The current Coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of everyday life. Industries are taking a big hit, especially those that require people to work in close contact with one another. One industry affected by these new conditions is the Food and Beverage industry. While other major industries, such as Personal Care and Pharmaceuticals. are projected for growth and expansion into the next calendar year, and not as a surprise, the Food and Beverage industry seems to forecast contraction. What makes them say that, though?
When looking at the Beverage side of the industry, nearly all its indexes fall short of the total market standards. Industry insiders are also not too optimistic about the lasting impact of the current global situation. While it is understandable that it will affect the current conditions, worries that the effects will still be felt in the future are rising. However, some positives are emerging. Many players in the Beverage industry have adapted to the use of remote access and monitoring, which has arisen due to safety protocols to protect employees during this time. This development has also sparked optimism amongst those in the industry that such remote access and monitoring will not only continue but will increase in the future to make for more efficient environments, even once the health crisis ends. The Beverage industry also reported a lower index of robot use, but plans to increase this to market equivalent are underway.
The Foods and Food Preparation side of the industry has experienced a similar situation, but there are a few key differences that sets it apart. Whereas the Beverage industry fell short of almost all of its reported indexes in comparison to total market standards, the Food side registered higher on most indexes than the standard. Where it did not, it either fell close to equal or the difference was not as significant. Before the health crisis set in, the Food industry was experiencing a period of rapid growth, which likely was a factor in its numbers holding stronger than its counterpart. The Food side has also experienced some expansion between recent months despite the situation. Like the Beverage counterpart, the Food industry forecasts growth in its remote access and monitoring, and hopes for increases in the use of robots to help the continued production in unprecedented times and beyond.
Innovations and advancements are always developing, but it seems that such growth has never been more prevalent than right now, and such growth may be beneficial once the health crisis ends and workplaces are safely able to return to normal. Because of social distancing requirements implemented to help prevent the spread of the virus, tasks that once seemed common now are turned upside-down, especially if done with multiple people or in close proximity to one another. With concerns like this, issues arise of whether productivity or safety take precedent. One idea that has arisen, from Siemens, is a real-time location system, which helps manage and maintain distance between employees. However, it also can be used to find something that is needed but whose location is unknown. The system offers a close pinpoint of location, but can ultimately help track efficiency by monitoring product location and mapping quick routes for production.
Other technologies are being developed and used to help monitor distancing guidelines and send warnings should people come too close to one another. Kinexon has developed SafeZone, a wristband that helps monitor how close people are to one another, ultimately sending alerts should employees get too close to one another. ProGlove has a similar technology, utilizing wearable barcode scanners that help alert people of coming in too close proximity to one another through visual alerts, such as lights, as well as sounds and notifications sent to people’s phones. While this is useful to help prevent close contact that could result in possible infection, these technologies are also useful to track contact should an infection be reported, that way those who were in contact with the sick employee can take appropriate reaction. But, once the health crisis is over, it is nearly certain that companies will find ways to adapt these technologies to make production smoother and help further advancements.