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Industry 4.0 and Food Manufacturing: Is There a Match?

We are now looking at a world where automation, digitization, and smarter solutions are the norm.  However, the foodservice industry seems to be one of the last to jump on-board with this. 


Why? The future may be scary but it is necessary to adopt these new technologies in order to keep up with consumer demands and an overcrowded competitive market.   


Industry 4.0 is a simple concept that entails some not-so-simple technologies such as the Cloud, Internet of Things, cognitive computing, and AI.

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Also known as the Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 allows businesses to gather more data than before to achieve a greater level of analysis.  The increased connectivity offered through these technologies gives, specifically the foodservice industry, higher traceability and transparency while lowering cost for higher output in the end.  

A Match Made in Heaven

The pressure to increase efficiency and cater to the constantly changing consumer means that the food and beverage industry needs to act now.  While the industry may not be known for its agility, this is about to change. 

What is driving this need for change?

  • Increased consumer demands
  • Expanding Value Chain
  • Pressure to Improve Margins

A study conducted by The American Society for Quality showed only 13 percent of manufacturers in the food and beverage industry use the IIoT and smart manufacturing.  However, this minority is paving the way by upgrading their factories and facilities. Due to the perishability of many production materials, increased scrutiny for production cleanliness and other tight regulations, smart manufacturing and the foodservice industry go hand in hand.  

Industry 4.0’s Revolutionary Techniques provide:

Data collection systems

Enables operators to uncover bottlenecks and improve design operations

Real-time plant performance visibility

Faster adaptability to problem areas in factory equipment or production line

Cloud-based solutions

Centralized management visibility provides flexibility and scalability

Predictive maintenance solutions

Detect issues with early warning notifications and diagnose the problem

In addition to speeding up production, Industry 4.0 offers manufacturers higher levels of data collection.  Knowledge is power and in the foodservice industry, it means more knowledge about the demand for products before changing production levels, traceability through blockchain technologies and the ability to predict customer desires.  All of these benefits increase profits by catering to exactly what people will buy, when they will buy it and how much they will buy.

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Upgrading The Factory Floor: Who is Already Doing It?

1. New Belgium Brewing Co, integrated smart manufacturing onto its factory floor to predict when the equipment would require maintenance. This reduced the company’s unscheduled downtime by 50 percent, which increased production from 150,000 cases per week to 200,000 cases per week without additional capital investments.


2. Early adopters, Cadbury, released their aerated dairy milk chocolate bar in 2012 after using 3D printing to create prototypes of the confections.  This significantly decreased R&D times compared to the weeks required by other methods.


3.Take a look at this video provided by the BBC showing how dairy cows are essentially milking themselves thanks to the help of robots! Because the young calves do not know any other method of milking it will be interesting to see the effect on the future of dairy-farming efficiency?

4) Leading chocolate makers, Mars, introduced their automated handling and robotics systems at their factory in France earlier this year. According to XPO Logistics, who runs the upgraded facility, Mars now has the capability to house as much as 10 million packages every year and also increased speed in preparation and distribution more than ever before.  Nestlé is not far behind.

The latest technologies available can be used to provide farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers with the necessary information to help streamline their operations and maximize distribution efficiencies.


For many food manufacturers, the future can be daunting.  Despite its advantages, a McKinsey survey of manufacturers found only 48 percent felt ready to transition to Industry 4.0.  Many companies are still accepting the newest industrial revolution. However, this upgrade will allow companies to better serve customer demands faster, provide advanced analytics, and empower the workforce to gain new skills.  From farmers experimenting with sensors to monitor soil to major legacy brands using 3D printing – everyone can benefit.

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Try the Demo

With Easy2FIND, our web-based query tool, you can pull data from CHD Expert’s online database. You can also get granular contact information on each operator.