We’re in the midst of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) revolution and now more than ever, food manufactures should not only be embracing automation and IIoT technology, but looking at their existing solutions to ensure their systems are sustainable and future-proof.
Factory automation and business IT system technologies are converging and it’s up to manufacturers to remain part of that trend to keep up with intense competition. The packaging line, and therefore any AutoCoding system, is one of the areas where this trend applies.
No doubt you’ll have a variety of coders and labellers in your factory – perhaps from different manufacturers – along with check-weighers and metal detectors that all carry out their specific functions throughout the production process. They are likely to work independently of each other and all require manual set-up at the beginning of each job run.
How can you be sure that your factory is running efficiently if all your devices and systems are operating independantly with little or no communication? Additionally, if you’re unable to collect valuable data, how can you measure performance and improve traceability?
If you’re reading this you’re probably already familiar with this frustration and aware that automation technology, such as an AutoCoding system, can improve your packaging line processes. You may already have a similar system in place – but are you confident that your AutoCoding solution can stand the test of time?
To help you decide, here are four key things you should consider when weighing up the best AutoCoding solution to future-proof your factory:
An AutoCoding system should be completely scalable - controlling one device on one line or multiple devices on multiple lines. It’s important that if and when your factory expands, your system can still support you.
Can your AutoCoding solution be extended to include other equipment and integrate seamlessly to other business systems within your factory (e.g ERP, MES, WMS)?
Consider what other modules are available which could be added to your system for more functionality, such as quality compliance, line performance monitoring and inspection reporting.
Consider if the architecture of the solution is compatible with the IoT revolution that is taking shape. Using a system based on technology more than a couple of years old risks you being left behind as the adoption of this methodology takes hold in manufacturing.
Many food manufacturers acknowledge that future efficiency is based on extensive integration and communication between devices and systems. There are systems which go some way to deliver this, but may present barriers such as being locked in to a single vendor's equipment, limited integration with ERP and MES systems and difficulty extending across multiple packaging lines.
Food manufacturers who recognise the importance of IIoT compatible solutions in their factory will bear these points in mind when choosing an AutoCoding system.