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Power Lunch: How the Food & Beverage Industry Is Leveraging IIoT

June 1, 2023
Guest Opinion: The Industrial Internet of Things is the key to machine health reporting.
We are seeing increased interest in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) from many customers in the food & beverage industry. This is driven by the potential savings from improved reliability and greater visibility into the real-time health of production machinery.

IIoT and reliability management are not new topics, and machinery health reporting has been a part of Motion’s business for several years. However, our early-adoption customers were in industries such as mining and steel production with extremely expensive and critical assets.

The results have been shared over the past few years, and the technology is now widely embraced by the food & beverage industry. In fact, Motion has recently supported a food & beverage manufacturer in achieving over $1 million in cost savings with the adoption of condition monitoring devices.

Technology is evolving rapidly to move IIoT into the mainstream for all applications rather than just the most critical assets in a manufacturing plant. With larger corporate customers, reliability and IIoT are topics of high interest. North American food & beverage manufacturers are continuously looking for ways to optimize production, reduce waste and improve efficiencies.

Many rotating equipment manufacturers now offer smart IIoT solutions integrated with their mechanical products. Typical IIoT applications in the food & beverage industry include conveying equipment, bottling lines or any in-plant application that includes rotating equipment.

The IIoT solution includes the sensors, gateways and technology to interpret the data, giving insights into the asset’s health. Some components have embedded factory-provided sensors; existing equipment often can be retrofitted with aftermarket sensors. Best results come when all these different assets are aggregated into a single dashboard that allows customers to visualize all their assets through a “digital twin” view of their facility.

For example, if a food processor’s plant layout consists of several processing lines with conveyors and handling equipment, we could upload the individual schematic of its facility into Motion’s P2MRO (predictive performance system). With sensors enabled on the motors, gearboxes and bearings on the conveyors, the plant gets a digital view of its production lines and receives alerts whenever equipment has excess temperature or vibration. These alerts notify the proper plant personnel of any problems via email or text.

One challenge for some companies is securely getting the real-time sensor data out of their facility. With the evolution of new products, we leverage air-gapped technology with cellular gateways to eliminate concerns about secure in-plant IT networks. For simple applications, there are also new retrofit IIoT products with internal intelligence to learn and identify alarms. They can use light towers to indicate issues directly at the pieces of equipment.

The IIoT and traceability market in the food & beverage industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.89% from 2021 to 2027, according to a report from Research and Markets. The increasing demand for food safety, quality and traceability, as well as the need for cost-effective production, is driving IIoT market growth.

About the Author

James Howe | Executive Vice President – Chief Commercial Officer/Chief Technology Officer

James Howe is Executive Vice President – Chief Commercial Officer/Chief Technology Officer at Motion. He has more than 25 years of experience in the industrial distribution market. Howe has overseen the development of all aspects of Motion digital programs and pricing strategy using data science and internal processes. He leads his teams to continually offer the best digital experience for customers.

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