Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR
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Packaging the Future

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Tech Trends went to Sweden to see how Tetra Pak is moving into Industry 4.0 by using technologies such as Mixed Reality.

Tetra Pak is one of the largest companies that most people never heard of. Chances are, however, that you’ve used one of their products very recently, as the Swedish company supplies food processing and packaging solutions to manufacturers in more than 175 countries. Last year alone, they sold 188 billion packages, netting $12.2 billion in sales.

The original Tetra Pak carton changed the milk industry back in the 1950s Click To Tweet

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

Their original carton changed the milk industry back in the 1950s. At a 1961 press conference in Switzerland, the company presented the first machine for aseptically filled bacteria-free milk, but they haven’t stopped innovating in the decades since, and are now at the forefront of implementing technologies that will enable it to continue to scale its global operations in a much smarter way.

“Over the past few years we’ve invested in new technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation and data exchange to enhance traceability, predict potential machine problems and optimise operational performance for our customers,” explains Johan Nilsson VP, Digitalisation and Industry 4.0 at Tetra Pak. ”By embracing everything that the 4th Industrial Revolution can offer, we can shape the future, and help customers seize the tremendous opportunities in tomorrow’s connected world.”

Industry 4.0 is essentially the idea of smart manufacturing, achieved through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which collects and connects data from devices to improve processes and increase efficiency in real-time. Digital technologies such as machine-learning, augmented reality and many others are part of that picture, as they can connect workforces, transform processes, analyse data, and provide greater visibility and flexibility across our supply chains.

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

By connecting packaging lines to the Microsoft Azure Cloud, Tetra Pak can collect operational data to help predict informed maintenance timing Click To Tweet

Across all sectors, we’ve seen businesses investing in the equipment and software that allows this information to flow between different platforms, people, and business processes to create new data-based revenue streams and systems. One example of how this works in practice is that Tetra Pak have sensors on more than 5,000 filling machines at customers’ sites, all connected to Microsoft Azure, which feed real-time performance data to the company for monitoring and analysis – nearly 700 million data points each year. As a result, maintenance can be scheduled much more precisely and cost-efficiently.

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

By connecting packaging lines to the Microsoft Azure Cloud, Tetra Pak can collect operational data to help predict informed maintenance timing. This means they can better foresee machine problems and quickly spot breakdowns – reducing plant downtimes

“When you have plants around the world, the service knowledge we gain from one plant comes to benefit another. This prevents issues from happening,” says Nilsson.

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

Data that’s gleaned from connected machines gives company technicians an operational snapshot across thousands of packaging machines in use. That information helps service engineers swiftly answer critical questions, such as: When did a specific failure happen and how long did it last? What was that machine’s temperature at the time? What was the pressure? The performance data is aggregated and available on technicians’ mobile devices.

Like many enterprises in various industrial sectors, Tetra Pak is using Mixed Reality technology to optimize its processes and increase efficiency Click To Tweet

When equipment does break down, however, the company has streamlined machine diagnostics and repairs for customers using Microsoft HoloLens devices. Like many enterprises in various industrial sectors, Tetra Pak is using Mixed Reality technology to optimize its processes and increase efficiency.

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

Back in 2017, Tetra Pak began selling service agreements that incorporated HoloLens to enable the company’s local service representatives to triage diagnoses and repairs in real time with heads-up, hands-free calling. By integrating those capabilities with Microsoft Azure, system specialists were empowered to remotely guide a HoloLens-wearing service engineer – via Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist – through the steps to fix the machine thousands of miles away.

“This is how we take the global expertise that we have available somewhere in Tetra Pak and bring it to the fingertips of the engineer in the countryside in Chile or Pakistan,” explains Nilsson, adding that this significantly cuts repair time and saves huge amounts of money in reduced downtime, not to mention travel costs.

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

“Our partnership with Tetra Pak and their investment in the technology is further evidence of the potential of Mixed Reality within automation and manufacturing,” says Lorraine Bardeen, general manager, Mixed Reality Business Applications, Microsoft.

Industry 4.0 has the potential to not only save manufacturers vast amounts of money, but also improve things across the board for businesses, employees and customers Click To Tweet

“In the context of industry 4.0, Mixed Reality is expediting processes such as engineering and maintenance to support the creation of smart factories, and companies like Tetra Pak are reimagining their business by leveraging modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that bring together the vast amounts of data across their organization to empower their employees with new tools for productivity.

Industry 4.0 has the potential to not only save manufacturers vast amounts of money, but also improve things across the board for businesses, employees and customers through sustainable use of resources, safer maintenance cycles, and empowered employees.

In 2017 Tetra Pak began selling service agreements that incorporated HoloLens to enable the company’s local service representatives to triage diagnoses and repairs in real time Click To Tweet

Industry 4.0 will ultimately enable global industrial operations such as Tetra Pak to function even more efficiently and intuitively Click To Tweet With connected technology, advanced analytics and mixed reality simulation with technologies like HoloLens, our factories will never look the same, with 40% of operational processes becoming self-healing and self-learning by 2022.

“A product of mixed reality among other technologies, industry 4.0 will ultimately enable global industrial operations such as Tetra Pak to function even more efficiently and intuitively,” adds Bardeen. “With Mixed Reality, we can understand data in context and simplify workflows to extend human ability. When this happens workers feel more effective, businesses see more progress and everyone has a chance to participate in the modern workplace.”

Tech Trends Tetra Pak Innovation Industry 4.0 Mixed Reality HoloLens Microsoft VR

For companies looking to get into Immersive technologies such as VR/AR/MR/XR our Virtual Reality Consultancy services offer guidance and support on how best to incorporate these into your brand strategy.

Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.


Also published on Medium.