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 manufacturing

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 performance.

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 contact-free.

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.


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