Lessons from a pandemic: automation is key to a resilient food and beverage industry

Kirsty Talmage-Rostron, Siemens industrial markets business development manager

What’s in store for the food and beverage (F&B) industry? 

Adding to its longstanding challenges, the sector has witnessed new pandemic-related disruptions brought on by dramatic changes to typical consumer behaviours. For example, the drop in out-of-home consumption levels has left manufacturers focused on products for restaurants particularly vulnerable, many of which were unable to quickly pivot their businesses to serving the individual consumer market via supermarkets.

 

While some disruptions may be lifted once we return to a ‘new normal’, other consumer trends may be here to stay. Pivoting businesses to the coronavirus aftermath is best done with Industry 4.0 – providing the necessary agility to cope with current market disruptions and as consumption levels pick up again in the future. In fact, our research shows that manufacturers can stand to gain an additional 6.3% - 9.8% of their annual revenues just by digitalising their processes. A recent survey found that 41% of businesses are speeding up plans to implement new technologies to prepare for the post-coronavirus economy. The truth of the matter is that many F&B businesses will need to automate and digitalise their processes in order to survive and thrive.

 

The proof is in the pudding. Key commentators have highlighted that businesses who had already digitalised their production units pre-pandemic were more resilient at the start of lockdown, being less affected by the lockdown-induced staff shortages, for instance. Similarly, manufacturers equipped with ‘digital twins’ [1] were able to simulate coronavirus impact scenarios and react quickly and effectively in volatile situations. The future was always going to be digital – but the pace has hastened.

Luckily, there’s a wide range of financial solutions available to manufacturers to help make these investments more manageable during these trying times. If you choose to work with Siemens Financial Services, cost savings from technology benefits – such as increased productivity - can be used to pay for the investment so there’s no need to make a large upfront capital investment. Read our whitepaper to learn more and get in touch to start your digitalisation journey now!

 

[1] Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical devices, such as a factory. They are used to run simulations, predict different outcomes based on variable data and offer insights into performance and potential problems.

 

 

Kirsty Talmage-Rostron, Siemens industrial markets business development manager

I focus primarily on the Siemens Industrial markets sector, working with Siemens companies, OEM’s and Solution Partners. I assist them in finding a financial solution for their customer that best suits their needs. This in turn gives them more options for their customer in the sales process. My experience in this sector allows me to offer flexible solutions to difficult questions.

 

Outside work I have two teenage girls in my house who keep me busy! I also coach ladies hockey in my spare time in the Surrey Prem league. I try to stay as fit as possible as well and play a bit of hockey myself when time allows.