A competitive edge for F&B producers with Industry 4.0, AI to manage Innovating

Severin Weiss, CEO & Chairman, SpecPageSeverin Weiss, CEO & Chairman,SpecPage
Industry 4.0

This is a time of serious disruption for research and development teams in the Food and Beverage industry. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the itinerant concerns about public health and safety across the board, food engineers in F&B are confronting limitations posed by legacy ERP systems, on-prem data warehouses, and spreadsheets, which can lead to fragmented formulations, recipes and internal miscommunication, costing manufacturers thousands of dollars and hours of lost time, and the disorganization and loss of process control is frustrating for all shareholders.

Bring in Industry 4.0!Upgrade old ERP systems, Industry 4.0 encompasses all process solutions that integrate transparency, traceability and product data management for the food and beverage industry.

This is where SpecPage, a SaaS PLM provider for the F&B industry, can help your enterprise with a comprehensive suite of products and services. In terms of product data management, or PDM, SpecPDM for example, delivers efficient, effective comprehensive automation of all processes for streamlining communication, source management and compliance for F&B companies.

PDM drives the four cornerstones of Industry 4.0.and PDM has since evolved into a key cornerstone of what is known as product lifecycle management, or PLM. SpecPage offers products and solutions to help F&B enterprises get to Industry 4.0 and beyond:

• Product Lifecycle Management (PLM): SpecPage PLM process solutions deliver accurate labels and provide automatic compliance triggers, no matter the region, allowing producers to penetrate new markets at will.PLM for Industry 4.0 has expanded functionality and capabilities to enable workflow technologies, methodologies and processes. It increases the value of the entire organization – delivering innovation for new products, accelerating time-to-market, improving product quality and decreasing product cost – while eliminating food safety and global regulatory compliance challenges.

• Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN): As a network with 30+ certified data pools connecting over 35,000 enterprises, GDSN guarantees utmost data transparency. The SpecPage GDSN Guide delivers standardized product data via the Global Data Synchronization Network. It gives producers the opportunity to efficiently share information such as shelf life, ingredients, order information, organic certificates, warehousing information and instructions for use, alcohol content, diet information, food additives, preservatives, packaging hierarchy, and product tracking details (barcodes, RFID tags, etc.) with retailers, distributors and trade partners.

• Lab Information Management Systems (LIMS): These systems enable tracking of all data, guarantee data traceability, and can also automate lab processes, workflows, and quality controls. Further, SpecLIMS support manufacturers in harmonizing their product quality with legal standards and changing customer demand.
Industry 4.0 solutions help F&B companies continue to meet national and international compliance guidelines, by providing master data management systems to automate daily workflows and processes, enable data exchange with other applications, and build high-value solutions for food production enterprises .In order to achieve reliable food safety, accurate labeling, traceability and transparency throughout the global supply chain, manufacturers must digitize and empower their teams with Industry 4.0-integrated process solutions to maintain their competitive edge.

There are many solutions out there, from blockchain to comprehensive PLM, to address the challenges of changing food regulation and consumer demands. For industry leaders who seek to invest resources in future-proof solutions, PLM for Industry 4.0 is the most beneficial and fundamental investment to secure their competitive edge in the market—and can save manufacturers time and money for the agile development of new products.

AI sous chef

Why send a recipe further into production when your AI is suggesting a better flavor pairing instead?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is not to the point yet that it is spitting out actual recipes. Currently, R&D teams in the F&B industry are working on technologies that learn based on real human input and millions of data points. In partnership with humans, AI can be used to develop and test new products.

For instance, IBM and Spoonshot and Gastrographare developing AI products to predict and produce culinary trends, additional ingredients to virtually taste test, and new flavor pairings, based on real human flavor preferences, thanks to database vendors. These flavor preferences can be constructed out of Big Data that captures things like:

• Food products being launched around the world
• Every known ingredient and flavor
• Top performing products, recipes, and ingredients
• Consumer food purchasing behavior
• Qualitative and quantitative market research
• Food companies’ own customer feedback on their proprietary recipes (which product innovators track and integrate with the AI platform)

Basically, the more data points, the merrier, and the more refined AI tools can become. AI can use historical data on flavor trends by metropolitan areas, trends by region, food-related media trends (food shows, blogs) and consumer purchasing behavior, which in turn can be extrapolated to:

1. Map and pair digital flavors
2. Forecast future flavor trends
3. Develop new, unexpected products

AI technologies can also be a solid investment for F&B enterprises to innovate new products.

Achieving labelling transparency with Nutri-Score

The pandemic has been on most people’s minds for the past two years. Increasing concern about staying healthy and fortifying the immune system has led more and more consumers to be extra vigilant about their food products.

To ensure that people are putting their concerns into action, Nutri-Score was developed in France in 2017 to help consumers quickly choose healthy options by checking their food labels. Since it started, Nutri-Score has become immensely popular throughout Europe, having expanded from France to Belgium, Spain, and recently Germany.

Using the Nutri-Score calculator, consumers can enter and submit their food label data on the website. They will then receive a colored-coded label, which reveals more details about their selected food’s health benefits at a glance.

While some brands have criticized this app, asserting that it applies an overly simplistic rating system to food labels, where cooking oil might get a lower health score than a carbonated beverage, for instance, Nutri-Score offers F&B enterprises an opportunity to step up their labeling and compliance practices.

In the midst of a global health crisis, there is increased pressure from regulatory agencies, governments, and consumers for more detailed and rigorous food labelling and source traceability. F&B enterprises can be best equipped for this new normal by implementing a robust PLM sooner rather than later. This way, brands can stay ahead of food trends and their competition.

Using SaaS and comprehensive PLM solutions like SpecPage for formulation, monitoring and labeling compliance, F&B companies can continue to optimize consistent labelling practices and quality assurance, and consistently deliver complete and accurate information to the consumer.
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