Ultra Yields in Chilled Food Manufacturing

Imagine a chilled food production line that delivers ultra yields (sub 1% losses), welcome to Food Manufacturing 4.0

The UK is recognised as the world leader in chilled food production with c£10Bn annual sales yet inherent process problems mean manufacturers typically aim for 2% yield losses yet often deliver between 5% and 10%.

Everyone recognises food waste is wrong but the economic implications of a couple of percentage points will ultimately drive manufacturers to adopt Food Manufacturing 4.0 best practices.

Typically 50% of the cost of chilled food products is tied up in ingredients, this can be higher. Estimating total ingredient industry costs at £4Bn gives a 1% improvement in yield of £40m before we take into account the opportunity costs associated with waste. Ultra yields (sub 1% losses) are a big opportunity for manufacturing.

It’s not that food and drink manufacturers are neglecting this. Over the years products have been developed based on unwanted food or by-products; Cadbury Flake, Marmite, even marmalade was developed in Dundee when it was realised that the ‘great value’ Seville Oranges were cheap for a reason. 

The very nature of current production process configurations, however, generates inherent losses. Any production line fault can result in significant volumes of product being diverted to the ‘pig bin’ or more recently the ‘Anaerobic Digestion’ bin.  Start up and shut down processes can be lengthy and the partially processed or cooked material that is produced during these processes is often laid to waste. Complex pipe and valve arrangements generate waste and require further effluent to clean.

Food Is life is a platform to think different, what do processes with ultra yields look like?

Re-imagining the production line with the principles from Food Manufacturing 4.0 will lead to ultra yields. Modular zero loss systems with intelligent automation reacting to real time changes within the production environment will result in waste levels ‘tending to zero’.

We have a rapidly growing global population and the threat of resource scarcity so if there is ever a time to take a long hard look at what we accept as the norm and ask whether it is the right way or not, it has to be now.  Intelligent modular systems that can react to change is the promise of Food Manufacturing 4.0.  Standardised connections for modular capability with intelligent, dynamic feedback loops could switch batches to hold phases, to allow for repairs to be undertaken in the event of downstream faults ensuring that waste is all but eliminated. 

The need for food is a given and addressing the amount that is wasted throughout the supply chain is the responsibility of the food and drink manufacturing industry.  1% in every factory aggregated, amounts to an almost unimaginable amount of calories lost that would otherwise be fit for human consumption. Whilst the premise of Food Manufacturing 4.0 may upset the applecart in terms of our production process frame of reference, if it is has the tools at its disposal to address such waste issues it should be wholeheartedly embraced.

The “Food is Life” consortium will be at the PPMA Show 2015 on stand K70. Food Is Life is looking for like-minded companies and individuals that recognise the need for change to collaborate with and generate brilliant ideas.

To demonstrate the step change in efficiency and performance that can be achieved through design and innovation a BMW i8 will be on the Food is Life stand. The i8 challenges the status quo of supercars being gas guzzling monsters as it has a carbon emission of only 49 g/km. Car manufacturing itself has changed beyond recognition over the last 30 years and there are many knowledge transfer opportunities for the food industry. The Food Is life consortium is committed to bringing about major leaps in efficiency epitomised by the BMW i8.

Steve OsbornComment