Automation Trends in Food and Beverage Industry in India
Published by : Industrial Automation
Manu Tiwari offers a perspective on competition, increasing consumer demand driving automation in the food and beverage (F&B) industry in India.
The Indian food processing market was worth INR 27,452 billion in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has created an atmosphere of uncertainty in 2020. However, it is estimated that future growth will be strong, mainly driven by a surge in domestic demand, rising exports and increasing investments and government support.
Today, food manufacturers across the country are under pressure to increase profits and reduce costs. The industry has to comply with FDA and other regulations that ensure food safety and quality. The industry handles large volumes of products, and to produce high-quality and consistent products, the country's leading players in the segment have gradually started implementing automation in their plants.
Key factors fuelling the growth of automation in F&B
1- Fierce competition among various food companies, forcing players to introduce world-class manufacturing practices.
2- Increasing customer demand for supreme-quality food products.
3-With health and hygiene becoming the main concern in today's world, reducing human intervention as much as possible is the distinguishing element to choose a particular brand.
Benefits of automation in F&B industry
Traceability is highly critical for the food and beverage industry, especially during product recalls. Automation significantly improves traceability, which provides valuable data to manufacturers to ensure regulatory compliance, and brings down the compliance cost. This data also helps in identifying and troubleshooting the issues in the supply chain, thus supporting continuous enhancement of overall quality, safety, and profitability.
Consistency is crucial for the food and beverage industry. Customers would buy the same product again if they have the same texture, flavour, taste, and other characteristics that they liked. Through automation, product consistency is achieved, thus safeguarding the brand's reputation. Also, automation improves quality by streamlining the production process and reducing the risk of product recalls.
Emphasis on Personnel Safety
When hazardous tasks such as picking up heavy objects and other potentially dangerous or monotonous tasks are performed by robots and other automation solutions, the safety and welfare of the human workforce are addressed.
Automation allows manufacturers to be more quick and agile and adapt to changing production needs, such as retooling for new products, changing regulatory compliance requirements, etc. The desired changes are programmed into the automation software, hence eliminating the need for personnel training.
Predictive maintenance is a bonus that comes along with automation. Real-time data is used to identify potential issues and send alerts when maintenance is needed, further eliminating production downtimes.
The latest automation developments in the F&B industry include:
1- The major automation applications in the food & beverage industry have been observed in the supply chain and logistics segment, owing to the growing pace and scale of business.
2- Before, the major chunk of investment for automation went into food processing. However, currently, the focus is more on food packaging, cartoning and distribution management of the whole warehouse automatically. An automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) is one of the most successful processes to efficiently automate warehousing.
3- Automation trends in India are geared towards centralisation, such as setting up central control rooms for monitoring and controlling operations.
4- A growing trend is the automation of packaging lines to improve the speed and accuracy of packing.
5- Other areas of automation in the food and beverage industry are quality testing/inspection and integration of all machines into a SCADA or PLC-based controllers that can be remotely controlled and monitored to improve manpower productivity and reduce process deviations.
6- Industry players are using digitalisation for backward integration and to monitor their forward linkages.
Industry 4.0 and IoT integration support manufacturing systems to generate necessary analytics to self-correct the processes. Similarly, Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud computing help with real-time analysis and quick decision-making.
Automation during Covid-19
With the current Covid-19 pandemic scenario, the use of automated systems can ensure continued manufacturing and supply of food products with minimal human movement. Auto controls and digital twins give the virtual operations controls to perform hygiene and closed-room operations, without human intervention. A fully automated system can also ensure a complete sterilisation and disinfection process.
The last word
Automation and robotics in the food and beverage industry in India are not being widely applied but are heading in that direction, especially as the sector transforms in terms of demand and becomes a multi-brand market. Companies in the industry need to opt for a defined approach to implement the right automation and digitalisation strategy. It is pivotal for them to be aware of the challenges that stand in the way to overcome them and rise to global standards.
Manu Tiwari is an Industry Principal for Measurement & Instrumentation Practice for the Middle East and South Asia. At Frost & Sullivan, he has been responsible for Strategy Consulting, Stakeholder engagement, Project management and Business Development. Manu has more than 13 years of experience in helping clients grow their business through insights on market trends, growth opportunities, channel partnerships, go-to-market insights, new business models, effective marketing techniques, disruptive technologies & mega trends. His expertise includes devising short- and long-term growth strategies, business plans and forecasting models for clients to advance market share and achieve profitable growth. He has worked in Electronics, Semiconductors, Consumer Electronics & Appliances, Mobile Phones, LED & LCD Lighting, Video Surveillance & Security, IoT, Connected Applications, Facility Management and related industry segments.