Blog : The future of FMCG manufacturing is a system-based approach to the factory floor.

Line as a Machine

Line as a Machine (LaaM) is a new concept for Industry 4.0 packaging lines explained here by Earle Roberts, CEO of Foodmach.

Traditionally, packaging lines comprise a series of machines joined together by conveying.

The machines may or may not communicate with each other directly or through a form of line control.

However, Industry 4.0 brings opportunities for connectivity that cannot be realised by traditional factory models, where each piece of equipment effectively operates in a silo.

The solution is to take a holistic view of the entire line and treat it as a single, complete system with complete interoperability.

This doesn’t mean throwing in a few sensors, layering an IoT protocol over the top and calling it done.

As easy and economical as that option seems, it can result in missed OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and line management opportunities due to non-existent or incomplete data, critical security risks, and end up costing more in the long run anyway.

Ideally, the factory layout and equipment selection are optimised for speed and function.

Each piece of equipment is programmed to provide standardised information using standardised controls that report to a centralised line management execution system (LMES).

Using this more sophisticated approach provides the following benefits:

  1. An effective Line MES (Line Control) will poll each machine on the line multiple times per second, collect the standardised data, and present it in a visually intuitive way on a single interface to both operators and managers.

  2. Large amounts of data are turned into useful information to guide decision-making and predictive maintenance. OEE, benchmarks, trends and forecasts are available at a click.

  3. The information is secured using high-performance authentication, encryption and access rights management technologies.

  4. Useful data is delivered to the cloud for further analysis by enterprise resource management systems.

In effect, all the advantages of Industry 4.0 connectivity can be realised in a way that is secure and scalable.


Taking the integration of various best-in-breed machines one step further, Foodmach is shifting towards Line as a Machine (LaaM), emulating the model used by motor vehicle manufacturers.

Vehicles are a collection of parts from many OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) brought together and sold as a single machine with one point of responsibility for delivery, performance and service.

Why not treat the FMCG production line in the same way?

The customer and their operators can enjoy ‘driving’ a fast production line with a dashboard full of controls, accurate and seamless information and very high reliability, only having to deal with a single supplier for ongoing service and support.

We, as the line integrator, take complete responsibility for the delivery and continuing function of a fully optimised line.

We think Line as a Machine is perhaps the only approach that will capture the full benefits of Industry 4.0.

Our Pernod Ricard project (read more here) will be a good demonstration of its effectiveness.

For Pernod Ricard Wines, Foodmach is supplying 90 per cent of the equipment for what will perhaps be the most complex filling line in the southern hemisphere, with a line management execution system that makes it simple to operate, optimise and manage.

This article was first published in PKN Packaging News.

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