A rapidly growing urban population and increased consumer awareness regarding sustainability are prompting food and beverage companies and manufacturers to employ digital solutions to ensure product quality, according to a study produced by Frost & Sullivan, Santa Clara, Calif. In fact, they have continuously invested in technological innovations with a focus on food processing, safety and packaging to distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies such as Big Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to play a huge role in accelerating and streamlining the manufacturing process through advanced automation and analytics.

"Although a late adopter of IIoT, the food and beverage industry is showing great eagerness to digitize its assets due to the rising need for traceability," says Nandini Natarajan, senior research analyst, industrial team. "IIoT will allow food and beverage manufacturers to collaborate and connect across different stakeholders involved in various stages of the food value chain. It enables seamless exchange of information and goods in different directions, unlike with traditional methods where only linear, unidirectional flow was possible."

The study, “Food & Beverages 4.0, 2018,” identifies the ways in which IIoT can be implemented across all stakeholders in the food value chain, and examines some of the top technology trends shaping the industry. Supported by established use cases, it covers the prospective value of investments and the ways in which they have been distributed in the industry ecosystem.

"As a first step toward digital transformation, food and beverage companies are integrating sensors directly into their legacy assets and configuring them to broadcast data to the cloud for monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics," says Natarajan. "They are also employing a direct sampling procedure from automated plant equipment for real-time visibility into quality measurement. Meanwhile, some companies are investing in in-line quality data recording through inspection procedures."

IIoT will find wider application opportunities in this industry by:

  • Developing new business models that focus on data, connectivity and customer centricity along with data security.
  • Focusing on simple, easy-to-use products and integrated end-to-end solutions.
  • Partnering with select third-party applications.
  • Offering technically advanced packaging solutions that ensure sustainability without compromising on the nutrition of the foods.