photo of a presentation at the Centre of SMART conference at Loughborough University London

Centre for SMART holds conference featuring industry-leading speakers

The Centre of Sustainable Manufacturing and Recycling Technologies (SMART) and Internet of Food Things (IoFT) Network Plus recently held an event at Loughborough University London to discuss how the food manufacturing industry can take advantage of opportunities brought forward by the advent of the fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0).

The rapid growth of digital technologies has made a significant impact on modern manufacturing, including the food sector.

The event, Digital Technologies for Improving productivity in Food Manufacturing, was held on 2 April to share best practices for incorporating and capitalising on current digital technologies in food manufacturing, and to discuss policy and regulatory challenges to the uptake of these technologies in the UK food sector.

Director of SMART, Shahin Rahimifard, is a Professor of Sustainable Engineering and opened the day by welcoming attendees and setting the stage for the facilitated discussions to be hosted.

Professor Rahimifard commented on the event: "We were pleased to partner with Internet of Food Things Network to host this event. Digital Technologies offer great opportunities for increasing productivity and improving sustainability in the UK food manufacturing industry. This event was a big success as it brought together leaders from across the supply chain and policymakers to discuss how the industry can work together to improve processes and overcome current barriers”.

He added: “The common theme from discussions was the great urgency for UK food manufacturers to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency through increased automation across their entire operations.”

Speakers at the event included Marc Jansen from the UK’s largest recipe-kit company Gousto, Keston Williams from Barfoots Limited and David May, Senior Project Manager at the Lincoln Institute of Agri-Food Technology, and John Titmuss, Director of Inflexionpoint.

Speaking about the progress and outcome of the day, John Titmuss said:

“Maintaining robust and resilient supply chains in the food sector, whilst making the very best of the many opportunities of "industry 4.0" is a big challenge for manufacturers, retailers and policy makers.

“With a combination of input of the SMART centre, practical examples from industry and the contribution from all the attendees, ably facilitated by Steve Brewer, this conference has landed some important pointers for our industry and I look forward to these being reflected in the briefing document.”

Three one-hour sessions took place during the day, covering topics on how digital technology can aid in resource-efficient production, build resilient and productive supply chains, and address changing consumer patterns.”

As a result of holding Digital Technologies for Improving Productivity in Food Manufacturing, a full briefing document based on the facilitated discussions held throughout the day will be published in June to highlight how companies across the supply chain can implement technologies and actionable steps for overcoming the challenges to using digital tools.

The Centre of SMART was established at Loughborough University in 2004 as a research and development centre. The team work to develop new strategies, tools and technologies that encourage sustainable growth in the manufacturing industry by enabling companies to meet legislative, environmental and ethical standards whilst safeguarding their future prosperity. Their research specialises in food industries, automotive, electronic, rail, and fast fashion.