Tomorrow's food factory: sneak preview

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

I Food Robot: humans offer flexibility that automation doesn't
I Food Robot: humans offer flexibility that automation doesn't

Related tags: Campden bri, Energy conservation, Food

Tomorrrow’s food factories will look very different to the ones of today, being designed to raise efficiencies and reduce the cost of production, while offering better sustainability.

That’s the view of Craig Leadley, a novel food processing specialist with research body Campden BRI. Leadley will be speaking at Campden BRI’ s ‘Food factories of the future’ seminar, which takes place on October 9 in Chipping Camden.

While the fully automated factory – so-called ‘lights out’ operation – remained an aspiration for the food manufacturing sector, “it doesn’t seem likely for many years”​, said Leadley. But removing people from a factory environment had advantages as they are a major source of contamination, he added.

‘Reduce the risks’

“Removing personnel would reduce the risks of the introduction of pathogens and offers the potential to operate the factory at conditions that are unfavourable for growth of pathogens, eg very low temperatures,”​ said Leadley.

He pointed out that there were also limitations to the introduction of automation as people were incredibly flexible and adaptable to changing requirements. “Their complete removal from the factory therefore brings significant technical challenges,”​ he said.

Factory efficiency would also be improved by the use of better IT systems for traceability, communication between processing systems and storing data, he added.

Pressure on the world’s natural resources would force food processors to manage them far more carefully, he said. “Many companies are looking to reuse water to reduce costs,”​ Leadley remarked.

To combat rising energy prices, companies would look to use more energy efficient equipment and to take advantage of heat recovery where possible.

Increasing interest

“There has been increasing interest in hygienic engineering in recent years as evidenced by the growth of organisations, such as the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG), and recent attempts to develop a UK regional group of EHEDG,”​ said Leadley.

Meanwhile, consumer demand for innovative, sustainable and good value products, would continue in the future, he added.

“Emerging preservation technologies are not a panacea for all technical challenges around product innovation, but they will play an increasingly important role in the development of high quality, extended shelf-life products,”​ he said.

Meanwhile, don't miss your free place at the Food Manufacture Group's one-hour webinar on energy savings​, sponsored by energy consultant JRP Solutions, at 11am on Thursday September 18. Identifying the scope for savings and discussing the EU's Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) will be Richard Clothier, md of Wyke Farms, Martin Adams, ESOS team leader, Energy Efficiency Deployment Office, Stephen Reeson, Food and Drink Federation head of climate change and energy policy and Jes Rutter, md JRP Solutions.

Book your free place here​. 

This article was first published by our sister magazine Food Manufacture​.

Related topics: Processing equipment

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