The University was approached by the kosher biscuit manufacturer Rakusen’s to install Industry 4.0 technologies into its 100-plus year old production line.
Konur told Food Manufacture he was initially skeptical, unsure of how his experience with AI could benefit a company that had been making products using traditional methods for more than a century.
“A colleague of mine was invited to discuss some potential collaboration,” he explained. “I thought that there wasn’t any real collaboration between a computer science department and a very traditional company that operates on traditional processes.
Limitations and constraints
“After the first meeting we met several more times to discuss further collaboration and interestingly after several meetings we started to think about quite interesting collaboration opportunities. In particular, when they talked about some constraints and limitations with processes and how does that affect their business.”
The first priorities were to understand the production process at the site and the rationale behind Rakusen’s’ choice to use traditional methods and machinery. From here, Konur’s team was able to identify the key issues that had been holding the business back.
“The problem was they [workers at the factory] didn’t understand or know how the process worked,” he continued. “For generations they relied upon experienced people – through trial and error they found the right combinations that their customers had been enjoying for generations.
“But if these experienced people get sick or go on holiday, this creates significant interruptions and disruption to processes. The project allows them very clear understanding of how things are going on.”
Rakusen’s was able to identify key areas within the business where new tech could be used to streamline the production process and fully understand parts of the factory previously left under-utilised.
“The project allowed them to produce products consistently without the need of experienced people, because the system we had developed had translated human expertise into machine intelligence,” added Konur. “Without experienced operators around, the system could tell them what is the required temperature needed and anyone that doesn’t understand the system could adjust and do that.”
“This is a significant transformation for the company that gave them confidence to distribute their production to different ovens so they could expand their capacity and allowed them more opportunities to export markets, especially in the US.”
Meanwhile, Fortress Technology has expanded its new range of intelligent inspection systems for food manufacturers developing IoT lines, including an extra-large (XL) version for bulk applications.