Thinking About Automation in Food Manufacturing? Start Here!

Automation improves competitiveness in any industry, and the food manufacturing sector is no different. When you automate a food processing plant, you eliminate the scope of waste, improve efficiency, and expand profit margins. The resulting cost savings can be diverted to improving business processes and R&D. Additionally, food businesses that automate their production, packaging, and waste disposal can quickly comply with regulatory changes, eliminate injury, and bring down labor costs.

Complete automation may appear ideal for many food manufacturers, but connecting every component in a food plant may be challenging. Where do you start when implementing automation in food manufacturing? To maximize the automation ROI on your production floor, start by figuring out which pieces need to be automated first.

Starting Out With Automation in Food Manufacturing

So where do I start? Manufacturing depends on producing the highest volume of goods within the shortest period of time, while maintaining industry standards for quality. One way to think of this is to break your current process down into five different components:

  • Volume – The amount of product at the end of the process
  • Cost – Keeping cost per unit as low as possible without sacrificing standards
  • Waste – Time, energy, downtime, and hiring costs all factor into waste
  • Quality – Producing a higher volume of goods with greater quality is key
  • Safety – Keeping your staff safe, and reducing unplanned downtime in the process

By reducing waste down the pipeline as well as cost per unit, while increasing volume, quality, and safety, your profits are likely to rise as a result. When considering automation, think about the weakest link in the chain of your manufacturing line. If one area is prone to bottlenecks, producing substandard results, or slowing down the rest of the pipeline, that area is a great place to start when buying your first automation equipment.

Alternatively, consider the parts of your pipeline that are the most heavily staffed. For instance, a manufacturer may have one part of the pipeline dedicated to applying ingredients by hand. If this part of the assembly line is heavily staffed just to keep up with the rest of the pipeline, this could be an excellent place to implement automation. By doing this, you will free up manpower that can be distributed evenly across the rest of your manufacturing line.

Ramping Up Automation

Automating your manufacturing line doesn’t have to happen overnight. It can start by beginning with a single machine, and gradually replacing obsolete parts with streamlined, high quality automation.

The ROI on automation is generally believed to be around 2 years. Over the period of a decade, a savvy manufacturer could use this to build out an entire automated production line by replacing obsolete parts of the manufacturing line with faster equipment.

Manufacturing is an industry that is readily embracing automation as a solution to issues like staffing. Because of high turnover, a large portion of a manufacturer’s budget is spent on human resources and restaffing. For this reason, automation isn’t destroying jobs in the manufacturing sector – it is simply filling a hole in a leaky bucket.

Once you fix a broken link in your food manufacturing line, other weaknesses will reveal themselves along the way. With one part of your line running at peak performance, new bottlenecks may emerge that expose problems that had already existed, yet weren’t immediately apparent due to the first weak chain. This isn’t a bad thing – it points the way for success in your business, and will allow you to maximize your business’s profits.

Customized Solutions for Automation in Food Manufacturing

Every food manufacturing line is a little bit different – while machines by major manufacturers may be shared, different ingredients, processes, and workflows go into every manufacturing plant. Simply buying a new machine might not always be the best choice. Instead, consider customized solutions for your manufacturing pipeline.

A custom machine can be precisely built around the dimensions and specifications of your process, reducing problems like bottlenecks that naturally emerge in a pipeline. A custom machine can reduce the amount of stress that the rest of your food manufacturing line receives. Custom food manufacturing automation provides:

  • High quality
  • Precision production
  • Easy replacement of obsolete parts
  • Meets the unique requirements of manufacturer

How can custom automation help your food manufacturing business? Custom Cut Metals can help. Contact us today for more information.