Smart industry 4.0 for the food industry

10 July 2020


Smart industry

We recently spoke to Johan van Holland, Sales Manager at Innius B.V. Johan left a comment on one of our community posts about New Blockchain technology “roadmap” for food industry. Due to the comment that Johan made, we got in contact about the smart industry 4.0 techniques and asked him kindly to give our community more insights about these techniques. Therefore we asked him the following four questions.

  • What are industry 4.0 manufacturing techniques, would you like to tell a short story about this?

Industry 4.0 is based on an x number of techniques you have. In particular, the following techniques are part of industry 4.0: digital transformation, artificial learning, VR, AR, machine learning, blockchain. These are all ingredients for industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 originated in Germany. One of the latest developments is that Asia is having an enormous income growth in the coming years.

Middle class in Asia increases by 1% per year. That is 70 million consumers with 7 billion in purchasing power. As a result of this, there is an increase in political influence, you still have to satisfy the population. Since there is only one globe, there is much competition. Who is going to enter this market, who is going to pick up the money and how? The purpose of Industry 4.0 is to produce MORE products at LOWER costs, lower raw material usage, less use of energy. Industry 4.0 is all about productivity. On the other hand, there is also a current development in production of goods that were first produced in Asia, now that will be done in the EU. These should be in the same price line as much as possible.

In the past, we used to have the ‘classic’ value chain. Example: Farmer delivers potatoes to the factory, factory makes French fries, this goes to the supermarket and that is how it gets to the customer. With industry 4.0 however, you have the farmers and producers who are in an ecosystem, but they are also going to communicate much more horizontal and vertical and diagonal. From top to bottom and from bottom to top, criss-cross. Every communication is based on data, for example: With the data that you have analysed, you will be able to calculate how you can produce with your machines, this means efficiency based on data.

An example:
You are especially smart as a producer if you can tell the greengrocer: I have that many tons of potatoes per customer, per different time of day, per year. And I use kind X, but I want all the pesticides out, everything is related to the collected data. And of the remains I want to have a product value so that the processed quantity is maximised, and this creates a purchasing advantage.

It starts internally with your machinery, what do you make with the machines, what is the production capacity/production speed per hour and what is your maximum quality that is achievable, the number of good products. This is the core of the production process. And everyone runs up against the fact that it has to be done at the lowest cost. Companies want to produce more and more at the lowest possible cost price, less energy, less staff, less hours, less raw materials and faster in time. This does not only apply to the food sector but for all sectors. The lease price of the machines must be paid back as soon as possible.

You will be able to this based on the collected data. The data gives your company insights into the things you are doing. When you do this in a competitive manner, you increase your relevance within the ecosystem in which you operate.

  • In what aspect is industry an improvement on ‘traditional’ manufacturing techniques for the food sector?

The traditional way of working involves a lot of paperwork. This is all being automated now. If you are good with data, it can give you useful insights. For example, a company works with three shifts. Then you will notice the following: A shift is always substandard. For example, this can vary from the operator. Then you give that operator a larger amount of money (reward) to train the other operators until they have the same level of performances. You can easily calculate how much you can earn when everyone is on a certain level. How much % of my net result is that on annual basis when I have that production level, then you set one goal and you can only do this based on the data that you have collected. Your cost per unit will decrease because you increase the production capacity.

How can you produce as cheaply as possible? You can make your primary process as cheap as possible using big data. Big data, not only in quantity, but especially in speed. You will distinct yourself from the competition if you communicate the collected data with your partners. Purchasing power is decreasing, you can produce as cheaply as possible using smart industry. This is an economic advantage of smart industry. You get a lot of information that you were not looking for, but which is very valuable. The non-sought valuable data is called ‘serendipity’. Furthermore, it will improve the traditional processes.

  • What challenges do you face with Smart industry 4.0 manufacturing techniques in the food sector?

You have an x number of thresholds; you have a technique, but you have no idea what you can do with it. There is a lot of ignorance and people are always busy with today, not looking ahead, poor vision, not daring to play and occupied with the concerns of every day. Having no insight into how to improve yourself and the age of current managers who are not familiar with the new techniques. Because there is also a lot of ‘business blindness’, people do not always see the need to apply adjustments.

  • Why is it necessary for the food industry to switch to Industry 4.0?

One important thing is to prevent as much waste as possible (Sustainability). We have too many mouths to feed in the world. Smart industry 4.0 allows you to have an efficient process which is also cost efficient but also guarantees the quality that you are used to. You can see through your data that you have x number of bad potatoes. Then you can use these ‘bad potatoes’ for different products at a different company. For example, you get much more value out of your resources, much more movement in your own network.  Smart industry 4.0 contributes to sustainability and allows you to make optimal use of your scarcity.


We want to thank Johan for his time and his insights about smart industry techniques for the food industry. Would you like to share your own story with us? Please contact us via info@foodsciencescommunity.com or +31(23)7548660.