What AI-Driven Production Health Can Mean For The Food Industry

Sept. 9, 2022
We recently sat down with Augury’s Liran Akavia to talk about the complex challenges manufacturers are up against and how they can use an AI-driven approach to optimize production health.

We recently sat down with Liran Akavia, Vice President of Sales for Process Health at Augury, to talk about the complex challenges manufacturers are up against and how they can use an AI-driven approach to optimize production health. During our conversation, we talked about how food manufacturers can identify the right AI technology as well as what the most common challenges food manufacturers face when adopting AI. We also discussed how process health can help food manufacturers overcome challenges with global instability and uncertainty as well as issues such as the workforce shortage.

We end the episode talking about Augury’s recent acquisition of Seebo, and how that merger has made for an extremely powerful combined solution and one-stop shop for process health and machine health.


Food Processing: Can you give an overview of the main challenges you see food manufacturers facing today?

Liran Akavia: Food manufacturing challenges can be explained with one word: Complexity.

Food manufacturing gets more complex every day. Take a plant manager for an industrial baking company. He and his company want to produce the best quality bread possible at the lowest cost per unit in the highest throughput possible using the lowest energy possible and with the least amount of waste and emissions. Aligning between all the conflicting objectives is challenging. Add to that changing environmental conditions, external conditions and the macro economy, all of which are making food manufacturing complex.

FP: How can food manufacturers identify the right AI technology for optimizing production health?

LA: You need to have smart and experienced people, and you need to give them the right tools and the right computing power. And this is where AI comes in.

In manufacturing, we use AI that is designed for manufacturing. We use AI that understands processes and can calculate traceability as well as being able to understand buffers and pilot processes and the material cycles. Only artificial intelligence that understands the process itself will be able to drive the right results. If we zoom out for a moment, we have a very complex manufacturing situation with many variables and conflicting objectives. We need to use AI to help our team to navigate that.

FP: What are the most common challenges food manufacturers face when adopting AI?

LA: I’m sure there are some thinking, "This is interesting, but my production is different. I don't yet have the data available. I need to do a few steps before I can even think about AI."

Sometimes manufacturers don’t have the right data. Sometimes processes are done manually. Some plants have brilliant people with a lot of experience, but those teams have been doing the same thing for 20 years and are reluctant of trusting an algorithm. We hear those challenges daily. And they're all true, but those challenges don’t contradict the step of deciding to move into AI.

FP: Food manufacturers are challenged by growing global instability and uncertainty. Can process health overcome any these challenges?

LA: Yes. Process health AI leverages algorithms that can understand production processes and optimize them against the multi-dimensional objective. Earlier I mentioned that the plant manager has many different objectives that are, in many cases, conflicting each other. The plant manager has unstable external conditions and hundreds of process parameters that affect the outcome. Process health is the solution that enables the plant manager and the production team to grab all this viability and data and execute from that clear action items for the manufacturing team to run the production line in order to optimize the multidimensional objective.

Augury is a global leader in machine health solutions. Machine health enables manufacturers to reduce downtime, increase production capacity, optimise the cost of asset care and accelerate their digital transformation.

Augury’s machine health solutions combine advanced sensors with powerful artificial intelligence capabilities and collaboration tools to help teams understand when machines are at risk. The company also provides expertise so customers know what to do to prevent failures, long before those risks can threaten production or productivity. Learn more by visiting the Augury website

FP: Workforce shortage is another challenge. How can process health help?

LA: When we look at the workforce shortage, we generally need to do two things. First, we need to empower the people we have and enable the smaller teams to do more. Second, we’d like to attract talent and be the employer that people want to work for.

As for doing more with the existing workforce, process health is the solution. Instead of people dealing with understanding where the problem is, the team can deal with solving the problem. Process health is reducing the load from the current team and helping them to get better and quicker decisions; it’s enabling quicker onboarding to a new team members. When you speak about attracting talent, smart people usually like to work where technology is. If you can be an employer that’s using cutting edge technology—technology that brings the company to the forefront of the industry—you’ll get good people.

FP: Should this worry the existing workforce?

LA: If you're a team member that doesn’t like progress or if you insist on doing things the old way and you’ve decided that technology will not be deployed on your production floor, then there is a good reason to be worried. With or without process health, technology is the solution for many production challenges, and companies that will not move forward with technology will be irrelevant. If you are looking forward and would like to learn and embrace technology and build better production processes and contribute with that to your company, I think you have no reason to worry and, the opposite, you will be more and more important for your organization. You will be able to do more with your time to be more accurate and enable your organization to be more competitive, more sustainable, and align with the business objectives.

FP: Seebo, a leader in the field of process health, was acquired by Augury, a leader in machine health and industrial AI. Can you tell us a bit about your combined solution?

LA: At Seebo, we built the process health solution to enable manufacturers to extract more from processes, to meet the multi-dimensional objectives, to react to external environmental conditions and do more with the raw materials. In parallel to us, Augury built the world’s greatest machine health solution. They enable manufacturers to reduce unplanned downtime and maintenance costs, increase capacity and availability of their machines. Augury acquired Seebo to combine the two powerful solutions.

Augury is the only company in the world that is delivering production health. Production health is the combination of machine health and process health. Production health is bringing manufacturers to the optimal point of their production -- less downtime, more availability production, more capacity. And once production is working and the machines are available and in the best condition, we optimize the process to extract the most out of it.

FP: Can you explain why this is so exciting for manufacturers? Is it just about having a one-stop shop for process health and machine health, or is there something more?

LA: One-stop-shop is a big deal. You want your team members to work on a single screen rather than on many different screens. You want all the insights to be in one place. You want it to all have a simple language that all teams can use. But there is much more than that. Many of the maintenance activities affect quality, and many of the process parameters affect maintenance. For example, a piece of equipment, before it breaks down, has a period that it simply produces less good product. In the traditional maintenance methods, you would notice when the machine breaks, but today, we can understand when the machine is about to break and bring it to a good state, improving the quality of the product.

We can look at it from the other way around. I can use my process to produce high throughput and excellent product, but I will damage the machine. If I’m able to set the right process parameters, I will create more stable production and more assets. We are not only delivering a one-stop solution, we also deliver the combination of process health and machine health that creates overall production health.

FP: Why hasn't this been done before?

LA: Customers who have already adopted production health say they cannot imagine how they worked before. They can’t fathom working in separate environments—one environment dealing only with process and another environment dealing only with maintenance. The combination between the two is the heart of the production. I think it was not done before because the market needed to mature. But now, when this proposition and value is existing in the market, many companies cannot imagine a different way.

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