Industry 4.0 Food Factory of the Future event at CAFRE

Date published: 16 November 2022

The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), in partnership with the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at Queen’s University Belfast, held an event to highlight how the principles of Advanced Manufacturing can benefit food processing businesses.

Advanced Manufacturing can mitigate key challenges including access to labour, rising costs of materials and sustainability impacts that are affecting how businesses operate whilst trying to remain competitive. The event showcased equipment suppliers, integrators and data systems for an increasingly autonomous processing industry. Attracting a large audience of industry delegates, academic staff and policy makers who engaged with the demonstrators and listened to speakers the event proved a popular forum for discussions.

Peter Simpson, Head of Food Technology at CAFRE, provided an overview of the key recommendations of the Digital Roadmap for Advanced Manufacturing in Agri-food – the outcome of a workshop held at Loughry Campus in May 2022. Recommendations included the need for a focus on skills development and knowledge transfer.

William McColgan from McColgans Quality Foods and Peter Higgins from NITC presented case study examples of the challenges and opportunities for industry in adopting Advanced Food Manufacturing technologies, highlighting the importance of data analytics for decision making

“Futureproofing the Food Industry Driving Smarter Decisions with Digital Solutions” was delivered by Sean Baird, Business Development Executive, Foods Connected. This provided an insight into a range of digital platforms built by a local company for a global market.

Finally, Andrew Martin, Head of Food & Drink, Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru and Chair of High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) Food and Drink Community Wales highlighted the lessons learnt on a digital journey from a Welsh perspective. This included the challenges in quality, production visibility, space constraints, labour availability, product quality and waste, all contributing to the complexities in improving process efficiency.

If you would like further information on Advanced Manufacturing , please contact Peter Simpson, Email: or Dessie Brady, Email:

Information on other food business support can be found on the college website or Telephone 0800 028 4291.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption - The presenters that took part during the event. L-R: Sean Baird, Business Development Executive, Foods Connected; Peter Higgins, Digital Manufacturing Lead, NITC, Queen’s University Belfast; Peter Simpson, Head of Food Technology, CAFRE; Andrew Martin, Head of Food & Drink, AMRC Cymru & Chair of HVMC Food and Drink Community; William McColgan, Director, McColgans Quality Foods.
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