Industries in the Food Manufacturing subsector transform livestock and agricultural products into products for intermediate or final consumption. The industry groups are distinguished by the raw materials (generally of animal or vegetable origin) processed into food products.The food products manufactured in these establishments are typically sold to wholesalers or retailers for distribution to consumers, but establishments primarily engaged in retailing bakery and candy products made on the premises not for immediate consumption are included.
High-Speed Flow-Wrapper Loading of Cupcakes
Automation helps bakers make the most of ingredients
While many bakers hope and anticipate raw material costs will ease in 2023, that future is not now. Ingredient costs remain high, especially when it comes to premium ingredients such as dairy, eggs and sugar. While product loss and waste is never desirable, at these prices, waste just got unaffordable. And this isn’t limited to ingredient costs either. The price of labor itself has indulgent products like sweet goods costing more to produce these days. Manufacturers of these products are looking for ways to reduce waste and improve production efficiencies to bring these costs in line.
“Automation is the answer here,” said Hans Besems, executive product manager, AMF Tromp, an AMF Bakery Systems brand. “We can automate almost the complete process and take over where human labor is hard to find or where it is too intensive. An automated process eliminates many opportunities for finished product to fall out of spec, but it’s critical that the dough being fed to the makeup line is consistent.”
“With smart technologies and AI, AMF Tromp uses vision technology to evaluate every single product in real time, and by machine learning the Tromp machines will adapt automatically, resulting in almost no waste and perfect products repeatedly,” Mr. Besems said.
AI and the chocolate factory
“After about 72 hours of training with the digital twin (on a standard computer; about 24 hours on computer clusters in the cloud), the AI is ready to control the real machine. That’s definitely much faster than humans developing these control algorithms,” Bischoff says. Using reinforcement learning, the AI has developed a solution strategy in which all the chocolate bars on the front conveyor belts are transported on as quickly as possible and the exact speed is only controlled on the last conveyor belt - is interestingly quite different from that of a conventional control system.
The researchers led by Martin Bischoff were able to make their approach even more practical by compressing and compiling the trained control models in such a way that they run cycle-synchronously on the Siemens Simatic controllers in real time. Thomas Menzel, who is responsible for the department Digital Machines and Innovation within the business segment Production Machines, sees great potential in the methodology of letting AI learn complex control tasks independently on the digital twin: “Under the name AI Motion Trainer, this method is now helping several co-creation partners to develop application-specific optimized controls in a much shorter time. Production machines are now no longer limited to tasks for which a PLC control program has already been developed but can realize all tasks that can be learned by AI. The integration with our SIMATIC portfolio makes the use of this technology particularly industry-grade.”
This 3-D Printed Icelandic Fish-Gutting Machine Contains the Secret of a Future, Less-Globalized Economy
Tucked away in a nondescript 10,000-square-foot building there is a manufacturing facility that runs 24/7, producing parts for fish-processing machines in a way that was, even a few years ago, impossible. Elliði Hreinsson, the founder of Curio, which owns the building, says the machines he designs and makes would be difficult or in some cases impossible to produce without 3-D printing.
“In Iceland, we are a small stone in the ocean, and we cannot so easily run around to get help,” says Mr. Hreinsson. “You have to be able to do it all in-house.” His machines, which he sells to clients around the world, include more than 100 parts that he prints on seven 3-D printers made by a company called Desktop Metal. Printing the stainless-steel parts this way skips all the steps required for conventional manufacturing, from prototyping to casting or injection molding—the last of which generally happens in Asia, and can add weeks or months to the time between product design and delivery.
High tech meets agriculture in Denmark
The Danish company Nordic Harvest runs Europe’s biggest vertical farm in Denmark. Vertical farming is either the worst method of farming in terms of CO2 emissions, or it’s the best. That all depends on the type of energy used to power the farm – and on the technology used to run it. Denmark sees greenhouse production as a big part of its future. Not only can it feed its own population at less cost and in a more energy-efficient manner, but it can also export some of the technology and know-how. A project, called Greenhouse Industry 4.0, was established to bring in some of the latest technology already used in other industries and apply it to greenhouse production.
Anders Riemann, founder and director of Nordic Harvest, says in a company blog post that the only reason they haven’t moved beyond production of just lettuce, herbs and cabbage is that these are the only plants that are profitable to grow with vertical farming. It is not economically feasible to use vertical farming to grow tomatoes, for example, because it takes too much time and effort for the plant to grow leaves and stems, which cannot be sold. Only after a long period of photosynthesis can tomato plants start bearing the fruit that can be sold. It’s not only technological development that will determine what makes sense to produce in the future. A whole new ecosystem needs to develop around new methods of farming. For example, seeds will be bred so they are suitable for vertical farming.
World's Largest Pasta Production Plant a Showcase for Integrated Robotics and Sustainable Distribution
Barilla’s flagship pasta manufacturing plant in Parma, Italy boasts a 430,000 square foot distribution facility – fully automated, lights-out, 24/7/365 operation – equipped with120 laser-guided vehicles, 37 robotic systems including high-density AS/RS, palletizers, labelers and stretch wrappers, handling 320,000 tons of pasta annually. Designed, manufactured and installed by E80 Group, this distribution facility is not only an example of excellence in integrated robotics systems, but also a showpiece for energy and environmental efficiency.
To realize such an integrated-system and energy-efficient strategy at Barilla’s Parma distribution facility, E80 Group (E80) was selected to design, manufacture and install a solution. E80 is an Italian-based multinational leader specializing in creating automated solutions for companies that produce fast-moving consumer goods, particularly in the food, beverage and tissue sectors. It has been a leading manufacturer of integrated-robotics systems for distribution facilities for almost three decades, specifically laser-guided vehicles (LGVs), robotic palletizers and other end-of-line robotic systems. The company’s latest technology advances have made LGVs particularly attractive for sustainability and reduced energy usage.
How the best steam peelers can significantly reduce food waste on vegetable processing lines
When peeling vegetables, many processing lines waste huge amounts of food – and potential revenue. With modern peeling machines, however, this can be prevented, while also reducing energy costs and water consumption. Eamonn Cullen, Marketing Manager Peeling at TOMRA Food, explains how.
Food waste is financial waste, yet when processing lines peel vegetables, they often let huge amounts of raw material get thrown away. Food losses can be as high as 30% during mechanical peeling and 20% with low-tech steam peelers – and much of this lost revenue is preventable.
How Junior's Bakes 5 Million Cheesecakes During A Cream Cheese Shortage
The Advantages of a Data-Driven Culture for Food Production
Data-driven production does not look the same for every kind of product. The complexity of food and beverage processing puts it in another category that has unique needs for data management. Food processors need a solution that can interact with a range of production workflows, meet compliance and quality standards, bring operations into sync, and equip them for growth.
Data-driven decision-making is even more crucial for food and beverage manufacturers, who are operating in a complex global supply chain with thin margins and plenty of risk. According to CSIMarket, the gross profit margin for the food processing industry in 2022 currently rests at 19.2 per cent, which is lower than other industries (averaging 49.4 per cent). In such an environment, the advantages of quality, workable data for business success is difficult to understate, yielding valuable analytics to drive business agility and providing the means to build capacity in a scalable way for the future marketplace.
Shinkei Systems’ AI-guided fish harvesting is more humane and less wasteful
Fresh fish isn’t really that fresh — even straight off the boat. The way they’re caught and killed is not only inhumane but detrimental to the resulting meat. There’s a far superior alternative, but it’s time-consuming and manual — but Shinkei Systems has figured out a way to automate it, even on the deck of a moving boat and has landed $1.3 million to bring its machine to market.
Ike-jime involves piercing the brain with a sharp spike to send the fish to fish heaven, then quickly exsanguinating it, and after that destroying the spinal cord. Gruesome, yes, but all of these things prevent stress, suffering and the spreading of bacteria and destructive substances through the body. But it has to be done precisely and within a couple minutes of the fish being caught, so it doesn’t really scale. That is, unless you automate it, which is what Shinkei Systems has done. The team, led by founder Saif Khawaja, has created a mechanical means of accomplishing ike-jime on fresh-caught fish, at a rate of one every 10-15 seconds.
How King Arthur Baking Produces 100 Million Pounds of Flour per Year
A hi-tech factory supports circular mushroom production
To grow mushrooms you need a ‘substrate’ – the base material colonised by the fungi’s mycelium from which the edible mushroom flowers. But sourcing substrates is a thorn in the side of commercial exotic mushroom growers, with supply chain issues dogging the market. This is where Belgian startup Eclo comes in. Normally, mushroom substrates are made from a wood base, grains, water, and mycelium. Eclo, by contrast, has found a way to replace the grains with organic waste from breweries and industrial bakeries. Not only is this a good use of recyled material that reduces the demand for virgin grain – the novel substrate is also high-yield, benefitting growers’ bottom lines.
Cultured Meat Is So Close You Can Almost Taste It
The technology of cultured animal meats has come in a very short time. Prices have declined to the point that these products are competitive – although not on parity – with animal products. Pioneer Mosa Meat reportedly spent $280,000 to create the first cultured beef burger in 2013. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies claims to have reduced the production cost of a 4-oz. cultured (but partially plant-based) chicken breast to $7.50, and beef for less than $16 per pound.
Several companies are gearing up to make production quantities of their products. BlueNalu is completing a 40,000-sq.-ft. pilot facility in San Diego “that enables limited volumes under GMP conditions and global best practices in food safety,” a spokesperson told us. Israel’s Future Meat Technologies raised $347 million in investment back in December, the largest single fundraising to date for a company in the cultivated meat space, in part to build a U.S. plant. While Pioneer Memphis Meats, which has rebranded itself as Upside Foods, last November opened its Engineering, Production and Innovation Center (EPIC), claiming the 53,000 sq. ft. facility in Emeryville, Calif., is the most advanced cultivated meat production facility in the world.
High-tech potato-grading line ups profits for Cornish grower
Another problem caused by the older line relates to packers now wanting more specific size grading, particularly for the Gemson and Jazzy salad varieties the farm grows. They also prefer the crop to be delivered stone free, which is a challenge because of the region’s light loam soils having a relatively high small stone content. With their maincrop varieties, such as Electra, this can be addressed in the field, but it is much more difficult to remove on the harvester when using the narrow 28mm webs that are required for the salad crops.
Quality assurance of sausage salad with 3 different inspection solutions
Tyson invests in AI-enabled robotics firm to boost worker productivity
Automating meat factories has long been a difficult feat because it is costly and carcasses come in varying sizes so it can be hard for robots to cut and work with all types accurately. But as the coronavirus ravaged meat plants, forcing many to temporarily shutter as thousands of workers got sick, more companies accelerated their plans for automation. Meat and poultry companies also are automating certain tasks that can be repetitious or prone to injury, such as moving or loading boxes.
Soft Robotics’ SoftAI technology uses AI and 3D vision to maneuver the company’s mGrip robotic grippers with human-like hand-eye coordination. The technology allows the automation of bulk picking for fragile and irregularly shaped proteins, produce and bakery items, according to the company. Tyson Foods is an existing user of Soft Robotics’ software.
Machine learning optimizes real-time inspection of instant noodle packaging
During the production process there are various factors that can potentially lead to the seasoning sachets slipping between two noodle blocks and being cut open by the cutting machine or being packed separately in two packets side by side. Such defective products would result in consumer complaints and damage to the company’s reputation, for which reason delivery of such products to dealers should be reduced as far as possible. Since the machine type upgraded by Tianjin FengYu already produced with a very low error rate before, another aspect of quality control is critical: It must be ensured that only the defective and not the defect-free products are reliably sorted out.
Integrated intelligent technologies optimize yield and increase profits for rice millers
The digitally connected technology provides mill operators with the insights they need to correctly adjust solution settings. Over time, the intelligent system is capable of adjusting autonomously. Where millers were once left to take corrective action after an incident occurred, they can now prevent costly reprocessing steps and proactively manage the entire process. With these advances, the miller can optimize operating costs, quality and yield, all of which have a direct impact on the profit of the mill.
Analysing fruit data in the supply chain has never been more important for business efficiency
Fruit and production data can be used in ways that it has never been done before to improve a company’s efficiency and boost profits, according to global packhouse equipment and automation supplier Tomra Food.
He added that there are several different useful data types at play in a packhouse; production and traceability level data, performance level data, quality data and auditing data. This data can be used to optimise the supply chain and can be used to make decisions and directions in terms of the next big thing that needs to be done. But consumer trends will constantly change the requirements of automation.
Hygienic Thermoformer Loading
Why Meatpacking Plants Have Become Covid-19 Hot Spots
In Texas, the fastest growing Covid-19 outbreak isn’t in Dallas or Houston or San Antonio, the state’s most densely packed metro areas. It’s hundreds of miles to the north, in the dusty, windswept flatlands of Moore County, population 20,000. According to data reported Monday by the state health department, 19 out of 1,000 residents in Moore County have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 — 10 times higher than the infection rates in the state’s largest cities.
So what’s in Moore County that’s making people so sick? One of the nation’s largest beef processing facilities, where huge armies of employees slice, shave, and clean up to 5,000 cattle carcasses a day. Last month, Texas health officials launched an investigation into a cluster of Covid-19 cases linked to the massive meatpacking plant, which is operated by JBS USA, a subsidiary of the largest meat processing company in the world, based in São Paulo, Brazil.
3D printing in metal resulted in fewer bacteria and greater food safety
3D printing in metal was chosen as a solution and Marel quickly began to redesign the support element specifically for 3D printing, so that it took full advantage of the technology’s possibilities. The support element is in direct contact with food, so bacteria can accumulate in all cleaves, joints and openings, and these bacteria can be transferred directly to the meat. That’s why we were really excited about the possibility of 3D printing the support element in one piece, and the weight reduction was also a positive element, as the support element moves MANY times a second, says Matias Taul Hansen, Technical Designer at Marel
3D printing is a much cheaper solution than cutting out the item, and compared to laser cutting, 3D printing is also preferable, as we avoid joints where bacteria can accumulate. By 3D printing in titanium, we also achieve a lower-weight item that is cheaper to produce and that can work faster, says Kristian Rand Henriksen, consultant at the Danish Technological Institute.