The Factory of the Future: Intelligent, Interactive and Integrated
Automation introduced into factories made cheaper and faster ways to produce a wide variety of products and that’s about to climb exponentially.
Food and beverage manufacturers are continuously trying to keep up with consumer demands and deliver goods of increased variety, in perfect condition and faster – all without increasing costs. With ever increasing competition, finding ways to increase operational flexibility while reducing cost is vital.
“Today, typical challenges in the food & beverage industry are around 4 key topics – Productivity with reduced downtime and material losses, Flexibility to produce more variety of products at minimised additional cost, Food safety and Quality to secure brand promise and value to consumers and finding new ways to connect to the consumers,” says Bobby Venugopal, Processing Director – Tetra Pak South Asia.
The good news is that with Industry 4.0 which made up of advanced technologies, the solutions are flexible and intelligent and fully autonomous. Automation isn’t new for the manufacturing industry, but it’s at a point now where it is beginning to transform the way factories operate. Since automation was introduced into factories, it’s made it cheaper and faster to produce a wide variety of products and that’s about to climb exponentially. Automation can span across the entire manufacturing plant and appear in a variety of forms from loading, unloading, kitting, inspection, quality assurance, and more. For example, a self-driving vehicle used for material handling can be integrated into the facilities’ ERP system, which calls it to the loading dock automatically. Once materials are loaded on the vehicle, it is assigned a work order (through the ERP) and moves the material to the next destination. It does not use any infrastructure and dynamically moves through the facility to the destination point, taking the most direct route. It uses a combination of sensors and artificial intelligence to ensure it arrives safely and avoids all obstacles on the way. Advanced capabilities are just starting to enter the industry, which – when incorporated into plants – will allow machines to identify defects on their own and course-correct mid cycle. Similarly, predictive analytics are beginning to branch into factories; they’ll make predictions about unknown events in the process or facility by using data mining, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to analyze current data. These are some of the ways of how Industry 4.0 can work, but there are countless others.
These smart solutions, enable the end user to make real time, decentralized decisions about the production capabilities of his or her manufacturing facility, thereby creating a connected and digitized “smart plant”,
Tetra Pak solutions are developed by bringing together different technologies to deliver tangible benefits to customers in many different areas. Tetra Pak has been working on the digitalisation of food manufacturing with partners including Microsoft, ABB, SAP and the automated logistics solutions provider Elettric80. Combining these cutting-edge technologies with the company’s food expertise, Tetra Pak’s will support the digital transformation of food manufacturing for its customers in F&B industry.
“Future Smart Factory will leverage elements of Industry 4.0, such as using predictive analytics and machine learning to reduce planned and unplanned downtime, assist predictive maintenance and support reliable production. And this begins even before the plant is actually up and running,” adds Venugopal.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for enhanced customer experience
Industry has come a long way from presenting 2-D models of a plant floor to a potential customer to help them visualize what the plant could look like. In the age of VR and AR, Tetra Pak is deploying this technology to help potential customers to visualize the plant by having virtual walk-throughs of their future plant. On the other hand, using tools like the Microsoft Holo Lens and the technical expertise, a Tetra Pak executive can visualize any potential barriers or challenges that may come up during installation at the design stage itself. Pre-empting such challenges can significantly improve efficiencies during the installation phase
Predictive Maintenance to boost productivity
One of the most important ways to boost productivity is Predictive Maintenance which helps predict equipment failures, and essentially helps address the issue even before it has occurred. Sudden failure of critical components in machines can significantly hamper production, and jeopardize food safety, especially in case of perishable food products. It can therefore result both in commercial losses, as well as in food wastage. That said, replacing a component too early in its life-cycle can also be a very expensive proposition for F&B players. It needs to be replaced at the ‘optimal’ point in its lifecycle to ensure that we avoid break-downs without compromising on the component’s overall productivity.
Case - An aseptic filling machine at the customer’s plant includes a critical pump that handles hydrogen peroxide at very high temperatures. This is used for sterilization of packaging material before the beverage is filled. A Tetra Pak expert in Europe who monitors this plant (along with thousands of other equipment across the world) alerted the India team about a potential issue with the pump, and it was resolved immediately. Using Predictive Maintenance, Tetra Pak was able to prevent ‘unscheduled’ breakdown - which could have resulted in approx 24 hours of downtime, and a loss of production of approx 5,00,000 packs, and was able to resolve this as part of ‘scheduled maintenance activities’ instead within the production schedule. Any further damage to the pump and pump motor - which could result in even longer downtime, and potential impact on other parts of the machines was avoided.
Remote monitoring through a connected workforce
Tetra Pak’s customers operate in a complex landscape where quality is essential and production lines are sophisticated. This is even more pronounced in a country like India where customer plants are often located in remote areas and may not have easy access to expert engineers to help resolve issues on the equipment. Even in centrally located areas, the scale and nature of the problem may require an expert based in another city/country, leading to huge travel-related costs.
Using the disruptive innovation of Microsoft HoloLens, Tetra Pak also has the ability to bring the specialist from across the world virtually to the customer plant. This completely transforms the delivery of our services and enables quick resolution of quality issues.
Case – A customer’s filling machine was not starting up and getting into the sterilization phase and an alarm was being triggered. The local engineer was unable to identify the source of the issue and needed expert advice. The Tetra Pak engineer at the customer, wearing a Holo Lens, immediately reached out to experienced engineers at our Chakan facility giving them a real-time view of the machine. The engineers at Chakan (Pune) were able to spot the possible location of the problem and helped the on-site engineer resolve the issue in under 60 mins. Through remote monitoring capabilities, the team was able to reach the right experts at the right time, the team avoided a possible downtime of 1.5 days which it would’ve taken for an expert to be brought in from a different part of the country, and for him to diagnose the problem, followed by resolution - this could have led to significant production losses (approx. 200,000 packs). The loss would’ve been even higher of an expert needed to be brought in from a different country. At the time of the breakdown, the machine was holding over 1.3 lakh litres of milk which could have been compromised in absence of a quick resolution.
With Tetra Pak’s Industry 4.0 services covering every aspect of food and beverage production, F&B brands will be able to improve performance, optimise costs, and ensure food safety throughout the lifecycle of a product’s operation. The journey towards fully embracing Industry 4.0 has begun, and the possibilities are endless.