In order to keep up with global developments, digitalization is essential for the Dutch Food & Beverage-sector as well. During the masterclass event ‘Working together on the digital transition in Food & Beverage’, which was held March 12th(2019), Siemens and their solution partners laid the groundwork in order to speed things up in close cooperation with the producers in this sector.
The Food & Beverage-sector is an important economic player in the Netherlands. However, the sector invests relatively little in R&D and is facing big challenges at the same time. Developments are slow, both in terms of innovation and investment, and the number of start-ups within the sector is limited. Foodvalley NL, founded 15 years ago by foodstuff companies and Wageningen University, helps companies that are active in the Food & Beverage-sector innovate. “Digitalization is becoming ever more important,” said Roger van Hoesel, who is Foodvalley NL’s managing director. He gave a few examples of worldwide trends within the foodstuff industry, ranging from sustainable concepts for the production of food through personalized nutrition. There are currently companies that give people advice about their ideal food pattern, based on their DNA profile. Robots are working the land all over the world now and we get our groceries online. In the future intelligent refrigerators will be doing consumers’ grocery shopping for them. Thanks to digitalization new players arise in the market: IT-companies and foodstuff producers joining hands. “It is going to be increasingly important to know these players and consumers both in order to be successful in the sector”, according to Van Hoesel. “Also, there is a lot to gain from eliminating waste from the chain.”
Keeping each other on the mark
The Food & Beverage-sector is an interesting market for Siemens and its partners. Siemens has been targeting the development of the digital factory, based on 3D-printing, digital twins and IoT, to name but a few, for some years now. Freek Marks, head of the Siemens Digital Factory, underlined the need for faster development in order to bring new products to market. But efficiency, flexibility and quality are also crucial when you do not want to lag behind while the rest of the world advances. “We need to keep each other on the mark and create trust by adding more transparency to the chain”, according to Marks. “Producers in the Food & Beverage sector know their market very well. The solutions that we, as a tech company, develop, will help them digitalize and innovate. Our solution partners’ specialistic (process) know-how will guarantee immaculate implementation. This makes our triangular relationship strong, and we are looking to join forces even more. The important thing within this triangle is to keep looking towards the same goal. Too often we see that cooperation stalls because we, our partners and the end customer each have differentiated goals in sight.”
The next level
Reinforcing cooperation and finding solutions together was the main objective of the Food & Beverage masterclass event, and the partners that were present really appreciated this. The panel discussion showed, amongst other things, the importance of maintaining an ‘overview’. “Don’t let new trends and hypes drive you mad, but focus on what matters to your business. Keep it practical and manageable.” Partners would like to share knowledge with Siemens regularly and pass this on to their clients, so that innovative cloud-technology, for instance, can be implemented more often. Digitalization offers tremendous opportunities. We are in the midst of the industrial revolution 4.0. Solutions offered by automation really are the next level. In the Netherlands we are very good at innovative entrepreneurship and digitalization. Let’s take our principals on this journey with us.”
Investing is crucial
During the event CoNet and several partners provided a masterclass around themes such as business continuity, flexibilization of production processes, cloud-solutions and cyber security. “Every day partners nationwide work together in the transformation towards Industry 4.0. But we can step it up a little as of yet Industry 4.0 is not thought about enough in the Netherlands. Germany is way ahead of us in this respect.” Freek Marks said that is was cause for concern that innovation is always the first victim when the economy slows: “Even though the Dutch economy is doing very well right now, we cannot help but see that not enough innovation is being transformed. Industry 4.0, and with-it economic fire power, will however never be successful if there are no investments. This is essential for the future. Let’s approach this subject together with our end clients.”