Industry 4.0 is on the way. Smart factories are making their appearance, also in the food ingredients industry. Thanks to smart technology, industrial systems can make adjustments themselves based on objective data. That gives a lot of possibilities. Also for operators at AVEBE, a market-oriented cooperative of starch potato growers. During the Digital Factories (IFFI) event on September 15th, the digitization process in the food ingredients industry will be the topic.

Bas Gerrits is Manager Operations and Logistics Derivatives at AVEBE. He says that he is gaining more and more experience with digitization: ¨AVEBE is working on an organizational change. We do this partly to accommodate our aging population. In order to be able to gain efficiency we are digitizing our processes. Together with a research agency, we looked at the work of operators in different levels of the organization. We had already extracted a lot of data from the systems. One step more is converting this data into appropriate information for our operators, making their work easier; more reliable and more manageable.¨

In practice

Gerrits continues: ¨In the past, an operator walked through the factory with a piece of paper in his hand to write down all kinds of registration, now a report is automatically generated from the data. The operator only needs to check and archive in the control room. There he monitors the entire process. In the past he monitored just one workplace, now he sometimes keeps an eye on three. In earlier days, the operator saw each pump running and valve switching via his screen. Today he just sees the progress of the process, using Level 1 screens.  For the cases where operator inspections are still wanted, we have developed an app for the Mendix platform. Utilized by an I-pad in every department where we deployed this new method of working. Incidentally, we have not only developed something new in the app, we have transferred our existing data to the app at the same time. Such as existing work instructions, and interfaces with other systems.¨ 


According to Gerrits, AVEBE has advanced well in the field of digitization. ¨Everyone is working on it. But I think we are at the forefront. I often hear other companies explain how they are setting up the technical infrastructure, as well as the ICT infrastructure. But they have yet to put the application into practice.¨

We therefore ask Bas Gerrits if he has any tips for other companies. He says: ¨We have set up the control room based on an ergonomic philosophy. With the help of virtual reality, we have offered employees the opportunity to ‘walk’ through different establishments in order to recognize the workplace. This is how people see the benefits of digitization. They also feel involved in the improvement program.¨

IFFI event

During the IFFI event Digital Factories on September 15th in the Havikshorst in De Schiphorst, Gerrits will elaborate on the matter that we bring forward in this article. Interesting to hear, because the food ingredients industry can no longer ignore digitization.

In addition to AVEBE, FrieslandCampina also talks about their view and approach in the field of digitization.

Register now for the Digital Factories event!


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