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I am a marketer building three different production lines for live demonstrations with actual food ingredients taking place at Process Expo this November.  On top of that, I am not an engineer so you can imagine what goes on in my head during our planning sessions with a dozen or so participating exhibitors as we talk about the food products we are producing. While it might spin my head, it never fails to amaze me what the equipment these OEMs can do.

This year’s show will feature innovative lines producing some popular products, from plant-based chicken nuggets to gluten-free focaccia and frozen meatballs. Each of these lines start with the introduction of raw ingredients and ends with a packaged product, including all the steps in between which our hostesses explain to the audience as they walk through each demonstration.

While this will be my third show organizing production lines, there’s always something that I learn at each demonstration, even now. Maybe it’s the complexity of the product formulation and how a particular product works with the various machines and/or packaging materials, or maybe it’s the speed at which this equipment can operate (after all, this is industrial equipment which can be upscaled for the larger CPG firms in attendance). In fact, we slow the production down significantly so that the audience can see what is actually happening. For some pieces of equipment, slowing it down is the challenge!

One thing that really fascinates me about this year’s lines is that the “chicken” nugget line demonstration will incorporate Industry 4.0 to help our attendees see the tremendous potential of collecting data at their fingertips. As the industry moves more and more in that direction, this will provide an additional benefit to attendees, beyond what is already an impressive exhibit. Spearheaded by Inductive Automation, who already works with companies like Starbucks, ConAgra and Coca-Cola, as well as a wide variety of food and beverage companies, this component of the demonstration is designed to show the simple but clear benefits of this cutting edge technology which are available to even small and mid-sized manufacturers.

These demonstrations will take place multiple times throughout the show day, right on the floor. If you haven’t yet attended Process Expo and seen the Production Lines, I encourage you to sign up today. The lines have always been our most popular show floor activity, drawing more than half of the show audience. Like I said, the “chicken” nugget line will feature the Industry 4.0 demonstration, but I guarantee you the focaccia and meatball lines will be just as interesting.

Just thinking about these makes me hungry!

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP