Majority of Food and Drink Manufacturers investing in automation to stay competitive



The Food and Drink Industry is one of the UK’s most competitive and challenging landscapes. The threat of cheap imports from overseas and the rise of the budget superstore has made the past few years turbulent for many UK food and drink manufacturers, even the retail giants are struggling as the combined profit of the big 3 – Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s – fell to only £1.6bn this year down from £3.87bn in 2014.

Barclays Food and Drink Report published earlier this year gives a great insight to the struggles facing the food and drink industry, and of those insights, the implementation of new technology is key.

52% of respondents said their company was increasing investment into process automation for food and drink production and this is what will help them stay competitive within the market. An undisclosed international drinks manufacturer stated “If you can’t measure things you can’t control them, and flexibility is an important part of the business.” By incorporating automation and control systems, analysis becomes simpler allowing you to easily calculating productivity, cost of manufacture and optimising processes based on the data captured. Efficiency rises and downtime falls allowing you to control every aspect of your production environment.

Automation, however, cannot replace all areas of manufacture so it’s a case of identifying those areas where variability is key and manual repetition is high.

The area that stands to highly benefit from automation is in managing labour costs and control. According to the survey 91% of respondents see a significant factor in driving the industry towards automation, as being wage costs. Using automation to replace labour may not work for all industries and in fact there is much discord over the productiveness of this as humans can be much more agile than machines but the cost of labour is one of highest costs involved in production so you need to be able to track it effectively and manage it accordingly, and there is where automation reigns.

Electronic time and attendance systems, materials tracking, and job tracing solutions can help you manage the aspects you can’t see. Measuring employee productivity takes seconds, quickly see upcoming jobs at a glance and monitoring non-productive time such as lunch and meetings will go a long way towards saving your business unnecessary costs relating to labour.

Automation is a large part of this new industrial era we are in, and it could be the competitive edge your food and drink company needs to survive. To read the full report click here and if you’re interested in finding more about how automation systems can help you, why not take a look at our solutions or give us a call on +44 1329 800 000.

Written by Candice Stead, Marketing Executive at LYNQ Limited