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Why AI should be on food/ag’s priority list

December 17, 2018 - Submitted by Humera Malik to Smart Industry

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently reported that nearly 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted or lost each year—the equivalent of nearly one third of all food produced. In an era where the world demand for food continues to increase, the need to stem the losses and increase yield and productivity is paramount.

The application of AI and automation is mission-critical to meeting this growing global demand, while drastically improving yield and quality across the entire food & ag value chains.  

Food & ag meets AI

In food & ag, production reliability has traditionally been more of an art form than a science. Decisions were made based on operator expertise—the lack of real-time visibility into the production process left plants consuming more raw ingredients and energy than was needed, while producing inconsistent batches. However, over the past two years, thousands of production-line sensors have begun to create millions of data points on throughput, efficiency and quality. This is a good thing.

With AI, operators now have the data, processing power and speed to predict and detect costly errors across highly complex and dynamic production processes. AI makes it possible for operators to determine the optimal amount of raw materials, energy and cycle time required to produce higher grades of product, increase yield, and, most importantly, reduce waste.

For example, where a single variable change can impact the quality, cycle time, yield and product shelf life, AI gives operators the ability to identify outlier trends when parameters fall out of spec. These operators can make adjustments when anomalies are detected—not after the process has finished. Artificial intelligence is forever changing how decisions are being made in food & ag production.

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