Artificial Intelligence, F&B Quality, Safety and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic initiated a drastic change in consumer confidence and purchasing habits while redefining the approach to how select businesses approach their supply and demand for goods & services. The food and beverage, manufacturing and industrial processing industries continue to experience, respond to and rebound from these unexpected changes all while navigating a yet to be defined new normal. Now, more than ever, consumers are heavily invested in food safety as well as supply chain traceability.

The pandemic has exposed weaknesses across the value chain and many players in F&B that were not looking to invest in technology are now facing the reality that digitizing their operations is the only way to remain competitive in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

How COVID-19 affected buiness and operations... 
45% Demand increase 
40% Supply chain shortage 
37% Demand decrease 
33% Negative impact, but managing 
16% Has had little impact 
13% Having issues meeting higher demand 
10% Cashflow is a problem 
7% Business as usual 
•5th state of 2020

In a survey of food and beverage industry leaders conducted by PLEX systems, we can see that COVID-19 had a significant, and largely negative, impact on demand and the supply chain. These volatile changes in supply and demand were likely the worst at beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, where uncertainty regarding lockdowns and safety were at their peak. Without the proper technology deployed and the reliance on traditional operating methods having to be redefined, these volatile swings are extremely difficult to rebound from and in effect cause ripples in the supply chain for extended periods of time.

Investing in technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, and more specifically Maestro, to address and stabilize this volatility is pivotal in the future for F&B manufacturers. The PLEX survey also showed that 10% of respondents had a cash flow problem as a result of COVID-19, which is a result of being unable to respond quickly to the unpredictable swings in demand and supply chain shortages. With Artificial Intelligence, corporations are able to be agile and nimble, responding quickly to changes in variable inputs and outputs to optimize operations and remain competitive. It’s clear that the F&B industry understands the necessity of investing in technology for the future.

Most food and beverage manufacturers say they 
still plan to invest in enabling technologies. 
Still planning to 
invest. 
Did not plan to invest, 
but are now. 
No longer planning 
to invest. 
•qt. An Stat. of of 7020

The PLEX systems survey also shows that 75% of respondents are going to invest in digital technologies as a response to changes driven by COVID-19. The top areas of investment for F&B manufacturers have shifted focused towards e-commerce as the drive for online purchasing has increased as well as supply chain upgrades, due to an increased importance on food safety. Supply chain upgrades, in particular, have been the key to their survival during this time when keeping up with extremely high food safety standards as well as trying to remain profitable has been critical.

Food safety has been a hot button issue, with many corporations like Perdue and other meat processors falling short to meet proper safety for employees, negatively impacting their production. Artificial Intelligence can address many of the safety issues for employees working within the factories as well as the quality of the actual products being produced. An example of this occurred within a poultry processing plant in Georgia, when a liquid nitrogen tank leaked and resulted in the death of six people in the plant. Investigators are having difficulties identifying which part of the operational process lead to the leak, something an end-to-end Artificial Intelligence Platform, such as Maestro, would address by taking into account the entire estate and being able to predict and prevent this events such as this from occurring.

Many F&B manufacturers and processors have been overwhelmed in their response to correct their course as a result of COVID-19. There has never been a more critical time for Artificial Intelligence to address this overwhelming condition as that is the true nature of what AI is capable of. The objective of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to continuously ensure optimized outcomes with certainty, when so many dynamic variables impact operations that point-in-time analysis is irrelevant and the required speed, scale and depth of analysis is beyond human and standard algorithmic capabilities. This is the world we are living in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maestro AI is proven to deliver transformational benefit for the F&B manufacturing industry allowing clients to realize significant savings, while achieving safety and quality standards with unmatched speed to value. To learn more about Maestro AI and Elutions, contact us.

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AI & COVID-19: Stabilize & Survive

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, why are corporations accelerating rather than delaying their digital transformation initiatives? The pandemic’s unprecedented impact on demand, workforce, supply chain, short-term costs and liquidity has forced corporations to take immediate, strategic action to maintain operations. In exploring their means of stabilization and survival, corporations found that Artificial Intelligence is uniquely positioned to ensure business continuity in the short-term, with its proven value in improving employee safety & security, short-term costs and liquidity.

While no industry has proven immune to the pandemic, the depth and breadth of its disruption in the manufacturing vertical clearly demonstrates why corporations have adopted transformational technologies over traditional solutions to beat COVID-19. Manufacturers have felt the acute pressure of COVID-19 in their plants and across their value chains.

  • Demand: Sharp declines in demand across non-essential product segments have disrupted each step of the value chain, driving significant earnings adjustments; essential goods producers are struggling to continue operations with heightened risk, and to satiate demand with unprecedented operating and supply chain limitations.
  • Supply Chain: Despite the geographic diversity of supplier networks, sudden overseas supplier shutdowns and domestic fulfillment delays have disrupted if not halted downstream activity, depleting on-hand inventory, prompting a rapid search for market alternatives, and driving material and part shortages, price increases, and an expected spike in upstream transportation costs as restrictions lift.
  • Workforce: Rapid adoption of new distancing protocols, shift structures and offsite resourcing arrangements have ensured employee safety & security, but constrained operating efficiency, quality, throughput and yield; deferred critical asset maintenance and replacement have increased downtime risk and may increase mid-term CAPEX obligations.
  • Short-Term Costs: Essential and non-essential product manufacturers have made significant adjustments to minimize variable costs, maintain business operations, and operate in an environment of significant macroeconomic and trade policy uncertainty, including layoffs, furloughs and temporary plant closures.
  • Liquidity: With strong macroeconomic headwinds, demand and supply side disruption, and constrained operational agility, liquidity is a principal concern of manufacturers that will not be alleviated at the moment restrictions are lifted, but gradually as the supply chain and broader economy rebound.

How is Artificial Intelligence empowering corporations with substantial value chain disruption to act fast and weather the storm?

Elutions’ highly-automated and autonomous Artificial Intelligence solution, Maestro, leverages historical data, deploys rapidly and delivers immediate improvements in safety & security, short-term costs and liquidity. The following Artificial Intelligence use cases are paramount to ensuring business continuity in manufacturing.

  • Remote Operability, Operational Automation & BEP Adherence: By enabling remote asset and process control, visualization and planning, and automated system-driven asset and process optimization, corporations ensure operational continuity, resilience and efficiency, improving employee safety & security, reducing labor requirements and operating costs, and increasing cash-on-hand.
  • In-Line Quality Assurance & Scrap Reduction: By enabling automated quality prediction and dynamic operating parameter adjustment at each stage of production, manufacturers autonomously ensure end-product quality, minimize scrap and rework, and optimize the Unit Cost of Production as conditions change, improving operating margins, yield (revenue), and liquidity through minimized waste.
  • Dynamic Downtime Prevention & Predictive Preventative Maintenance: By enabling dynamic, system-driven alternate control sequencing in the event of a sensor, asset or process failure, corporations autonomously avoid unplanned downtime, associated repair and replacement costs, and foregone revenue. With system-driven Predictive Preventative Maintenance and automated Work Order creation, corporations minimize downtime and production risk, extend asset use life, generate significant savings through right-time, right-size maintenance, and improve safety & security through truck-roll consolidation.
  • Market, Demand & Capacity Driven Procurement & Inventory Management: By continuously predicting raw material costs, sales and capacity alongside the live environment, and enabling automated procurement and IM directives, corporations optimize operating productivity, inventory levels, and the margin value of Inventory on-hand. Similarly, by continuously predicting replacement part costs, process demand alongside forecasted utilization, and automating replacement part purchasing, corporations optimize part inventory levels, reduce short-term costs and improve liquidity.

Beyond short-term survival, corporations have placed their bets on Artificial Intelligence to thrive in the mid-to-long-term. Stay tuned for more market intelligence on how AI is helping corporations build resilience and optimize operations.


Up Next for NCW: Digitization and Chemical Manufacturing


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