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Automation has taken over many industry verticals by storm and now it is time for the Food and Beverage industry to climb up the ladder. As the global demand for food is rising with the world population getting quadrupled over the last century, the need for food production is expected to shoot up by approximately 77.2 percent by 2050. Addition of labor and machines can help in increasing the volume but it comes with a substantial cost that needs to be optimized with suitable automation techniques. These help in reduction of operational costs as well as improvement of productivity and profit margins, without compromising on the quality.

As safety is one of the key aspects of the hygiene compliant food and beverage industries, safety systems are the trending go-to equipment for the food and beverage giants to gain production precision, efficiency, and flexibility. These help in realizing greater operation transparency across production lines and reduction of compliance costs for timely corrective actions. These include the use of a safety instrumented system used for securing plant safety by functioning as an emergency shutdown system (ESD) which helps in detecting abnormal conditions and initiates safe shutdown in case of emergency. An emergency shutdown system (ESD) basically helps protect a manufacturing plant from explosions or leakages. Such systems consist of various components such as sensors, logic solvers, and final control elements.

Some of the common safety functions used in the food and beverage industry are:

  • Emergency Stop
  • Light Curtains
  • Door Interlock
  • Safety Pull-cord
  • Safe-torque off drive

Food Industry can be divided into various sub-segments such as:

  1. Dairy
  2. Beverages
  3. Ready to use
  4. Fruits and Vegetables (includes packaged and processed food)
  5. Sugar
  6. Edible oil and fats
  7. Snacks

Among these sub segments the packaged food products have gained popularity over the past few years especially in the developing economies, further creating investment opportunities for new facilities, which in turn drive the demand for automation in these economies. Dairy industry, ready to eat and beverage industry are important sub segments and together account for 23.1% of the total food and beverage market. These utilize the packaging line the most amongst all the other segments due to the presence of multiple product variants. There is a growing need for implementation of safety systems in these segments not only for achieving specific safety goals but also to reduce product related costs as well as product lifetime expenses. As far as sugar segment is concerned, there is a lot of scope for safety system adoption followed by complete automation, as it is an energy intensive industry requiring precise control with continuous reliability especially during the seasonal production cycles. With the prioritization of gentle product handling, there is a gradual shift toward automation in the snacks producers and bakeries. Moreover, with the current unemployment rate of 4.1% as per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people to fill the vacancies in these industries is low. This is one of the driving forces toward utilizing the vision guided, proximity sensors coupled with pick and place solutions. As snacks industry is into retail ready packaging display, it has incorporated safety systems at a considerably high level with approximately 4.3% of the snacks industries deploying safety systems worldwide. Some of the largest edible oil consuming economies include the United States, China, Brazil, and India. Due to low margins in these, the edible oil end users are looking for new solutions for increasing the production output. With a growing need and awareness about vegetable oil plant automation, it is expected to pick up but with a relatively low adoption rate in comparison to other sub segments.

Two of the international standards recognized for Functional Safety are the IEC 61508 (Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-Related Systems) and the related IEC 61511 (Functional Safety – Safety Instrumented Systems for the Process Industry Sector).

Some of the top vendors operating in this market include:

  1. Invensys plc, ABB, and Honeywell International Inc., are tier I competitors.
  2. HIMA Paul Hildebrandt GmbH Co KG, Siemens AG, Rockwell Automation, Inc., Emerson Electric Co., and Yokogawa Electric Corporation are Tier II competitors which are pure play and process safety vendors highly specializing in the process safety.

The current trend in the safety systems market for process industries such as Food and Beverage is that of the product-bundling offering where total integrated solutions are offered to the customers. Safety systems are integrated with the control systems of the plant. Various types of safety systems in the market currently are emergency shutdown systems (ESD), fire and gas (F&G), high integrated pressure protection systems (HIPPS), burner management systems (BMS), and turbo machinery control.

Some other trends in the safety systems market include increased investments, which include investments by the government to encourage global participants for investing in Greenfield projects in developing economies. The food and beverage industry, which is a highly fragmented market, witnesses an intense competition which leads to the pricing pressure faced by the companies to invest in automation services. The companies in the Europe face stricter guidelines for machine safety than the United States.

The digital revolution and trends such as globalization and individualization have opened new doors for the safety systems market with increased focus toward packaging. With the fulfillment of key requirements of Industry 4.0 and IIoT, present OEMs and vendors are working toward implementing safety solutions which can adapt to new automation systems. An optional series diagnosis interface can be fitted with passive installation systems for the transfer of non-secure data. Thus different safety systems such as interlocks and safety sensors can be connected to relevant applications without any hassle. This proves to be extremely cost effective, as larger systems require different safety switches to be secured in different machine areas.

Thus the increased focus on the streamlined regulatory implementation and management of the automations systems is driving the need for safety systems in the food and beverage industry globally.

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