Enpro bottle packaging machine

How Enpro, Inc. Uses RFID to Improve Efficiency for Its Customers

How RFID Is Improving Efficiency in the Food & Beverage Industry — A Case Study With Enpro, Inc.

The food and beverage (F&B) sector is a huge global industry with Research & Market indicating an expected value of $7,525.7 billion by 2023. The filling machine category within the F&B sector is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 3.4% through 2027. The F&B industry’s steady growth, especially that of the food and bottle packaging group, isn’t surprising. The industry was one of the only ones to continue growth trends during the pandemic with heightened consumer demand for many bottled goods.

Although many of the challenges in food and beverage manufacturing aren’t new, they are being addressed in new contexts. The automated systems that the industry has adopted over the years have enabled it to scale and high-speed manufacturing allows employees to work faster, better and safer. Speed, accuracy, and efficiency are key when productivity is marked in minutes, if not seconds. When detection of problems remains a manual task and any unobserved issues lead to malfunctions, massive losses in time and product can occur. Companies are turning to Radio Frequency Identification — otherwise known as RFID — to address their pain points.

How RFID Is Addressing Challenges in the Food & Beverage Industry — Enpro, Inc. Case Study

RFID technology has applications in a wide range of verticals from healthcare to agriculture and manufacturing, and can mitigate risk in hazardous environments, such as offshore drilling. It’s a solution that’s been in use for many years and is ubiquitous in our everyday lives. While we may not see RFID working behind the scenes, it makes the flow of goods and services more efficient. In fact, RFID technology is one of the most promising innovations for the F&B industry, offering condition monitoring, tracking and traceability applications that benefit suppliers, business owners and consumers alike.

Equipment manufacturers are helping transform operations through new, innovative approaches. We recently spoke with Enpro, Inc. — an Illinois company that provides traceable components and systems to bottlers and package fillers in the food and beverage sector — about the results of a joint project between HID, Enpro, Inc. and FEIG Electronics to monitor the status of filler vent tubes for increased safety and lower operational costs in bottling facilities.

Vent tubes are an important part of automated bottling lines. Vent tubes are used to fill cans and bottles and vent out carbonation-related gas in the process. Occasionally, due to wear and tear, these vent tubes can fall off and into the cans and bottles creating safety and quality issues. As a part of the manufacturing process, fill line workers manually inspect bottles and cans on the line to ensure vent tubes are present. When missing vent tubes aren’t detected, malfunctions on the fill line have a major operational impact, including line downtime and loss of finished product.

Enpro, Inc.’s customers needed a solution that could reliably detect the presence or absence of a vent tube, taking the burden off fill line workers and reducing errors. Enpro, Inc. partnered with HID and FEIG Electronics to automate the process of monitoring vent tubes. The team worked together to design and develop a contactless system utilizing a FEIG Electronics LRM2500 High Frequency (HF) reader, an HID Global SLIX2 HF ring tag and custom-developed Enpro, Inc. electronics to create a Filler Vent Tube Reader system (FVTR). The SLIX2 tag is injection-molded into vent tubes, and as bottles pass the reader, it reads the tag to confirm the vent tube presence. The result? The FVTR system reads up to 800 tags per second, increasing efficiencies in workflow and quality control.

The Future of RFID in the Food & Beverage Sector

The FVTR solution is just an example of what is possible with RFID technology. RFID not only makes the plant floor more effective but plays a valuable role in tackling issues beyond monitoring and tracking, such as product recalls, supply chain waste, counterfeiting and theft. Product integrity and safety will become more important as demand continues to rise, and contactless, automated solutions will play an integral role for organizations who want to be first movers.

Download the case study to get the full story on the collaboration between HID, Enpro, Inc. and FEIG Electronics. We also invite you to learn more about RFID solutions, including location services, equipment condition monitoring, and asset tracking and the ways it could benefit your business.

Richard Aufreiter, VP Product Marketing, HID Global is driving HID’s diverse and flexible portfolio of identification technologies across frequencies and applications. With vast expertise in RFID/NFC, encryption systems, PKI, biometry and mobile security, he brings over 20 years of leading product management and engineering in the IT and RFID industry.