21 August 2020
Like many manufacturing sectors, the food
manufacturing industry has a unique set of requirements. Not only is it the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, accounting for 17 percent of all UK
manufacturing GVA (£28.2 billion), food manufacturing is also one of the most
heavily regulated. Hygiene, health and safety have always been of paramount
importance within the industry, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it
further safety and hygiene procedures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Now, perhaps more than ever, it’s vital
that food manufacturing businesses have what they need to safeguard and
streamline operational processes. Here’s how rugged mobile devices can help the
food manufacturing industry.
Devices tough and versatile enough for the job
Many forms of manufacturing come with demanding
working environments, and food production is no exception. Workers often go
from the deep freeze of the cold store to the hot and humid atmosphere of an
industrial kitchen multiple times a day, and a consumer grade tablet or mobile
device simply won’t be up to the job. They need a handheld device that can
withstand extremes of temperature without fogging up, dipping in performance,
or taking a battery life hit.
Thankfully, rugged mobile devices are designed to take the heat, the cold, and the rapid fluctuations
in between. Not only that, they’re built to keep out moisture and dust ingress,
survive shocks, withstand heavy vibrations from machinery and drops from
height, and come complete with ultra-long battery life to get through tough
shifts. Many rugged mobile handhelds and tablets are also responsive enough to
be used even while wearing gloves, giving food manufacturing workers the
ability to check workflows and log production processes whenever they need to.
A recent survey of organisations already using rugged tech found that 83 percent of workers reported better productivity when they didn’t have to worry
about their device breaking.
A digital infrastructure supports all aspects of food
So rugged mobile devices are undoubtedly
better suited to food manufacturing operations than standard ones, but why the
need for the any sort of device in the first place? A food production business
may function on purely manual process management, but comparing this to a
mobile device-led digital infrastructure is like weighing up a typewriter against
a super computer.
With tools in-built to collect and log all-important
data instantly – including long-range barcode scanners and megapixel cameras – rugged mobile devices transform the
challenge of operational visibility. Each worker with a handheld rugged mobile
can scan, track and log each action as they work, which feeds into a central
data store for an accurate and up-to-the-minute view of organisational
Every step of the food manufacturing cycle
is streamlined and tracked, from materials intake through to production and
shipping. This visibility is key for the food production sector, where timely,
temperature-regulated processes and ingredient traceability are so heavily
linked to food safety and compliance.
Rugged mobile devices enable contact-free communication
Large and noisy manufacturing environments
have never been easy places to communicate face to face, but now there’s even
greater need to ensure workers can stay connected in ways that are
Rugged mobile devices also fulfill the role
of traditional mobiles, enabling workers to communicate with each other via
WiFi, Wireless LAN or Bluetooth from wherever they are in the plant. Many
rugged mobile devices feature VOIP/speech recognition/push-to-talk applications
too, allowing users to get on with their tasks without always needing to have
the device in hand.
And, being rugged, these devices are easy to clean and built to
withstand regular deep cleaning in line with manufacturer’s guidance.
Interested in finding out more? To discover
what Touchstar’s rugged mobile devices could do for your food manufacturing
operation, please get in touch with our friendly team.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH
Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001. Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.
In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.