As a global leader in food processing and packaging in more than 175 countries, we have long invested in our automation and service offering to improve product protection and drive manufacturing performance. As an end-to-end solutions provider, we focus on system integration and the application of digital technologies right the way across the value chain. 2016 has been a particularly busy year for this aspect of our work.
In November 2016, we launched a new version of Tetra Pak® PlantMaster, the world’s most advanced plant automation and information solution specifically designed for the food industry (see page 21). It enables manufacturers to programme and integrate the operations of an entire plant through a single data management system, from raw material coming in one door to finished products going out the other. But even more importantly, it enables value chain integration, connecting processing and packaging, and securing tracking and full traceability – a key element of product safety and a major customer concern. With the new software, the time taken to produce traceability reports is cut from hours to seconds.
Picture the scene. A truck is being unloaded when a few drops of liquid are spotted under a pallet. That pallet is inspected, leading to the discovery of two blown packages. As result, the whole truck – carrying some 25,000 packages – is loaded up again and returned. With better traceability and better recall management, such costly incidents needn’t occur.
Machine-assisted quality sampling (MAQS) is a unique Tetra Pak toolkit for measuring aseptic performance, collecting sampling data and making it available for analysis and correlation by the customer and/or us. It helps customers by aiding continuous improvement and monitoring aseptic performance trends, as well as reducing waste. From Q2 2017, MAQS will be available with all new Tetra Pak filling machines.
Embedding automation within our products is another effective way to improve operations and performance management. Machine-mounted sensors send data to our Performance Management Centre, where cloud-based algorithms analyse the machine’s behaviour and predict when failure is likely to occur, and thus when parts need to be replaced. Performance data is also accessible on mobile apps by our field service engineers, enabling remote support.
Digitalisation is not merely about enhancing production performance; there is a human side to it, too. For example, digitalisation – especially in the form of animation, visualisation and virtual reality – is increasingly being used to show customers what goes on inside our machines, making operator training faster and more effective.
Ultimately, digitalisation will also shape how consumers engage with packages. In the future, every package will become a carrier of information, enabling new interactions all the way along the value chain. Producers can already share data with consumers about specific packages; in future, greater producer-consumer interaction will allow our customers to change the way they are marketing their products, creating a dedicated channel to each end consumer.
Many of these advances in digitalisation
will undergo trials in 2017.