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F&B must step up

Digitization allows manufacturers to improve operations and achieve higher end-to-end product traceability through better access to data



The food and beverage (F&B) industry is among those which is slow to adapt in the pandemic era as more than 10 percent of them have permanently shut that are mostly small start ups.

Those that remain open reported a decline in sales of more than 30 percent since last year’s start of the health emergency.

A recent study of think tank Gartner pointed to the slow uptake of operational and efficiency improvements for firms in the sector.

The now ubiquitous delivery services have replaced the Filipinos’ penchant for shopping and malling that has been the bedrock of the F&B sector in its golden years prior to the contagion.

The study noted 87 percent of F&B organizations are seriously lagging in analytics and business intelligence capabilities.

“Digitization allows manufacturers to improve operations and achieve higher end-to-end product traceability through better access to data,” Tony Kang, Business vice president, Secure Power Division at Schneider Electric Philippines, said.

Kang said this is especially important to countries with highly competitive markets, as well as rapidly growing populations and production capabilities, like the Philippines.

Embrace I4 now
Companies need to invest in Industry 4.0 technologies and practices, such as industrial edge computing and Internet of Things (IoT) systems that allow them to converge IT and operational technology (OT) systems, automate the supply chain and production systems, and increase visibility across the production process by capturing and analyzing data to drive operational improvements to prepare for the future shape of business.

Traditionally, food and beverage manufacturing has relied on silo-based infrastructure. That means running standalone solutions deployed in different areas of the plant that don’t communicate with each other. These are outdated systems that are not capable of keeping up with the demands of both the current environment and modern market.

“Agility and adaptability are crucial. Food and beverage producers need to centralize industrial automation systems supported by edge computing networks that place processing and analysis closer to users for real-time tasks. These investments will help them gain visibility across the entirety of their operations, and can significantly help improve quality control, avoid contamination, and prevent downtime,” Kang stated.

Challenges posed by the pandemic can be hurdled by keeping one step ahead through the use of modern technology that are quickly evolving in response to the need to safeguard health.