Innovative Technologies to Help a Start-Up in Beverage Industry

For businesses trying to make a name for themselves in the beverage industry, the challenges are vast and varied. Yes, the sector can be a profitable one – it’s predicted that the global market will be worth $1.86 trillion by 2024 – but that does not mean there are any guarantees of success.

There are a wide range of difficulties facing start-ups of all kinds, and being able to make an impression within the drinks industry is certainly no different. Of course, not every enterprise will start out hoping to become the next Coca Cola, Heineken or Starbucks, but having a solid business plan and a clearly defined set of goals is likely to offer a greater chance for success.

Part of that planning involves identifying which tools and processes are going to help your organisation compete against its rivals. Advances are being made all the time, but which technologies might be most effective in launching a beverage business. Read on to know more:

tech-in-beverage-industry

1. Flow-through systems

Automated systems can prove invaluable in terms of streamlining the processes of sorting, packaging, labelling and distributing produce. Flow-through systems utilise robots to do the vast majority of this work, using proximity sensors in order to detect the presence of other objects and repeat the same movements. Operating in this way can help to reduce the risk of human error while simultaneously lowering running costs and increasing productivity and efficiency.

2. Industrial Internet of Things

This is where devices in an industrial setting are connected on a network in order to communicate with one another. The IIoT can enable machines involved in the manufacturing process to log data and identify any faults in the production line, which means each drink is turned out to a greater level of consistency.

3. Voice technology

Another development that is assisting beverage businesses – and those in other industries – is the emergence of voice technology. Warehouse operators can now harness this concept to issue voice commands that will be picked up by the relevant pieces of machinery, which subsequently carry out the action. This means tasks can be completed in a safer, more time-efficient manner, while it also makes training of new employees easier in that there are fewer manual skills for them to learn.

4. NFC tags

Moving away from the manufacturing side of the business, near field communication (NFC) tags can help to improve the customer experience once the product has been put to market. NFC technology is what’s used in contactless payment devices, and the concept has been adapted by the beverage industry in order to add another dimension to the product that consumers purchase.

They can be added to the label or packaging and scanned with a smartphone to unlock a range of additional information about the drink.

5. Cloud service

For businesses in any field, the challenge of data storage is one that can be difficult to overcome. Giants of the industry will have the available resources to own and run their own infrastructures, but others may not be in a position to do so or may wish to focus their spending in different areas.

As a solution, there are cloud service providers who offer products such as Virtual Desktop or Azure Virtual Desktop with rented access to certain software at a lower cost, which frees up funds for beverage companies to commit more capital towards the likes of R&D, production and marketing.

Waste Management in the Food Processing Industry

Food processing industry around the world is making serious efforts to minimize by-products, compost organic waste, recycle processing and packaging materials, and save energy and water. The three R’s of waste management – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – can help food manufacturers in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and reusing waste.

EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy

EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is an excellent resource to follow for food processors and beverage producers as it provides the guidance to start a program that will provide the most benefits for the environment, society and the food manufacturer.

Notably, landfill is the least favored disposal option for waste generated in food and beverage producers worldwide. There are sustainable, effective and profitable waste management options including:

  • making animal feed,
  • composting to create nutrient-rich fertilizer,
  • anaerobic digestion to produce energy-rich biogas,
  • recycling/reusing waste for utilization by other industries,
  • feeding surplus food to needy people

Waste Management Options

Food manufacturers has a unique problem – excess product usually has a relatively short shelf life while most of the waste is organic in nature. Food waste created during the production process can be turned into animal feed and sold to goat farms, chicken farms etc. As far as WWTP sludge is concerned, top food manufacturers are recycling/reusing it through land application, anaerobic digestion and composting alternatives.

Organic waste at any food processing plant can be composted in a modern in-vessel composting and the resultant fertilizer can be used for in-house landscaping or sold as organic fertilizer as attractive prices.

Another plausible way of managing organic waste at the food manufacturing plant is to biologically degrade it in an anaerobic digester leading to the formation of energy-rich biogas and digestate. Biogas can be used as a heating fuel in the plant itself or converted into electricity by using a CHP unit while digestate can be used as a soil conditioner. Biogas can also be converted into biomethane or bio-CNG for its use as vehicle fuel.

Items such as cardboard, clean plastic, metal and paper are all commodities that can be sold to recyclers Lots of cardboard boxes are used by food manufacturers for supplies which can be broken down into flat pieces and sold to recyclers.

Cardboard boxes can also be reused to temporarily store chip packages before putting them into retail distribution boxes. Packaging can be separated in-house and recovered using “jet shredder” waste technologies which separate film, carton and foodstuffs, all of which can then be recycled separately.

Organizing a Zero Landfill Program

How do you develop a plan to create a zero landfill program or zero waste program in food and beverage producing company? The best way to begin is to start at a small-level and doing what you can. Perfect those programs and set goals each year to improve. Creation of a core team is an essential step in order to explore different ways to reduce waste, energy and utilities.

Measuring different waste streams and setting a benchmark is the initial step in the zero landfill program. Once the data has been collected, we should break these numbers down into categories, according to the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and identify the potential opportunities.

For example, inorganic materials can be categorized based on their end lives (reuse, recycle or landfill).  The food and beverage industry should perform a waste sort exercise (or dumpster dive) to identify its key streams.

Nestlé USA – A Case Study

In April 2015, Nestlé USA announced all 23 of its facilities were landfill free. As part of its sustainability effort, Nestlé USA is continually looking for new ways to reuse, recycle and recover energy, such as composting, recycling, energy production and the provision of safe products for animal feed, when disposing of manufacturing by-products.

Employees also work to minimize by-products and engage in recycling programs and partnerships with credible waste vendors that dispose of manufacturing by-products in line with Nestlé’s environmental sustainability guidelines and standards. All Nestlé facilities employ ISO 14001-certified environmental management systems to minimize their environmental impact.