Festo were once again headline sponsors for the Appetite for Engineering (A4E) conference located at the Manufacturing Technology Centre [MTC], Coventry.
A4E provides engineering professionals working in the food processing industry an opportunity to network and gain greater insight into the latest issues affecting industry today, and which may have an effect on profits tomorrow.
This year the event started off with a look into the future – the smart factories that we are all hearing about. Engineers working in the food sector explained why and how they are already seeing the benefits of implementing smart solutions in their food factories, in terms of increased productivity, efficiency and safety. Also discussed were some of the tools that are already being employed by food manufacturers who have started their ‘smart’ journey. The programme also dealt with the issues facing the food industry today. Presenters looked at the importance of hygienic design of equipment and processes. Delegates also got advice from food industry engineers about the challenges and benefits of implementing energy saving projects. The day concluded with a session focusing on one of the most challenging areas facing the industry today – people and skills development – and ways to tackle these issues such as how to ensure staff buy-in when introducing new automation technologies.
Steve Sands, Head of Marketing and Product Mangement at Festo, attended the day and said "The keynote by Ken Young, head of the Catapult MTC, looked at the benefits of automation and the dangers of not investing for productivity and quality. He was followed by interesting speakers and topics looking at diverse areas from the meaning of disruptive change to the wider roles for robotics in food production including the machining of personalised artisan chocolate and the topsy-turvy potential behind vertical farming. Skills, ‘black swan moments’ and the need and opportunities for people to enter the sector were explored by the well placed and informed afternoon presenters. The extremely broad spread of food manufacturers, machinery builders, technology suppliers, media, institutions and academics created many networking opportunities in-between the presentations".
Festo were proud to round off the day at the awards ceremony presenting the Young Engineer of the Year awards to Maxine Ford of Yeo Valley, Maya Parmar of Premier Foods, Matthew Ayres software engineer at OAL and Ashley Mickle workshop engineering apprentice at L.A.C Conveyors.