Industry 4.0 in the Food and Beverage industry

The practical advantages that the new cyber-physical interface of Industry 4.0 brings are acknowledged by engineers across a range of industries. Jeremy Shinton, Product Manager - Business Solutions at Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V. Automation Systems Division, explains how food and drink manufacturers in particular can benefit from the implementation of Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 can be defined as the development of manufacturing technologies to allow higher levels of interconnectivity, leading to greater communication between machines and decentralised/local processing of data. The result is smart factories in which machinery is increasingly autonomous, so able to manage its own service and maintenance requirements, and adapt instantly to new production requirements.

Food and drink manufacturers could benefit from the implementation of Industry 4.0 even more than most industries.

  • The constant pressure on costs in the food industry means it has a long history of innovating, so is likely to embrace Industry 4.0 quickly and enthusiastically
  • The need for traceability right through the production chain has already ensured that machines are interconnected and archiving data; Industry 4.0 will enhance this
  • Greater flexibility will enable bespoke production for each customer and rapid adaption to changing product specifications
  • Energy usage can be monitored and optimised to new levels

The net result will be improved machine performance, optimised maintenance and reduced costs. This should help win new customers and retain existing ones. It is also likely to create new revenue streams in the form of value-adding services, and allow seamless connectivity with upstream and downstream supply chain partners.

Significantly, Industry 4.0 is not just a "˜big boys' toy'. If anything, it offers even more opportunities for small- and medium-sized food and drink producers, which will be able to form seamless links with their machine builders and technical services suppliers. This will make their production systems just as advanced and sophisticated as those of their larger brethren.

For instance, it will permit the optimisation of preventive maintenance programmes, so that expensive and delay-inducing machine failures are all but designed out. Put another way - the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) strategies that to date have been the preserve of larger companies, will come within reach of all.

We can sum up Industry 4.0 as improving data management through better communication and data collection across all machines in the production chain; instant archiving and data historian functions; real-time analytics; multifunction alarm management; web-publishing; as well as interconnectivity and data transparency throughout the entire value chain.

Most engineers are able to see the practical advantages that the new cyber-physical interface of Industry 4.0 will bring. However, like the internet 20 years ago, or mains electricity a hundred years ago - it will almost certainly over-deliver on expectations by orders of magnitude. This is because while we can foresee the immediate and obvious benefits, far more will almost certainly evolve over time.

To learn more about Industry 4.0 in food and drink manufacturing, go to

Mitsubishi Electric Europe B.V.

Travellers Lane
AL10 8XB

44 17 0727 6100

More technical articles
3 days ago
Cranfield University team up with the RBTX UK team
In this video you can see how Cranfield University and the Igus RBTX team came together, with a snapshot into the recent event that took place.
3 days ago
Lenze opens door to digitalisation at ITMA
Lenze is using ITMA as a platform to showcase how textile machine providers can exploit the opportunities of digitalisation and be ready for future challenges with today’s solutions.
3 days ago
New Norgren website offers extended self-serve functionality
Norgren has launched its enhanced global website, offering customers improved functionality that includes the ability to select, order and track products on a ‘self-serve’ basis.
5 days ago
Spelsberg UK announces nationwide roadshow and open day
Spelsberg UK is excited to announce its “Spelsberg on the Road” roadshow. A state-of-the-art tour bus, equipped with a working showroom, will visit numerous locations across the country beginning late May.
5 days ago
Single controller for robot and machine axes optimises productivity
Installing a robotic pick-and-place and integrated conveyor solution has increased productivity for a pharmaceutical manufacturer while maintaining regulatory compliance. Combining a vision system optimised for accuracy that assures end-to-end traceability, a single controller from Trio manages both the robot and conveyor axes, increasing reliability for the end user.
6 days ago
Schaeffler rewards suppliers for outstanding performance
Schaeffler presented 19 of its suppliers with the Schaeffler Supplier Award at the Supplier Day in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in honour of their exceptional performance.
6 days ago
Educational programme announced for Manufacturing and Engineering Week
With just under two weeks until Manufacturing and Engineering Week 2023 and its centrepiece exhibitions open their doors on 7th and 8th of June at Birmingham’s NEC, the full educational programme has been announced.
6 days ago
Streamlining banding machines for sustainable packaging
When sustainable bundling and banding solutions company Bandall faced the challenge of using different sensors for detecting various product formats, it turned to Omron for a solution.
6 days ago
Acorn partners with Bosch Rexroth
Acorn has announced its appointment as an LT Solution Partner for Bosch Rexroth Linear Motion Technology. Rexroth offers a very wide range of linear motion solutions, from a single component to multi-axis complete systems.
1 week ago
See the latest and greatest in Machine Vision Technology at MVC 2023
Now in its seventh year, the Machine Vision Conference and Exhibition is recognised as the leading machine vision trade show worldwide. This year’s show will feature an exciting range of new machine vision technology including the latest products from leading companies.

Login / Sign up