Welcome to 2018! And as you’ve most likely noticed already, Food Engineering has a completely new design.

Over the last year, the editorial staff took a hard look at our magazine, and we determined it was in desperate need of an overhaul. We are dedicated to reporting on the latest trends and happenings in the food and beverage processing industry. The problem, we concluded, was some of that great information was getting lost in the layout and formatting.

We understand you are very busy, so we wanted to incorporate much more visually grabbing content that flows more easily and is enticing to read. Among the changes, we have a new section named “Nuts and Bolts” to give readers a glimpse of some interesting stories we are running on our website, but don’t usually have room for in the print issues. We also wanted to change the name of our Technology Sourcebook products section to the more aptly named New Plant Products.

This new design goes hand in hand with what we are seeing in the industry. Our cover story does a great job of encapsulating some of the monumental changes that are happening with Industrial Internet of Things technology. The new capabilities are transforming operations and ushering in a new era of manufacturing.

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a big consumer of podcasts. Recently, I listened to the Freakonomics episode entitled “Are We Running Out of Ideas?” The premise was that productivity growth has been shrinking in the last few decades, and one idea to explain this is that innovation is harder to do. One economist posited that most companies have already become as efficient as possible.

I can’t really speak for other industries, but I know from first-hand experience that there is a lot of room for growth in increasing operational efficiencies in many food and beverage plants. Many times, companies can get a little complacent on innovating and continuous improvement when production is running just fine. However, it takes a change in regulations or consumers, or both, to throw a major wrench in operations.

A vice president of operations for a dairy processing company recently told me a local dairy company had been shuttered because a big retailer said its food safety practices weren’t up to snuff. Because this company had not invested in its production processes, it is no longer in business. And that’s not the first time I’ve heard a story like that.

We all have to grow and change by embracing the future. There are a lot of food and beverage companies using new solutions to do just that. I’m proud to announce we have invited some of these companies to tell their stories at Food Engineering’s Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference this spring. I hope you’ll consider joining us to learn about the possibilities to advance food and beverage production now and in the future.

In the meantime, please enjoy our newly redesigned magazine. To paraphrase the common advertising trope used when a package is redesigned: Food Engineering: New look, same great information!