"Got milk?" "Get a life!" These popular sayings may soon be replaced, at least in food and beverage operations circles, by a new mantra: Get an automation strategy.

In addressing the food and beverage sector attendees at Emerson's Global Users Exchange Conference in Orlando last month, John Blanchard, principal analyst with ARC Advisory Group, said that today's key food industry drivers include: flexibility to meet customer needs; product quality and safety; customer requirements; regulatory requirements; more and often complicated new products; speed-to-market for new products; and loss of key experienced staff known as "knowledge workers."

To address these challenges Blanchard believes processors should embrace modern quality systems that support continuous improvement and innovation as well as validated product quality and safety. For example, he says, in order to be successful, processors need: greater data visibility, more effective product lifecycle management, and an enterprise-wide automation infrastructure that supports collaborative arrangements for extensive information collection, management, analysis, and sharing for decision support.

"Food and beverage manufacturers find themselves caught between slow growth, rising costs, waning pricing power, accelerated regulatory and customer requirements and a growing percentage of sales from a limited number of powerful and demanding retailers," says Blanchard. His advice: "Get an automation strategy!"

For more information visit www.arcweb.com.