “The technology is truly scalable. Your system can have as little as a 50 mm pitch in a small, standalone machine, or be as large as 100 meters and part of a large, complex line.”

“We are always exploring ways to enhance our offering and better support our machine assembly, food and beverage manufacturing customers; enabling them achieve their manufacturing and throughput goals without restriction,” added Max Kiah, independent cart technology sales manager, Asia Pacific at Rockwell Automation. “The new iTRAK 5730 system will be a great addition to our customers’ existing architecture, helping them to attain greater agility in their packaging and assembly lines, without compromising on quality or safety.”

In addition to delivering a smarter form of motion control, the iTRAK 5730 also offers integrated safety. Features such as safe torque off, Safe Stop 1, a SIL 3, PLe safety rating and the ability to create safety zones help increase confidence in machine safety. Safety zones, for example, can increase safety without compromising productivity by allowing motion to continue outside of the safety zone, even after a trip inside the safety zone.

Furthermore, simulation capabilities allow users to calculate throughput on the iTRAK 5730 system. Users can also create a digital twin that can be used to virtually design, commission and demonstrate the system, and to virtually train workers. Standardised object-oriented libraries also can help create a consistent user experience and accelerate time to market.

An intuitive shift towards greater automation

Automation and remote operations are on the move. Nowhere was this more clear than at our recent Rockwell Automation On The Move – a unique event where from 3-4 March we saw 119 customers attend 15 breakout sessions in Auckland, New Zealand, engaging with new trends, new technology and each other.

It was truly a hands-on experience where customers apply the latest automation and remote operations technology to a business problem, with the support of an experienced technician, working along with their team. It was a chance to demystify Industry 4.0 and the reality of what automation and IT/OT convergence can mean for businesses – making it real for customers.

Increased demand for automation
This is critical and becoming more important with each passing day. Businesses want to get to market quicker. They want to know how they can leverage data better to improve productivity and sustainability.

Then there’s the challenge of accelerating learning. Many knowledgeable veterans will retire. At the same time, younger generations change jobs more readily and businesses are struggling to find people who want to live and work in harsh or remote conditions.

Coronavirus is encouraging some companies to explore increased automation solutions and remote operations due to the challenges posed to business operations. A lot of customers, partners and engineers are unable to go onto site right now. I expect this to change the way we think about how we can run plants effectively without people onsite.

Many challenges aren’t different – but the technology is
While COVID-19 may be the latest and greatest threat, many of the challenges businesses face today are no different to 20 years ago. Businesses want to know how to get information to decision makers in a timely way, particularly when many IT systems do not interface easily with one another.

It was hard to correlate or find manufacturing trends. There was too much data that took too much time to retrieve and was not real-time. We built custom, costly and complicated one-sided solutions.

With the arrival of Industry 4.0, the tech has accelerated, and we can do things differently. Digitalisation is the next quantum leap in terms of trying to get more done with your systems.

The convergence of IT and OT can help us make sense of as much data as is available and process it in a timely way. Machine learning can assist with automation and spotting trends, and augmented reality (AR) can support accelerated learning, remote training and enhanced operator experience.

AR has pass through the hype phase and is now part of the mainstream. It’s allowing the overlay of the digital and the physical worlds. This includes both being able to visualise and move around a machine that isn’t physically there and being able to overlay a physical machine with an AR visualisation, which can support training and maintenance.

Behind this shift lies the fact that sensors have come down in price, computing power has gone through the roof, latency has reduced, cloud computing has now become pervasive in our lives and cybersecurity has become top of mind.

Whereas in the past we saw that many IT projects tended not to fail because of tech but because of issues with adoption and understanding, usability and user experience are now becoming a primary objective of many solutions – and that will allow more successful projects. A lot of the tech is becoming configurable and open.

What this means is that businesses can now make sense of as much data that is available and process it in real-time to make decisions that can change the way a business is run, instead of waiting until it’s too late. It means more efficient maintenance and training. This is reducing downtime, while increasing productivity, agility and speed to market.

Getting started
Technology may have become increasingly intuitive but getting started isn’t always as easy. When getting beginning your journey towards Industry 4.0, consider the following: what data you want to connect, how you can make solutions repeatable, use machine learning or predictive analytics to analyse trends and retrieve insights, how you will deliver relevant insights to those who need them in a consumable way, and what happens when you do spot something unusual or interesting.

Try to strike the right balance between off-the-shelf and customised solutions. Prioritise solutions that are repeatable from an infrastructure perspective but which offers an over the top user experience fits what you need.

Platforms such as Rockwell Automation’s Factory Talk Innovation Suite™, which has PTC technology inside, includes specific applications around remote monitoring, creating digital twins with AR/VR, and an IoT platform that extends to Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and predictive maintenance to support productivity, sustainability and integrated supply chain solutions.

These extensible platforms allow you to tap into a range of in-built applications relevant to your needs today – and position you to add in those which might become useful down the line.

Then get started. Don’t worry about gold plating it from the start. See what works and what doesn’t. Find a balance. Iterate. With the help of this remarkable technology we can get through this latest crisis and come out stronger on the other side.

Rockwell’s TechEd Australia – 3-5 September 2019

Rockwell Automation TechEd is the industry’s premier training and education event designed to help clients improve machine performance, optimise their plant and empower a Connected Enterprise.

Don’t miss the the opportunity to learn, explore and discover techniques for creating innovative high performance manufacturing and production applications.

Discover Cutting-Edge Solutions
Learn the techniques you need to help improve quality, reduce the cost of regulatory compliance and accelerate time to market in sessions led by leading industry companies.

Experience the Latest Technologies
Get step-by-step training on the tools and resources you need to develop solutions and drive results.

Network with Industry Leaders
Exchange innovative ideas with peers from around the region on how to work smarter, faster, safer and more sustainable.

Women in Automation – Pathways and Journey
Join a supportive community of women in automation to learn from their journey and explore pathways to achieve personal success in this industry.

The event will be held at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre from 3-5 September 2019.

Expand the possible with FactoryTalk InnovationSuite

The most successful business of the future will be the one that brings operational intelligence to its human developers. You’ll gain insights that enable you to innovate the way you manage your enterprise, how your workers work and how you deliver solutions to your customers. FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, provides the best of today’s IIoT, data analytics, AR and machine learning in one comprehensive solution. From the shop floor to the top floor, real-time operational visibility unleashes the power of possibilities for greater innovation, efficiency and profitability.

FactoryTalk InnovationSuite creates a connected environment, from the shop floor to the top floor, for real-time operational visibility. It helps you transform operations and develop scalable solutions that address numerous business scenarios. InnovationSuite can help eliminate your enterprise’s pain points around connectivity, data analytics and production while creating greater value in your operations and for your customers. You can achieve:

  • Real-time production and performance monitoring
  • Predictive and prescriptive maintenance
  • Digital work instructions
  • Equipment/machine analytics integration

Data from connected equipment, lines, processes and facilities is flowing into factories faster than ever before. The information locked in these data streams has the potential to transform how industrial producers manage their operations, solve issues and adapt to change. But managing that data and making it useful for the right purpose, at the right place and time is no easy task. Can your decision-makers get the answers they need to make timely decisions?

FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, is a comprehensive suite that brings edge-to-enterprise analytics, machine learning, industrial internet of things (IIoT) and augmented reality (AR) into industrial operations. This powerful solution simplifies the management of your data, supporting the sourcing, contextualizing, synthesis and orchestration of the information needs for every job role across operations.

InnovationSuite collects and consolidates information technology (IT) with operational technology (OT) from your existing equipment and systems for data-driven decision-making aligned with your specific requirements. Your workers are relieved of the burden of finding the data they need. And with instant access to actionable, real-time, data-driven insights, they can be more effective and more innovative.

The most successful business of the future will be the one that brings operational intelligence to its human developers. You’ll gain insights that enable you to innovate the way you manage your enterprise, how your workers work and how you deliver solutions to your customers. FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, provides the best of today’s IIoT, data analytics, AR and machine learning in one comprehensive solution. From the shop floor to the top floor, real-time operational visibility unleashes the power of possibilities for greater innovation, efficiency and profitability.

FactoryTalk InnovationSuite empowers your people with access to real-time and near-time information that gives them what they need to make timely and well-informed decisions. It provides powerful, purpose-built, IIoT solutions.

Integrated features manage complex data to deliver real-time insights
InnovationSuite uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to simplify and automate complex IT and OT data gathering and analysis, learning from and building on its knowledge base for future analyses. The suite collects and organizes data in real time and adds context to give you actionable insights. It also recommends insights of its own, enhancing your ability to understand and respond to issues and opportunities – right now. With InnovationSuite, your applications become more predictive. You get greater control over your operations while better protecting your assets.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, for your operations.