The PKN + Food & Drink Business “Future Unpacked” LIVE is over for another year. And what a year it was! If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed.
PKN + Food & Drink Business LIVE 2017 was a sneak peek into the future. What does the factory of the future look like? What are the technologies making waves in the manufacturing world? How will manufacturers use them to make an impact on the rapidly changing business landscape? What challenges can we expect along the way?
As for what the future will look like, here are the answers from Future Unpacked LIVE…
Brett Wiskar, Innovation Director at Wiley, spoke about the impact of four emerging technologies leading up to 2025 — chief among these is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR).
Brett’s focus was less on the extent of full automations and control, and more on cognitive computing and how this supports staff to make better decisions. When staff put on smart glasses, for example, AR apps help them see layers of information about the equipment. This can be used for predictive maintenance, better training and development, or to provide analytics that can be applied to the production line. For example, Boeing has been using Skylight and smart glasses to guide technicians as they wire up complex boards (this video explains how it works). Ultimately, it’s all about empowering better decision-making.
How soon before this becomes a reality for more manufacturers? Predictions were made that by 2025 the factory of the future will see a proliferation of AI and AR to improve productivity of staff to improve training, reduce errors and failures on the production line.
But before that, over the next three years we’ll see a transitional stage that will bridge the gap between current infrastructure and the smart production facility of the future. As I discussed on the panel at the forum, there are “small steps” manufacturers can take today to begin laying the foundations. Industry 3.0 has been about computing and automation, and for manufacturers to move beyond this into “Industry 3.5” and then Industry 4.0, they need to delve deeper into existing plant data to enable better decisions. This is also known as information-driven manufacturing (iDM) – you can read all about it in our recent article.
The new facility for food manufacturing company Birch & Waite, which opened in Sydney in late August, is a great example of how mid-tier companies who are ready to invest in innovation can scale up their production facilities in stages. With flexibility built into the new facility to cater for growth in an uncertain future, these designs are then able to meet future growth and technology changes. This is a working case study for “Industry 3.5”.
Another consideration for the factory of the future is the high cost of energy, which is currently a barrier for many companies. The renewable energy technologies as we know them today, such as solar power, have limitations. But, according to Brett Wiskar, there are technologies in the works that will boost facilities’ capacity to source up to 80% of their power off the grid.
Packaging is getting even smarter
According to Visy’s Insights and Category Manager, Adam Robinson, the global market for smart packaging is currently at $5.3 billion and is expected to grow to a projected value of $7.8 billion by 2021.
But while consumers still need convincing around the true benefits of smart packaging, retailers are finding new ways to use it to improve freshness and convenience, reduce food waste and raise the bar on traceability. This includes smart sensors in packaging, printed electronics, and printed sensors as part of the label.
Know your future consumers
It’s not just the future of equipment and packaging that has our attention. Taby Taylor-Ziane, 31st Second Strategy Director, talked about the future of consumers: millennials. She explained that brands need to spend more time understanding this group of “digital natives” and their shopping journey. This means thinking in terms of “DICE”:
- Discovery and delight
- Immerse and integrate
- Care about consequences
- Enhance experiences
Just as millennials are reshaping the future of shopping, they are also reshaping the workforce, as we recently discussed in this blog. (You may also like to see how millennials are forever changing the face of packaging.) The reality is that manufacturers who embrace millennials in the workforce, as well as consumers, will be winning in the long run.
Want to know more about the technologies driving Industry 4.0? Read our manufacturer’s practical guide.
Check out Matthews’ vast resource library. It has a host of detailed information that’s all free to download!