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  • Hugo Walker

Industry 5.0 and the Food & Beverage Industry

Keith Thornhill, Head of Food and Beverages at Siemens, discusses the role of Industry 5.0 in the F&B industry.

The pandemic has laid bare the importance of technology to facilitate connection and foster resilience in businesses. As technological solutions have become central in our lives, many businesses - whether small or large - have prioritised the adoption of technology in both production and distribution processes.

As Keith Thornhill explains: "As we take a closer look at digitalisation, one thing is clear: the central role of connectivity. Whether you are a large manufacturer or a small business, connectivity remains at the centre of technology transformation. And the core of this digitalisation is how Edge or Cloud can help operators gather data on their operations to gain valuable insight on their operations."

Industry 4.0 — the buzzword encapsulating the drive to automate and digitalise business processes — has revolutionised the ways businesses operate, particularly the food and beverage industry following the Covid pandemic. But automation is only one step toward the optimization of production processes. What many businesses are concerned with is what to do with their data.

Industry 4.0 vs. 5.0

Just as businesses have caught up to the concept of 'Industry 4.0', another buzzword has emerged on the scene: Industry 5.0. While 4.0 mainly refers to the processes of automation, 5.0 is focused on how to process the plethora of data which involves AI, machine learning and other data processing technologies.

Mr Thornhill added: "As the industry slowly adapts to industry 4.0 it cannot ignore industry 5.0. The former allows machines in the workplace to get smarter and more connected, the latter is aimed at merging the cognitive computing capabilities with human intelligence and resourcefulness in collaborative operations.

Today’s factories, whatever their size, are becoming huge data centres with great potential for collecting valuable insights on any area of factory operations, from production through-puts to machines usage, availability and set-up. And with this, manufacturers are (gradually) increasingly understanding the need to process this production data on an even larger scale."

Leveraging data

Despite food and beverage production plants being centres of mass amounts of potential data, businesses are still on their journeys to effectively collecting and leveraging that data.

"Recent research by Siemens in the UK and Ireland found that 81% of food and beverage manufacturers are exploring more ways of capturing, managing and analysing production line data,” continues Mr Thornhill, “but despite high uptake and good intentions, just 38% of manufacturers agreed that they had ‘somewhat’ achieved data maturity."

The research also showed that manufacturers have clear strategic priorities, with over half focusing on delivering quality, 44% focused on cost reduction and 37% focused on agility. Technology like 5G could enable and become a boost to digitalisation, however, the industry still needs to start with laying the basic foundations in their factory floors.

This just means that our industry needs to buckle up and accelerate the adoption of technology and lay the foundation before considering the latest technologies like 5G."

Industry 4.0 and 5.0 are the stabilisers which provide businesses with resilience against turbulence - the pandemic, volatile supply chains and unpredictable external shocks. But to leverage both in a fast-changing digital world will require commitment from F&B businesses to constantly adapt.


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