Improving Food Safety with AR and VR

Food and beverage is one of the largest industrial sectors across the world. Increasing population, rising disposable income, and rapid economic growth have resulted in strong growth of this industry. Within the year 2022, the global market for food and beverage is expected to touch almost $10,000 billion. This growing market brings significant opportunities as well as risk factors to the industry players.

The food industry players have always had to deal with the highest levels of regulatory standards. With a growing demand for niche products and variety, the companies have a serious need to enhance their service capabilities. This is why the implementation of advanced technology has now become more important than ever before. When it comes to improving food safety and worker safety, the role of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is undeniable.

Training of New Employees: New employee onboarding and training is a time consuming and expensive endeavour in any industry. During this phase, it is important for the organisations to impart the required skillsets. Similarly, the employees must be able to retain those skillsets. The consequences of a failed onboarding and training can be devastating for a food related business. For example, an assembly line error may lead to faulty products, worker and customer injuries, product recalls, and much more.

Whether an employee is engaged in coffee brewing or pizza cutting, VR can be used to provide an entirely new kind of training experience to the employees. Food processing companies that have already started using VR-based employee training have done extremely well in terms of employee retention. It has been observed that one year after the completion of training, virtual reality has helped employers achieve a retention rate of 80%. Interestingly, this rate is a lowly 20% for food businesses using traditional training techniques.

The food processing industry is known to be an employment sector with high turnover. By using VR technology for training, it is possible to make the workers feel more engaged and better prepared for their work. This can reduce employee churn significantly

Elimination of Food Processing Errors: The utility of augmented reality in maintenance, manufacturing, and other sectors is already well established. For example, AR headsets can be provided to an automotive plant’s assembly line workers to provide them detailed breakdowns of their task through a digital overlay in their peripheral vision. In food and beverage manufacturing, as workers prepare food items in a distribution or manufacturing facility, AR headsets can provide them a superimposed list of processing or inspection tasks to follow.

It is important to note that augmented reality alone can’t bring the number of food product recalls to zero.  However, the implementation of this technology minimises the likelihood of inspectors and line workers missing critical packaging or processing steps that often lead to spoilage or contamination.

Food Preparation Learning Curve: In the culinary world, there are numerous food products that are extremely dangerous, if proper measures and specific steps are not followed during preparation. Kidney beans, cashews, multiple root vegetables, various species of fish, and elderberries are some examples of products that can cause illness and even death, if the correct steps are not taken before consumption. Most of these items are known as luxury food, and have specialised cooking procedures to make them fit for human consumption. Any failure to do that can easily lead to immediate health issues. The likelihood of these incidents can be reduced significantly by using augmented reality. It can assist the chefs with ongoing reminders and guidance without diverting their attention from work.

Efficient Warehousing: One of the emerging trends in the global food industry is the rising demand for ordering food online. Many of today’s consumers are also interested in ordering even highly perishable foodstuffs online.  It has always been a major and ongoing struggle for the food industry to ensure smooth operations in the supply chain for perishable food and beverage.  According to the World Health Organization, approximately 600 million people fall ill around the world every year because of foodborne issues.

This problem can’t be solved entirely by augmented reality, but it can significantly reduce a major potential source of contamination and spoilage. Use of AR headsets by the order pickers can address the inefficiencies in packing and picking operations.

  • With AR headsets, they can receive visual prompts that will help them quickly find out the designated stow locations after receiving refrigerated freight.
  • The ability to locate the pick locations more efficiently.

In both these instances, the employees will be able to quickly and efficiently navigate warehousing locations with the visual cues they will receive from AR.  This will significantly reduce the likelihood of food products remaining stuck in unrefrigerated areas and coming into contact with pathogens and noncompliant temperatures.

These were just a few examples of how a food processing unit can benefit from AR and VR technologies. Please contact us at Lumix, if you are looking for any solution related to your unit’s service, ingredients, and machinery. We offer end-to-end solutions that are best for the industrial food and meat processing industry.