Connecting the food & beverage industry with the IIoT, the Siemens MindSphere way

16 October 2018 | 6046 Shares


Food and beverage (F&B) production is a fickle marketplace. Product ranges change often, individual products come and go according to consumer preferences (and fashion), and individual recipes change over time.

So how can digital solutions help manufacturers and producers respond with the necessary speed while keeping costs at a minimum, maintaining hygiene standards, and being able to develop new products and revenue streams?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) plays a significant role in achieving these aims, and much more. While most F&B manufacturers are collecting data from across the production line, only around a third are using this data to help with decision making and planning for the future. Why is that?

Part of the issue is the amount of data that can be collated on a second-by-second basis. In modern production facilities, not only is every piece of plant equipped with many multiples of sensors, but other systems also may need to be “plugged into” the data processing equation too: supply chain systems, supplier data, information from existing ERP applications, and so forth.

A huge undertaking, then, and one that may be considered a mountain to climb. But, with the right technology, digitization can be gradual and successful in a stepwise manner. With Siemens solutions, businesses can concentrate on one area of production improvement via the application of IIoT power, and then progress as the need comes up and the benefits become apparent.


New generations of sensors in production equipment can track minute changes in function, in real time. The slightest erring from operational norms can be flagged, meaning maintenance can be scheduled before component failures interrupt outputs.

The IIoT’s ability to enable predictive maintenance is just one example of how technology can drive real business “wins,” with lower costs and increased production levels. This area of improvement is for many, step one on a longer digitization journey.

Other F&B organizations are looking at provenance. Increasing consumer demand for sourcing openness now means that manufacturers need greater supply chain visibility.

In a survey of US consumers, 92 percent said that it is either “somewhat important” or “very important” to know where their food is coming from.* This trend is spreading quickly to other geographies too – and F&B enterprises across the world are taking note. *Source: TraceOne Survey

The same technologies used to identify ingredient sources can also be deployed to ensure the highest levels of food safety. Having a real-time view of the supply chain will drive customer confidence, and improve standards simultaneously – as well as help plan more efficient production.

Finding a platform-agnostic data platform for the IIoT in food & beverage production is the first step. Instead of having to invest in highly CAPEX-intensive IT infrastructure, many are turning to the Siemens MindSphere platform, an open, cloud-based IoT operating system.

Built from the ground up with industrial use in mind, MindSphere is a platform which can not only gather multiple data sources (IIoT sensors, supply chain data, ERP-system information, and so on) but also make practical sense of the information.

Accessing MindSphere is simple. The only IT requirement is the installation of a MindConnect device, which acts as a secure gateway between the MindSphere cloud and the production facility. Once connected, all IIoT sensors and any in-house applications can connect to the cloud platform. The modular nature of MindSphere means that as systems change, or new plants come online, they can be scaled as needs change.

With MindSphere, the IIoT landscape can be shaped to increase production quality and drive down costs.

The food and beverage industry must be able to rapidly adapt production to new requirements at all times – and to always work efficiently and produce optimal quality. With MindSphere, this is possible due to the ground-up build nature of the platform – this is not a cloud provision for general use. Instead, MindSphere was developed by Siemens for industry use, in high-volume, business-critical production facilities.

Digitization with MindSphere and the IIoT gives F&B producers the flexibility needed to accomplish cost savings and optimal production while also boosting energy efficiency. Solutions tailored specifically to the requirements of the industry’s production processes ensure reliable production and product quality that can be reproduced at all times.

Siemens’ specialized digital enterprise-level technologies enable manufacturing companies at any scale to streamline and digitize the entire business, seamlessly integrating suppliers into the mix. Beginning at any point of the value chain, from product design to service, digitization can be deployed gradually, depending on current needs.

To learn more about MindSphere, read the previous articles in this series here and here, or better yet, see a virtual demo, then get in touch with a Siemens representative.