Modernizing Food and Beverage Manufacturing

On one hand, we can view this trend with a massive sigh of relief, considering the challenges the industry faced in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, it poses a variety of challenges for food and beverage manufacturers that aren’t ready to take advantage of these opportunities.

Quality Digest


Published: Monday, August 14, 2023 – 12:03

Although many of these modernization efforts are currently optional, it’s a mistake to believe they will remain so. The world’s increasing emphasis on ESG issues is steadily creating an environment that, while still patchy, is becoming more stringent every day.

Such manufacturers will have competing priorities, ranging from product diversification to product quality and ingredient traceability, as well as output efficiency and conformance to an evolving environmental, social, and governance (ESG) regulatory landscape. It’s a lot to manage for companies of any size.

Although embracing the full scale of ESG can be daunting, starting small pays dividends. Digitization and IoT integration, for example, will go a long way toward ensuring that ESG-related data are properly collected, stored, and organized, which can be especially helpful for reporting to regulators and investors.

Nearly all major food and beverage manufacturers use automation in their production lines, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are one of the most widely used automation technologies in this industry. However, traditional PLC operations have been pushed to the breaking point as product demands have increased during the past 10 years, especially when it comes to packaging processes.

For example, although new ESG standards issued by the European Union will not be implemented until 2024, investors and ESG-conscious consumers are already putting pressure on businesses, including food and beverage manufacturers. According to a recent report from Bain and Co. and the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA), 93% of investors said they would walk away from an investment if it posed an ESG concern. So, the longer manufacturers wait, the more costly the consequences could be.

Schneider Electric’s PacDrive 3 automation solution has a centralized system architecture that’s ideal for controlling a broad range of servo-driven production and packaging machines, as well as material-handling equipment and robotics.

Luckily, with so many advanced products and proven strategies that manufacturers can adopt, they have the opportunity to dive headfirst into a digital transformation that will drastically increase efficiencies, improve product quality, and in the long term reduce costs and maximize profit margins—all without losing sight of the priorities they must maintain to succeed.

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To ensure regulatory compliance and prevent data loss, use recording devices that save data in a secure, uneditable file format that has built-in data storage capabilities.

Embrace ESG initiatives

For more information, or for assistance identifying solutions that can help you modernize your food and beverage manufacturing processes, contact our technical product support team.

Manufacturers interested in upgrading their processes have a couple of options. They can replace their PLCs with an entirely new generation of high-performance robotic and machine controllers with PLC sequence capability, or upgrade their current systems with solutions including expansion modules and smart relays. Replacing traditional PLCs with high-performance, multifunctional controllers supports more complex applications at higher speeds while saving factory space. These solutions require more of an upfront investment than upgrading existing PLCs with supplementary devices, but they also deliver greater production and profitability improvements. So, manufacturers should carefully evaluate their application demands, goals, and budgets to determine which solution will work best for them.

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The food and beverage industry is currently growing at 8.7% and is projected to be worth $8.9 trillion by 2026, according to Research and Markets’ 2022 report on the global food and beverage market. This growth presents opportunities and challenges for manufacturers, many of which must modernize production lines within the next three years to remain competitive and compliant.

When choosing the right recording product for the food and beverage industry, there are a few things to keep in mind. Due to the health-sensitive nature of these products, food and beverage manufacturers must comply with a variety of standards and regulations, including ISO 2200, FSSC 22000, and Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations. These governing bodies require that recording systems save information in a way that can’t be altered. Some recorders, such as standard PLCs, save data in a CSV file that, while easy to import into a spreadsheet, isn’t tamperproof and has no way of logging that changes occurred. Others record the data over communication lines rather than directly onto a product. So, if communications capabilities are lost for any reason, the data would also be lost.

Although there are a ton of opportunities for process modernization in the food and beverage industry, manufacturers at the beginning of their transformational journey can focus on four points to start making serious headway toward remaining competitive and compliant. They can update their robotic and machine controls, leverage IIoT technologies, digitize their data, and embrace ESG initiatives.

First published June 19, 2023, on; submitted by RS.