Intelligent solutions inspire leading food producers
General Mills and UVESA in Spain are now in discussion with digital technology providers after two fruitful S3FOOD events
Technology providers jumped at the chance to solve the digital challenges of General Mills and UVESA in Spain. During two virtual events hosted by S3FOOD partner AIN, the tech companies showcased artificial vision, deep learning, robotics, predictive analysis and data management tools – to name a few of the cutting-edge digital technologies.
General Mills and UVESA operate some of Spain’s largest food processing plants, producing foods under the Tex-Mex brand Old El Paso and a range of poultry products, respectively. Both were impressed by the display of opportunities to improve efficiency, quality and food safety.
“We were surprised at how many companies could offer solutions. One also presented a solution to a listeria risk we hadn’t even thought about,” says Carlos Martinez, control and information systems engineer at General Mills.
Operations director at UVESA Pedro Sieso agrees, “Our industry needs to communicate confidence, commitment to society and how it is making a difference. So, it was very inspiring to meet companies that are ready to respond to the daily challenges of the fresh food business – both present and future.”
The next level of automation
According to Eduardo Glaria, the level of automation is already advanced at the General Mills site where he is plant technical manager. Capabilities include equipment for detecting metal and other foreign bodies that present a food safety risk. However, there are certain contaminants that can be hard to track down. This is one of the areas where he expects digital technology will make a difference – along with providing a better overview of production in general.
“Artificial intelligence will be very important to us in the future, providing more information about our processes and improving the traceability and quality of our products. We have almost a thousand people working at the plant. So we need a flow of recommendations that they can implement.”
In the fast-paced daily life of the production plant, it can be hard to find time for continuous improvement. For Carlos and Eduardo, it was a pleasant surprise that the digital technology providers focused on practical solutions at the S3FOOD event.
“We were also surprised how many of them offered artificial intelligence. This confirmed for us that we had been looking in the right direction,” Carlos says.
Choosing the right technology
At Uvesa, Pedro admits that he was in doubt about the right choice of technology to solve the plant’s upcoming challenges.
“I have to say that our expectations were met. From the presentations at the event, it was clear that our needs had been understood. Now we have a clear and precise picture of the solutions available. We are currently in the process of exploring the proposals and analysing the best fit for our projects.”
Both companies are in discussion with a number of the technology providers that took part in the two S3FOOD events.
See the recordings, presentations and videos from the events here.