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Edge Computing: A Key Ingredient to Food Traceability and More for Food and Beverage Companies

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Lieutenant Lieutenant

Edge Computing: A Key Ingredient to Food Traceability and More for Food and Beverage Companies

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If edge computing isn’t yet an important factor for Food and Beverage companies’ operations, it needs to be…


Edge computing is a computing model that puts data storage closer to the devices that create it (or depend on it) in their operations. Its oft-touted benefits of saving bandwidth and reducing latency can’t be overstated.


Furthermore, many of the most critical considerations for F&B companies – including food traceability, operational efficiency, sustainability, and worker safety goals – hinge on having adequate compute resources at the industrial edge.


For companies to deploy solutions that monitor and control systems both in plants as well as up and down the supply chain for traceability in food and agricultural products (and more), putting data as close to the end user as possible is critical. EcoStruxure for Food and Beverage and AVEVA software offer easy, actionable insights to optimize end-to-end operations – and edge computing is an integral part of the IT system in which they operate.


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The 5 Benefits of Edge Computing for Food and Beverage Companies


When food and beverage companies commit to accelerating their digital transformations, they position themselves to gain competitive advantage through streamlined operations, sustainable business practices, and more.


Digital transformation involves the use of intelligent devices and sensors to collect data on equipment and processes employed in the food and beverage business. The idea is to bring new efficiencies to each step, from farms and manufacturing, to supply chain and delivery to retailers.


Read on for a list of the 5 areas in which F&B companies stand to make significant gains.


1. Maximized asset values


IoT-enabled predictive maintenance requires efficient use of compute resources through edge computing. When done correctly, it results in sizeable savings for food and beverage companies.


Together with big data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) technology can help food and beverage companies realize capital expense (CapEx) savings of up to 30%…How? When you’ve instrumented your equipment so that it can produce data on its health, you enable predictive maintenance that both reduces downtime and maximizes the life of the asset. By comparing current data with a set baseline, companies can determine when a given piece of equipment isn’t performing as it should, in time to schedule maintenance.


This approach ensures equipment is always at peak performance and extends the life of these valuable assets – and it’s one of the most compelling ways to leverage edge computing.


2. Improved operational efficiency


The volume of data to which F&B companies must be accountable across the supply chain can feel overwhelming – and it can easily become unmanageable when the wrong digital resources are deployed.


As an example, the number of stock keeping units (SKUs) your company deals with is constantly increasing—and each SKU has many data points connected to it describing each batch, raw materials, production runs and so on. The result is literally millions of data points to keep track of.


What’s more, data on many processes – such as packaging lines – needs to be processed in real time, or close to it. Implementing on-site compute and software solutions can transform operations to improve efficiency, profitability and yield, while boosting flexibility to meet market demands. Digital technologies and smart use of edge technologies are required to keep up.


3. Quality and compliance


Product data is critical for keeping track of product quality and staying in compliance with various government regulations. On top of this, food and beverage companies are under pressure to be completely transparent about ingredient sources, so the need for granular levels of food traceability throughout the supply chain – from farm to fork – is extremely high.


Digital technologies – including those that leverage IoT edge computing – can help companies meet these challenges while increasing product data accuracy up to 17%.


4. Energy usage and sustainability goals


Given the rise of corporate social responsibility initiatives, food and beverage companies that can prove their commitment to sustainability are helping both the world and their bottom line.


Considering the obvious financial incentives toward operational efficiency and global advocacy efforts for sustainable business practices, food and beverage companies have a unique opportunity to streamline their processes by deploying IoT-enabled equipment and innovative edge computing technologies toward that end.


When you do this, you’re able to both meet your numbers AND have reliable metrics that affirm your commitment to sustainability. Using edge technologies and digital products to optimize use of utilities, including energy and water, is one area that can deliver significant savings. It’s not uncommon to see energy consumption reduced by 35%.


5. Improved site safety and empowered workers


Robust digital technologies that rely on the efficiency of edge computing also help food and beverage companies prioritize the safety, training and professional development of their workforces. Through immersive trainings that provide workers with real-time information and digital tools for better operations decisions and easier maintenance, F&B companies can leverage technology to empower workers and enhance their professional competencies.


Immersive technologies – such as augmented reality and operating training simulators –  have been shown to deliver increases in efficiency, safety and productivity among staff. A survey of more than 600 companies by Capgemini Research Institute found more than 75% of companies with large-scale augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) implementations report operational benefits greater than 10% stemming from increased efficiency, productivity, and safety.


How’s it all connect to edge computing? With augmented reality and virtual reality trainings at F&B plants, the success of these trainings often comes down to minimizing latency so that virtually reproduced environments can be rendered quickly and correctly for the end user. When the computing is conducted at the edge (and closer to the end user), companies can better ensure their AR/VR trainings run smoothly.


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Digital Transformation Demands Industrial Edge Data Centers


Transformational technology can bring all these benefits to food and beverage companies – you can find out about how companies are maximizing their use of edge technologies on our Industrial Edge Computing Blog


But given the real-time nature of these applications – and regulations that often require data to be stored locally – industrial edge data centers will likely be required. Think of industrial edge data centers as the bridge to help you usher in digital transformation to achieve increased worker safety, operational efficiency and sustainability.


What types of solutions are needed at the industrial edge? Food and beverage companies will need to turn to solutions that can be used to monitor and control systems not just in plants, but up and down the supply chain. An example of solutions that offer easy, actionable insights to optimize end-to-end operations are EcoStruxure for Food and Beverage and AVEVA's software.


In addition, micro data center solutions enable the reliable and secure operation of IT equipment in non-IT environments. One example of an applicable micro data center is Schneider Electric’s new compact EcoStruxure Micro Data Center C-Series. Features include:


  • Integrated uninterruptible power supply (UPS), protocol data unit (PDU) and security
  • Enclosure is 60% less intrusive than previous models yet big enough to support large edge servers.

By adopting digital transformation technologies that rely on IoT edge computing, companies in the food and beverage industry are poised to address some longstanding pain points that will bring significant bottom-line benefits as well as gains in meeting sustainability and worker safety goals.


Curious to know how others are tackling these challenges every day? Join our Solutions for Food and Beverage Community




Originally posted on SE Blog & authored by @Paolo_Colombo 

2 Replies 2
Lieutenant Lieutenant

Re: How can Food & Beverage Companies benefit from the Industrial Edge?

@MClotteau thanks for sharing. 

Industrial Channels go to market Director
Secure Power Division - Commercial & Industrial

Those who can imagine anything, can create the impossible. (Alan Turing)
Administrator Administrator

Re: How can Food & Beverage Companies benefit from the Industrial Edge?

Interesting. Thanks