Manufacturer explains the effectiveness and communication on various levels in the factory and how technology trends changed with time.
By Rick Farrell, President, Plant-Tours.com
Good communication is essential in every stage of the food production process, seed-to-table and farm-to-fork. Since the food industry relies heavily on technology to make production faster, easier, and safer, manufacturers need to keep an eye out for the latest pieces of equipment. That is because using modern gadgets and technology can help enhance the information flow and efficacy in your factories.
So, what are the top communication trends food manufacturers should be aware of in 2022? How can you use them to send alerts and data across the production chain and make important changes in real-time?
Let’s find out!
Cloud-based technology has become an invaluable asset in many industries, including the food and beverage industry. In fact, in 2020, six out of ten businesses already switched their work to the cloud.
In 2021, there was an increase in labeling software suppliers who gave local labeling software access to data stored in the cloud. That made it easy to get information that was supposed to be placed on label templates throughout the printing process. Also, this technology proved to be quite practical for many employees who had to work from home the same year. It gave them access to crucial data to continue doing their job despite not being present in the factory premises.
In general, cloud-based technology enables food businesses to input and change the necessary data at any time. That way, the whole production process becomes easy and secure, and you can prevent potentially hazardous errors. You can use it to make the communication between employees who stay at home and others who are on-spot quick and efficient.
Industry Internet of Things and Smart Manufacturing
Smart manufacturing is a means for businesses to use data to optimize all aspects of the manufacturing process. RFID and barcode technologies are two data carriers IoT devices most commonly use. This type of device-to-software connection helps send information to the right place while eliminating lengthy manual procedures that cause time loss and more expenses.
So, if you decide to cut the cords and go wireless, you make it easier for your workers to connect, monitor the operations, and exchange data. In return, you get better automation and increased performance.
Electronic Batch Records
With electronic batch records, food companies can log data packets, which makes finding errors a lot easier. This technology helps you quickly locate and fix errors in real-time, streamline data, and reduce human error. Batch also records and manages data related to equipment maintenance records, employees, supplier details, manufacturing processes, and pretty much everything else. If you decide to use it, you will get the benefit of systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), and Process Control Systems (PCS) as well.
State-of-the-Art On-Spot Equipment
Food manufacturers need to use various equipment to ensure employee safety inside a factory. But many still have outdated gear that puts workers at risk and causes communication problems. So, if you want to improve the exchange of information between workers on-spot and avoid potentially hazardous mistakes, you should use only the latest equipment.
For instance, wearable technology can track biometrics, scan codes, detect exposure limits to harmful substances, enable calls, record data, and more. With it, managers can get immediate information and alerts regarding every worker. Also, it makes tracking and getting in touch with employees in a workplace much faster.
Another way to make the communication flow better is to use only top-quality two-way communication headsets. If you regularly update such gear, you make sure the information between workers in your factory goes back and forth without any interruption. That way, you can lower the risk of costly and dangerous misunderstandings.
One of the latest trends that can enhance effectiveness and communication on various levels in your factory is digital signage. Until recently, most food factories used caution lines and similar safety markings and notices in their manufacturing premises. However, this method is pricey and not very suitable for a growing business that needs to make swift changes.
For this reason, it is better to opt for digital signage in factory premises, especially ones where noise can affect verbal communication. With it, you are able to convey vital information to your workforce in a safe and efficient manner. For example, you can use digital signage to notify your employees of some immediate danger, mark out safety perimeters, or inform them of hold-ups on the assembly line.
Transparency and Traceability Systems
Food manufacturers who want to earn consumers’ trust need a lot more than just good advertising. Studies now show that 26% of global consumers check the country of origin listed on the food and drink labels. That’s why open communication, a reliable transparency policy, and good practices are the only way forward. As proof, note that one of the top food industry trends in 2021 was providing as many details as possible about where the food comes from and how it was sourced and produced.
Thankfully, there are now traceability systems that collect and record data points. They give you a chance to track products’ movements through the entire value chain in real-time and ex-post. Also, any participant in the supply chain will be able to do the same. The value of traceability systems lies in recognizing and optimizing the response to potential risk and promoting general transparency.
Before you opt for any one of these communication trends, it would be best to do more research. That way, you will learn how you can use them in your food manufacturing operations. That being said, when you adopt the right technology, the results will be remarkable. Although it seems like a costly investment, you will get a much-desired boost in quality, employee engagement and safety and save money in the long run.
Rick Farrell is North America’s foremost expert in improving manufacturing group communication, education, training and group hospitality processes. He has over 40 years of group hospitality experience, most recently serving as President of Plant-Tours.com for the last 18 years. He has provided consulting services with the majority of Fortune 500 industrial corporations improving group communication dynamics of all types in manufacturing environments.