With the pressure on food manufacturers to ensure safe and efficient processes higher than ever before, discover how engineering documentation management software can enhance and streamline secure food production.
With the food processing and supply chain now such a global, complex and competitive industry, the need for efficiency is paramount if today’s modern manufacturers are to succeed.
According to an article written in Frontiers, a research publisher and open science platform, the rapid urbanisation of the world has created new challenges for the modern industry, as fast preparation of ready-to-eat meals has led to growing numbers of produced foods and ingredients. This, it says, has resulted in growing industrialisation of food production, bringing with it the need for higher nutritional quality and enhanced food safety.
And, as Food Manufacture’s Business Leaders Forum pointed out earlier this year, the level of pressure on the UK’s food manufacturing sector has never been quite so intense, with factors such as climate change, food fraud, the soaring cost of materials, labour shortages and continually changing regulations all coming to bear.
As such, food manufacturers are having to spend a huge amount of time considering how best to manage these challenges in an industry that, traditionally, has been slow to invest in technology.
A recent white paper by Accruent, looking at Five Strategies for Unlocking Efficiency and Driving Growth in Food and Beverage Manufacturing, highlighted that “digitalisation is transforming the F&B manufacturing landscape, with automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) revolutionising production processes, improving efficiency and reducing costs”.
Indeed, food and drink is important to the UK’s GDP as the country’s largest manufacturing sector contributes £30bn to the economy annually, with direct employment numbering over 468,000 people across every nation and region of the UK in 2022, according to the Food and Drink Federation.
So, the pressure is on for manufacturers to streamline processes at every stage of the business and implement lean manufacturing practices.
Investing in technology
One way in which food manufacturers can enable their plants to run efficiently, safely and sustainably is by investing in digitalisation, automation and technology to enhance management of supply chains and improve the process of product innovation, to bring products to market more quickly and cost-efficiently. As Accruent points out in its report “real-time monitoring of operational data means that manufacturers can identify bottlenecks and streamline production lines – all of this while reducing waste and keeping in line with regulations”.
One example where food manufacturers can improve their systems is by using engineering documentation management software (EDMS). While food manufacturing has had difficulty in attracting engineers, an article in The Grocer recently highlighted the fact that it’s time for the sector to look at engineering through a new lens and showcase the range of engineering roles shaping food manufacture.
While many associate engineering with the automotive and construction industries, “food manufacturing today is driven by science and data – and it’s heavily underpinned by engineering”, points out the article, which adds that engineers have a crucial role to play in helping to feed the national innovatively and safely.
As such, it’s important for the industry to attract more engineering talent and, in order to do so, it needs to have up-to-date systems that work in its favour.
EDMS connects engineering and maintenance stakeholders along the production line seamlessly, establishing a centralised and secure system to ensure standard repeatable workflows and capture comments and approvals electronically, while building audit trails to support regulatory and safety requirements. “EDMS has the opportunity to provide greater uptime through better access to key documentation during planned and unplanned outages,” explains Frederic Baudart, senior product marketing manager at Accruent. “In addition, it can simplify document management over the entire asset information lifecycle, track parallel changes, streamline concurrent engineering, approval processes and keep engineering and maintenance projects under control and in compliance while ensuring data quality and integrity.”
Complete up-to-date documentation related to individual work orders means that feedback all along the supply chain is finger-tip ready and allows manufacturers to keep master data relevant and live while organising individual workflows and any changes in processes, along with data validation. “EDMS can improve the accuracy of documentation on processes, procedures, and equipment documentation which is a requirement for food & beverage customers to meet regulations and guidelines,” adds Baudart.
In addition, in terms of recruitment, if a potential candidate has worked with and EDMS system previously and has seen the benefits, this could be viewed as a plus in the hiring process.
Accruent Meridian’s EDMS provides:
● Asset lifecycle information management, giving users access to complete up-to-date documentation related to work orders, so maintenance can quickly provide feedback when discrepancies are found
● A solution for managing all mission-critical document types, enabling users to keep their master data up to date, while enabling them to change processes in isolated work areas, with workflows, data validation and a full audit trail for regulatory compliance
● Document and drawing management, allowing users to control versions, as well as manage revisions and document workflows in a safe, secure environment, ensuring they are working on the most up-to-date documentation.
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