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Let’s talk about overcoming challenges together

08 June 2020

Appetite for Engineering 2020 is due to take place this year on 15 October at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) at Ansty Park in Coventry. Suzanne Gill gathers thoughts about the event from some of this years sponsors. 

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We think that this year Appetite for Engineering will have additional importance for the food and beverage industry – in addition to both educating and inspiring engineers working the food and beverage industry about the benefits of  automation technologies, the 2020 event will offer a very timely opportunity for the industry to come together to learn from the many challenges that we are facing today… and let’s not forget that Brexit is still looming on the horizon!

The current Covid-19 pandemic has required the food industry to focus its attention on making some very rapid changes to production lines and the current priority for everyone is, rightfully, to ensure that employees are working in safe environments. When this goal has been achieved there will no doubt be more time for reflection, and the pandemic may well act as a wake-up call for many food and beverage processors, in relation to the productivity and flexibility of their existing production lines, and a continued reliance on manual labour. We are sure that this will be one of the leading topics of conversation at this year’s event. A variety of key industry spokespeople – including Ian Wright, chief executive of the FDF – will be available to discuss the lessons that should be learned from the events we are living through today. 

Despite the pandemic, advances in intelligent connectivity and automation technologies continue apace and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and smart machines and factories are starting to become reality for many. The UK’s food and drink manufacturing industry now has a great opportunity to make a major productivity step change. For engineering leaders looking to remain competitive in the UK’s ever-more challenging supply chain, understanding how to maximise the opportunity to grow and develop businesses and organisations through better plant, productivity, process and people remains crucial.

The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of increasing flexible automation in the food processing industry and this will present challenges to engineers involved in the sector – how will we adapt existing equipment, what new process equipment do we require, how will we get maximum flexibility out of our production lines, what do we mean by flexible production, and will we have the necessary skills to support the changes? For all of these reasons Festo has made the decision to once again be the event’s Headline Sponsor. Festo believes that Appetite for Engineering will be one of the most important events of the year for engineers involved in the food and beverage processing sector because it offers a great opportunity to meet other engineers who are facing similar challenges and the event allows engineers to see what the many different suppliers to the sector are doing to help with adoption of the latest technologies, improving flexibility and productivity and helping the food industry on its journey towards Industry 4.0.

While an entire smart food factory is probably still some way off, genuine improvements in efficiency and quality are achievable right now by retrofitting Industry 4.0 technologies to existing production lines.  For example, it is already possible to upgrade existing plants to gain important operating or performance data or measure energy consumption and at the same time predict potential issues with the performance of a machine. Industry 4.0 is an evolution, not a revolution. You don’t have to have a brand-new plant to adopt some of the technology that will help the improved flexibility and productivity of your machines. 

At the event this year Festo will be showing a range of technology that can be used in existing plants including energy monitoring, digital communications, digital maintenance, and remote diagnostics.

Appetite for Engineering has quickly become an important event in the Beckhoff calendar. The food and beverage industry is the UK's largest manufacturing sector but it has historically been slower than other sectors to embrace automation technology. This is why it is vital to show how automation tools such as PC-based control systems can help food manufacturers stay ahead of their competition. In previous years Beckhoff has demonstrated its kinematics and conditional monitoring systems, and in 2020 it is hoping to bring its rail transport system – the XTS – to the event.

Cerulean is a new sponsor for the 2020 event and is looking forward to having the opportunity to meet and interact with key players in the food and beverage industry. The company believes that it is critical to begin a dialogue with other businesses to deliver the innovations that drive mutual success. Understanding todays challenges and the industry’s future needs is key.

Cerulean says that becoming a sponsor will significantly enhance its networking opportunities by allowing it to also share with the industry its product offerings which help end-users to ensure food safety and eliminate waste. 

Delegates will be able to see Cerulean’s CelsiusChecker 20, which is a unique non-contact, in package, frozen and chilled food temperature measurement device that creates no waste and allows the product tested to be sold rather than discarded. Based on measuring the microwave background, characteristic of the product temperature, the CelsiusChecker can measure the average temperature of chilled foodstuff inside the pack even when frozen with a remarkable level of accuracy.

Each year the UK generates millions of tonnes of food and packaging waste in the food processing industry just to ensure chill cabinet foods are at the right temperature. The CelsiusChecker can eliminate waste and save money. 

JD Industrial is delighted to be able to support Appetite for Engineering this year. With 2020 so far proving to be challenge for everyone, it is proud to be working in the food and beverage sector and to see the industry coming together in a time of need and working tirelessly to continue to feed the nation. It beleives that this year Appetite for Engineering will be even more important – offering a forum to discuss the challenges that have been faced and to celebrate those that have made a difference. 

JD Industrial (JDI), part of the JD Cooling Group, are specialists in industrial refrigeration as well as heat recovery in the form of heat pump technology and district heating. This year the company will be  demonstrating its turnkey solutions for the food industry and members of its team will be on hand. It has a wealth of experience offering efficient design solutions focusing on its customers’ Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), bringing the right application for a process using natural refrigerants (with low GWP) such as ammonia, propane and CO2. 

Minebea Intec will once again be present at Appetite for Engineering, which it sees as an important event for the food industry because of its focus on the needs of end-user engineers. Minebea Intec is a global leader in the manufacture of highly engineered solutions for weighing and product inspection equipment, including load cells, process controllers, industrial scales, checkweighers, metal detection and X-ray systems as well as software solutions for batching, formulation and data collection.  

As a solution provider, the company believes that the best way to present technical solutions is through demonstration and so it frequently hosts engineering leaders in its Birmingham showroom and test facility. Appetite for Engineering provides the company with another opportunity to discuss and show its equipment and solutions to engineers with similar requirements. On its stand this year delegates can expect to see several examples of its latest solutions and innovations. It will also have specialists on hand to discuss individual requirements.

OAL believes that Appetite for Engineering offers a great opportunity for end-users of technology to meet new people who can help realise all the efficiencies that automation can deliver. Not only can delegates learn about new technologies and solutions but one key focus of the event is an upskilling your workforce to gear up for success. In the coming months, food companies will need to become more efficient and automation can help drive this efficiency and achieve operational excellence, but for many the challenge is where to start. Some food companies may not know how to automate while others have exhausted the skills of their existing suppliers. 

At the event this year OAL will be demonstrating its robotics and automation solutions that have helped food companies become more efficient. Delegates will be able to see how robots can replace the manual weighing of ingredients in spice rooms and get hands-on with the software that removes the paperwork from the packaging line, cutting changeover times to a just a few seconds.

A key event
SMC has been a supporter of Appetite for Engineering for many years and has watched it grow into one of the key UK events for people working in the food processing and beverage industries. It says that Appetite for Engineering has simply got better and better each year and following the change of location to the Manufacturing Technology Centre a few years ago, it found its perfect home. For SMC, the event is now a must do activity and it is also an important day for the SMC food and beverage specialists who man the stand and who, in the past, have been involved with some of the conference sessions. Delegates attending Appetite for Engineering will have the opportunity to hear, meet and speak to some of the most influential people in this important industry sector.  Additionally, delegates can see some of the latest products and services developed for food and beverage applications. This year SMC will be presenting its SMC Connectivity Spectrum which can help increase productivity and reduce costs.  

Vega is excited to be attending the event again this year and is looking forward to meeting everyone –  from the young apprentices right through to experienced business managers. The company will be showing its latest level and pressure technology, which combines innovation with solid quality and simple, clear process visibility – be it the local operator on the plant, or the other side of the world via IIoT systems. Vega’s passion is understanding, helping and supporting engineers in the food and beverage sectors to visualise and achieve what they want to. It can be measurement during handling bulk raw materials and ingredients, gaining accurate control during manufacturing processes, or via optimal inventory and timely distribution of finished products. To achieve this, VEGA manufactures a comprehensive range of sensors, transmitters and point-level switches, for just about everything  – liquids, gases and solids for process control, inventory and automation tasks. The company’s latest generation of low-cost sensors are designed with ease of use, safety for staff, simple installation and maximum productivity in mind. It’s not just about innovative, market-leading instruments, it is also about trained, experienced and interested engineers and technicians, with the goal of providing optimum performance and reliability. VEGA is a company committed to enabling businesses to deliver quality, optimise their productivity and energy inputs – increasing safety, reducing waste and costs.

Wire Belt Company will be using the event to showcase a its Hygienic Conveyor Solutions  which have been designed to support the food industry by offering equipment that exceeds the latest in hygienic design guidelines, using innovative features to make cleaning easier and efficient.  

The new conveyors from Wire Belt Company are designed for any production facility where contamination is a prime concern, offering customers the best hygienic solution to their product handling requirements especially in food processing, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. 

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