Taking a digital approach to drinks
Life at Siemens
Keeping manufacturers and end consumers front of mind to deliver better beverages
What journey has that bottle of juice been on before reaching your hands? Is this type of pre-purchase knowledge even possible? Actually, it is. As an engineer at Siemens China, Yuan Jiuzheng and his team are busy developing product-based solutions and project support for manufacturers in the food and beverage industry
With the huge improvement in people’s living standards, consumers in China are increasingly looking for exciting and enticing food and drink propositions.
“A lot of young people are keen to try new things, and our manufacturing clients are required to respond quickly to changing market demands”, says Yuan, who works on digital solutions for all stages of the production process.
Yuan and his team recently completed a digitization project for China’s largest beverage company, Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co., Ltd., which included an upgrade of the water and aerated water lines at its Hangzhou facility. This project has created some of the first intelligent lines in the food and beverage industry.
By keeping manufacturers and end-consumers staying front of mind at all times, the team delivered solutions that can fulfill three key requirements:
1. Customization in mass production
When Siemens started working with Wahaha, it was clear that many factories were facing similar problems – namely production lines were not flexible enough. “Lines were accustomed to large-scale production, where labels were affixed to bottles with no room for customization” , says Yuan.
“But with customers increasingly demand for specially created small batches –branded water bottles for a conference or personalized wine bottles for a wedding – production lines needed to adapt. This meant separating what was once one large order into several different segments, which required the factory to have access to different modes of production”, says Yuan.
2. Quality control along the supply chain
Siemens’ solutions help clients have total control over the quality at all stages. “There are two different requirements that have to be observed here. One for the customers, who want to know when the product was produced, what equipment was used, which batch of raw materials was used, and details about the production process as a whole”, says Yuan.
Then, on the other hand, the factory needs to know what is happening with each specific batch, such as what operations were performed by personnel and interventions, and what kind of anomalies have come up with the equipment.
“The whole process has to be transparent. In the future, customers will be able to trace the quality of goods using this technology”, says Yuan.
A lot of young people are keen to try new things, and our manufacturing clients are required to respond quickly to changing market demands
3. Time saving and energy efficiency
Driven by the incentive to refine production processes and improve the efficiency of all lines, Yuan and his team explored equipment at every stage of production to work out how efficient the machines could potentially be, before identifying why certain processes were running slowly and looking into ways to improve the speed.
“Wahaha operates hundreds of production lines that need to be continuously running”, says Yuan, “Central coordination between the equipment is highly important. That is to say, we have to make sure in case a device breaks down, the other devices will continue operating.”
With a central control system, they were able to coordinate the entire production line, thereby raising efficiency and reducing the knock-on effects of individual components running into difficulty. And when it comes to energy efficiency, they found original main line production and power supply needed to be better managed.
“If we improve the energy system for a client, the factory will know how to use energy in a more cost-efficient way. They can control the system by managing the energy. For instance, one way to save energy is to have an auto on-off switch based on each order. To accomplish the goal, we need to use data. Implementing a refined system solution will help improve efficiency. This can be passed to the data flow, so that the energy supply can be optimized according to the needs of the production line.”
Essentially, the point is to use data to optimize the operation of the entire production line. This enables centralized monitoring, flexible production, and quality tracing, as well as improving energy efficiency and productivity. Yuan’s work is just one example of Siemens China’s increasing digital enterprise portfolio.
Yuan Jiuzheng is an engineer at Siemens China.
Yuan is a Future Maker – one of the 377,000 talented people working with us to shape the future.