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Embracing Digital Transformation with Schneider Electric's Advanced Solutions for Operational Excellence and Sustainability

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

11 December 2023

The Food & Beverage industry has faced its share of challenges in recent years with escalating energy costs, fluctuating supply chains, global unrest, and the unforeseen impacts of the pandemic testing its resilience to the limit. Quality and safety remain at the forefront of retaining consumer trust and improving business.

The Food & Beverage (F&B) industry in the UK is more than important; it's the backbone of daily sustenance and a hugely significant contributor to the economy. As the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, it plays a vital role in feeding the nation and contains many treasured, household-name brands, large and small. However, the industry has faced its share of challenges in recent years with escalating energy costs, fluctuating supply chains, global unrest, and the unforeseen impacts of the pandemic testing its resilience to the limit. Amidst these trials, one element remains crucial and constant - the unwavering need for high product quality. In the F&B sector, product quality transcends consumer satisfaction; it's a matter of safety, compliance, and brand reputation. It is vital to consumer trust and improving it is very good for business.

Even long before the era of digitalisation in manufacturing processes, manufacturers have built reputations on delivering the highest standards of quality. And for good reason. The risks associated with poor or inconsistent quality range from direct business losses - wastage of raw materials, energy, and valuable production time, to the nightmare of product recalls, huge reputational damage and potentially even public health hazards. The aftermath of recalls and associated brand damage is eroded consumer trust, and a long road to recovery. Thus, maintaining the highest levels of product quality is not just an operational goal but a strategic imperative for every F&B manufacturer, whether a local boutique manufacturer or a huge global brand.

In the ever changing and fast-moving world of F&B manufacture, the ability to pre-emptively address quality issues is starting to result in big strides forward for both product consistency and profitability. Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture offers a case-in-point example of how to integrate the latest digitalisation capabilities into a single cohesive environment and transforms how manufacturers manage and ensure product quality. Its real-time monitoring capabilities help manufacturers automate a constant vigil on critical parameters like temperature, humidity, and pressure, and alerts operators to deviations from quality norms instantaneously. This immediate insight allows for swift corrective actions, preventing the production of defective products and safeguarding against potential quality lapses. Moreover, EcoStruxure simplifies adherence to rigorous regulatory standards with automated data recording and process tracking that allows manufacturers to demonstrate compliance simply and showcase a consistent and reliable production process that meets both regulatory and consumer quality expectations.

The intersection of asset maintenance and product quality is also a critical element for consideration. Defective machinery inevitably leads to compromised product standards and it’s here again that digital transformation technologies like EcoStruxure prove their value. By leveraging real-time data and predictive analytics, F&B manufacturers have the information to anticipate and resolve potential equipment issues before they impact product quality. This proactive approach ensures that production lines run smoothly, and products meet consistent quality standards. Additionally, the advanced monitoring made possible by EcoStruxure extends to the products themselves and with the use of the right sensors and imaging technologies can help detect anomalies, enabling manufacturers to identify and rectify potential quality issues in real-time, ensuring only the highest quality products proceed down the line.

In today’s conscious consumer market, the origin and journey of food products are almost as important as their quality. EcoStruxure enhances traceability, providing a transparent view of the entire production and supply chain process. This end-to-end visibility ensures that if an issue arises, its source can be quickly identified and addressed. Whether it's an ingredient quality issue or a manufacturing hiccup, having robust traceability tools means that F&B manufacturers can maintain the integrity of their products while reducing wastage when an issue with a particular raw material (for example) is discovered. This level of traceability not only assures consumers of product quality but also fortifies the brand's reputation for transparency and accountability.

In the competitive and fast-paced F&B industry, maintaining and ensuring product quality has always been important but is rapidly becoming an important differentiator in terms of productivity too. Schneider Electric's EcoStruxure architecture offers a comprehensive solution to many of the challenges of product quality management. From predictive maintenance to enhanced traceability, EcoStruxure enables F&B manufacturers to take significant strides towards simplified compliance, reduced waste, more resilient supply chains and improved profitability. The capabilities, simple integration, open standards and flexibility offers manufacturers of all sizes a boost in quality levels, associated efficiency improvements, and the peace of mind that their products meet and exceed the ever-increasing expectations of regulators and consumers alike. Find out more here:

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