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EcoStruxure: Transforming the Food and Beverage Supply Chain for Efficiency and Sustainability

Author : Tanya Bayley, Segment Marketing Manager – Industrial Segments, Schneider Electric

27 November 2023

The food and beverage industry is grappling with a significant challenge as food and non-alcoholic beverage prices surged by 13.6% up to August 2023, attributed to multiple factors. Achieving next-generation levels of efficiency and sustainability is the name of the game.

Discover how Schneider Electric helps empower the food and beverage industry to overcome rising costs, achieve next-generation efficiency, and create a resilient supply chain. 

The food and beverage (F&B) industry is facing a growing challenge with the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages rising by 13.6% in the year to August 2023. These rising costs are down to several factors, namely, the impact of inflation on raw material pricing and transportation costs, skills shortages, and most of all, the impact of the recent energy crisis. While these factors are being felt across all of industry, the impact on the supply chain for F&B has arguably the biggest impact on day-to-day life for consumers. Despite, and to some extent because of the immediacy of the current challenges facing F&B manufacturers, there is huge pressure to achieve next-generation levels of efficiency and sustainability.

Doing more with less has driven the need for next-generation automation that not only benefits the manufacturer but delivers value throughout the supply chain, enabling all members to reduce waste and become more efficient. Importantly, by harnessing the power of EcoStruxure, manufacturers can help protect consumers from some of the impact of inflation on their food bills by driving down waste and energy usage across the supply chain, while improving manufacturers’ capability to customise products quickly and to the highest quality and sustainability standards.

Digitalised opportunity
Schneider Electric’s mission is to support customers to fully leverage digitalisation to enable flexible and efficient food and beverage manufacturing with safer and more reliable, greener facilities. EcoStruxure provides a shared digital environment that incorporates data from both the facility and wider supply chain, highlighting best practice operations and opening improvements that contribute to a more efficient, transparent supply chain. Schneider Electric is in a unique position to make this a reality as we have extensive experience with every link in the supply chain, and across all F&B customer processes, from design, through installation, to operation, and maintenance. We understand first-hand how consumer expectations for better, healthier, more personalised products at lower prices creates challenges for manufacturers trying to reach higher volumes at a lower price per unit. While it is easy to see these two very different perspectives as opposites, they are in fact two sides of the same coin. Every element of the supply chain wants to operate at the highest level of efficiency to deliver products that give them a competitive edge in a crowded market.

On the manufacturing side, F&B producers find themselves engaged in a multifaceted battle as they seek to digitalise. They must contend with the persistence of legacy assets still in operation, navigate through increasingly stringent regulations, and address the growing demands for sustainability improvements. EcoStruxure is an indispensable catalyst for digital transformation, propelling advancements in energy management and automation within the sector. This IoT-enabled digital platform helps remove longstanding legacy-asset-related impediments, boost efficiency, and enhance the return on investment by dismantling the data silos that have long plagued vendor-locked automation systems. While this represents a substantial leap forward, the manufacturer is only one link in an often complex supply chain.

In both the upstream and downstream directions of the F&B supply chain, the integration of digital technology is also imperative to future success. Digitalisation serves as the linchpin for managing the intricacies of existing systems while fostering adaptability through enhanced visibility. The huge scope of applications for digital technologies in the F&B supply chain ranges from optimising agricultural processes before raw ingredients are even delivered, to streamlining warehouse management and fine-tuning transportation logistics for materials and products when they are on site, and facilitating comprehensive product information management to enable precise product tracking from manufacture to point of sale and beyond. All these critical components can work in synergy within the unified ecosystem of the EcoStruxure platform.

Strong links in the chain 
EcoStruxure for food and beverage delivers value across the entire supply chain in multiple ways: 

• Farmers and agri-businesses can instantly improve profitability and resource management through shared visibility with the manufacturer 
• Manufacturers themselves can use this visibility for insight across the entire supply network, aiding in operational and strategic decisions for maximised profitability and minimal waste 
• Warehouse and logistics can ensure process, control, and optimisation of operations from receipt to shipping of products
• Retailers can ensure the right information related to the product is available for full traceability and stock management 
With each link in the chain optimised, and through shared visibility, the F&B supply chain can operate at a new level of sustainability. The impacts and benefits of this reach far beyond profitability and ensure this integral sector can continue producing the required food and beverage that the world needs at a price shoppers can afford while using less energy and reducing negative environmental impact. 

No matter where you sit on the food and beverage supply chain, EcoStruxure from Schneider Electric builds resilience and improvements across the board. This digital solution offers a pathway to greater yield increased productivity, more efficient use of energy and an improvement in data accuracy of up to 17%. Whatever the future holds, such improvements lie at the heart of a sustainable sector fit to feed the world.

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