Opinion

Forget tomorrow, the future is already here

Internet of Things prepares for Internet of Things

There is much talk these days about the impact of the Internet of Things – the new interconnected world in which machines share data to radically enhance intelligence and control – on the future of manufacturing, and food and drink manufacture in particular.

But, like many futuristic projections, I suspect this is being over hyped by equipment and system suppliers with a keen eye on the next juicy source of profit.

I’m reminded of the ‘Millennium bug’ of 2000, with doom-mongers flagging up how the world’s computer systems would crash on the stroke of midnight unless we spent squillions upgrading our software systems.

But, despite my innate cynicism, I am excited by recent advances in science, technology and data analysis, that are driven by real need – not least in the fields of automation and robotics by labour and skills shortages.

Advances in science, technology and data analysis

Consultancy PwC has just released the results of research, which predicted by the early 2030s, around 46% of manufacturing jobs would be done by robots.

Although that is far enough off to be forgotten should it prove to be wrong, some life-changing technological advances are already here or just about to transform our lives.

Whole gene sequencing and data analytics, combined with monitoring of social media, are already being used to identify the sources of food poisoning outbreaks. Elsewhere better understanding of gut bacteria and personalised nutrition are about to transform new product development in food and drink.

And, in this issue, we report on new wearable technology and predictive risk-based analytical techniques that could truly revolutionise the way hygiene audits are conducted.

We truly live in interesting times.

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