June 15, 2020, by Hazel Sayers

The Future of Factory Cleaning Framework

Responsible cleaning data collection and use framework

Ensuring a hygienic production environment is one of the biggest challenges facing food and drink manufacturers, as the industry responds to a growing demand for closer monitoring of cleaning standards and challenges from elevated allergen management, against the constant backdrop of cost pressures.

‘Industry 4.0’—the next industrial revolution—promises to radically overhaul all levels of the food and drink manufacturing industry, from reducing food waste and increasing factory productivity, to reducing the impact on the environment across the entire supply chain. This is all set to be driven by enhanced sensing, data collection, and new cross-supply chain integrated digital technologies. One key area that stands to benefit from this revolution is cleaning operations within factories. Through the adoption of new technologies—including robotics, on-line in-factory sensors, and machine learning—businesses will be able to harness increased productivity and efficiency.

In conjunction with the RoboClean project at the University of Nottingham, the IoT Enhanced Factory Cleaning project has conducted interviews with SME and multinational food and drink manufacturers in the UK to understand their existing cleaning practices and perspectives of how new technologies could—or could not—change these. These projects aim to demonstrate how semi-autonomous cleaning robots could handle the task of floor cleaning and allergendetection in the factory. In collaboration with the AI3 Science Discovery (AI3SD) and Internet of Food Things (IoFT) EPSRC Networks, we also held a workshop to discuss how digital technologies such as AI, sensors, and robotics can be used for enhanced allergen detection and factory cleaning within food production environments.

This report produced by the IoT Enhanced Factory Cleaning project introduces the future technologies that are expected to fundamentally reshape the work of cleaning food and drink factories, focusing on the possibilities for data collection and use that these technologies enable. Data serves as the core commodity that will help deliver the changes across the industry, allowing for greater fidelity and traceability across the supply chain. However, data, especially of a commercially sensitive or even personal nature, must be handled responsibly to avoid misuse or misinterpretation, which would undermine any of the benefits gleaned from enhancing data collection in the first place.


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