Digitization has long since irrevocably and decisively changed consumer behavior. Whether it’s through online retail, e-book readers or streaming services, products and services are available individually and at any time. But what about individually tailored beverages?
The beverage industry is undergoing significant changes as a result of the digital revolution. Marketing is also facing new challenges due to the growing expectations of consumers. Driven largely by online retail, customers have grown used to being able to purchase products independent of time and place. And they increasingly expect specific products tailored to their individual needs. That’s why marketing departments need to respond to such customer demands at an ever faster pace. A look at today’s range of beverages already shows an unprecedented variety of beverages, ingredients and packaging types.
Individualization of beverages through Industry 4.0
To successfully keep up with the megatrend of individualization both technologically and commercially, the beverage industry faces the challenges of increasingly flexible production. Small batch sizes with specific products and packaging are in demand. “Industry 4.0” is the keyword currently circling around the significant changes currently taking place. The digitization of production offers innovative possibilities all the way down to an ever greater individualization of products, making highly flexible series production and automated bottling of mini batches possible. Digital direct printing provides the necessary customized label design.
RoboFill 4.0: Individualized bottling of beverages?
The big question is: How much flexibility is truly feasible? And how small can the batches be? Will customers in the foreseeable future be able to order beverages with individualized recipes at the touch of a button? The Technical University of Munich is currently conducting a research project on individualized bottling of beverages with batch size 1: RoboFill 4.0. Envisioned is a reference model for the “flexible, product-driven and industrial bottling of customer-specific beverages.” A functional demonstration model should be available by 2018. It’s an exciting topic that not only marketing departments will be dealing with intensively – drinktec, of course, will also provide an opportunity to take a closer look at various future scenarios. Krones AG, for example, has announced that it will present a pilot system that in the future will fill and package products individually and just in time.
Beverages as individual as people
Consumers in the mood for pizza have long been able to put together pizzas as they wish by app. This consumer preference is increasingly expected for other products as well – including beverages. Whether avoiding certain ingredients due to allergies, looking for specific trends or wanting a particularly healthy diet, consumers increasingly expect beverage recipes that are tailored to their personal preferences.
Recipes for success in the beverage market are also in store at drinktec. In its role as a driver of innovation, drinktec provides the right impetus for the challenges of today and tomorrow: One of the main topics at the drinktec Forum is batch size 1. In keeping with this theme, Dr. Tobias Voigt from the Chair of Food Packaging Technology at the Technical University of Munich will speak on “Industry 4.0 in the beverage industry – the model project RoboFill for agent-driven flexible bottling in batch size 1”.