The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), in partnership with the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at Queen’s University Belfast, held an event to highlight how the principles of Advanced Manufacturing can benefit food processing businesses.

Advanced Manufacturing can mitigate key challenges, including access to labor, rising costs of materials, and sustainability impacts affecting how businesses operate while trying to remain competitive. The event showcased equipment suppliers, integrators, and data systems for an increasingly autonomous processing industry. Attracting a large audience of industry delegates, academic staff, and policymakers who engaged with the demonstrators and listened to speakers, the event proved a popular forum for discussions.

Peter Simpson, Head of Food Technology at CAFRE, provided an overview of the key recommendations of the Digital Roadmap for Advanced Manufacturing in Agri-food – the outcome of a workshop held at Loughry Campus in May 2022. Recommendations included the need for a focus on skills development and knowledge transfer.

William McColgan from McColgans Quality Foods and Peter Higgins from NITC presented case study examples of the challenges and opportunities for the industry in adopting Advanced Food Manufacturing technologies, highlighting the importance of data analytics for decision-making.

“Futureproofing the Food Industry Driving Smarter Decisions with Digital Solutions” was delivered by Sean Baird, Business Development Executive Foods Connected. This provided insight into a range of digital platforms built by a local company for a global market.

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