Supply Chain Management is a constant struggle for food and beverage (F&B) companies. Consumers want more insights about where their food is coming from, and on top of meeting consumer demands, manufacturers have two additional concerns: first, turning around inventory quickly at competitive prices while maintaining stock and supplier relations. Then, manufacturers must keep a close eye on quality, ensuring all products in the supply chain meet industry and consumer specifications. Obviously, there’s a lot to track in the data-driven supply chain. That’s where Artificial Intelligence (AI) can provide F&B companies with new supply chain insights to stay ahead of the curve.
AI is essentially programming computers so they can receive data, evaluate it, make a decision based on the evaluation, and then perform a given task based on the decision. This emerging technology helps F&B companies with Supply Chain Management through logistics, predictive analytics, and transparency. Companies from every sector of the food industry — such as perishable foods, like dairy products, and dry food products, like grains — are using AI to improve quality assurance, provide better forecasting models, and keep up with consumer trends.
Having robots milk cows isn’t new, but testing milk for quality and safety using AI is. Preventing foodborne illnesses is top of mind for all food companies and having perishable foods in transit at the right temperature, preventing contamination, is a major part of the food industry’s supply chain process.
Cornell University and IBM recently announced a partnership to use AI to identify food hazards in milk that will protect global milk supply. By looking at genetic sequencing and bioinformatics analytics, IBM and Cornell hope to identify traits and determine what should be normal and what is abnormal. IBM chose Cornell, in part, because of the university’s dairy processing plant. The Ithaca-based plant will help monitor and test throughout the entire dairy supply chain — from farm to processor to consumer.
“Through this partnership, we are extending the consortium work to a broader range of ingredients, leveraging artificial intelligence, and machine learning, to gain new insights into how microorganisms interact within a particular environment,” says Jeff Welser, VP and director of IBM Research, Almaden.