juillet 05, 2023
Automation in Agri-food Production Lines: Why Invest Now and How to Prepare?
In the constantly evolving agri-food sector, automation in production lines has become an essential trend. Companies that adopt these innovative technologies position themselves at the forefront of the industry and already enjoy significant advantages.
Often used to reduce the need for manual labor, automation also enhances or complements human activities. It increases safety, reduces energy consumption, minimizes waste production, boosts output, and saves space, enabling personnel to take on more value-added roles.
The North American market still has some catching up to do compared to the international arena, particularly in Canada, which is in the early stages.
In this article, we explore reasons to invest in the automation of your agri-food production lines right away, before your competition catches up and it becomes too late to invest. We will also provide advice on how to get started.
Why invest now?
Addressing labor shortages and evolving labor market
The lack of labor in the agri-food sector has significantly impacted the operational performance of agri-food processing plants in recent years, particularly during periods of high demand. Whether due to labor availability issues or the reluctance of new generations to work in production factories, performing repetitive and unrewarding tasks, the pressure is too great for businesses to remain productive in the long run.
Increasing productivity and efficiency
Automation can significantly enhance the productivity of your production lines. Automated machines can perform repetitive tasks at a consistent speed without errors or interruptions, reducing downtime and optimizing resource utilization. This leads to overall production efficiency gains and increased capacity to meet growing market demand.
Enhancing food quality and safety
Automation reduces human handling of products, ensuring higher quality standards. Automated systems can precisely control manufacturing parameters, perform real-time inspections and quality tests, thereby reducing the risks of contamination and non-compliance. By investing in automation, you reinforce consumer confidence in the safety and reliability of your products.
Reducing operational costs
While the initial investment in automation may seem significant, it enables substantial long-term savings. Automated machines require less manual labor, reducing labor costs and human errors. Additionally, the reduction in downtime and production losses due to quality issues contributes to substantial savings. Automation, therefore, offers a solid return on investment and improved long-term profitability.
Staying competitive and quickly adapting to market demands
In a constantly evolving agri-food market, it is crucial to adapt rapidly to new trends and changing demands. Automation provides increased flexibility by enabling quick adjustments to production processes, faster product changes, and greater capacity for innovation. This allows you to remain competitive and effectively meet market requirements.
Okay, but how can you get started?
The key to success is to be well supported, which can sometimes be challenging. In the industrial automation sector, there are various providers who can help, such as equipment manufacturers, engineering and consulting firms, and integrator manufacturers. With numerous technologies and innovations available, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.
Here are our 5 tips for approaching the automation of your production line:
• Analyze your current production process, focusing on stations causing the most issues (production slowdowns or stoppages, high product rejections, etc.).
• Establish specific short, medium, and long-term goals (e.g., reducing labor, increasing production speed, strengthening food safety). It's better to proceed in small steps and keep scalability in mind.
• Gather information through trade shows, online research, etc., to better understand what is available on the market and establish contact with those who appear to be the most knowledgeable and relevant to your goals.
• Set a budget and seek financing. Improving the performance of the food processing sector in Canada or the USA is an economic and political concern. There are several aids from different institutions to help you on your automation strategy.
• Be patient. Automation is a good change for the growth of your business, but like any change, it takes time for your structure and your employees to adapt.
Investing now in automating your food production lines positions you as an industry leader, increasing productivity, improving food quality and safety, reducing operational costs, and enabling you to adapt quickly to changing market conditions. Don’t miss this opportunity to strengthen your competitiveness and thrive in the growing agribusiness sector.
At Storcan, we can help you in this process thanks to our many years of experience and our teams of multidisciplinary experts. We are a manufacturer-integrator, which means that we have our own manufacturing plant for conveying and handling systems and we work with many other equipment suppliers that we integrate into your custom production line solution.
We act as a true business partner, always with your teams to achieve your strategic performance objectives. From the analysis of your line to its installation and programming, up to its commissioning and maintenance. We are potentially your partner of excellence for your future automated production line projects.
So, are you ready to invest in automating your production lines?