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October 10, 2019 Jeremy Boren

AI Flavors for Frito-Lay, Paper Industry Goes Digital, OT Cybersecurity

AI and Chefs Work Together to Design Tantalizing New Flavor Combos

Food and beverage companies like Pepsi subsidiary Frito-Lay are turning to artificial intelligence systems that can spot trends and consider new, unusual flavor combinations, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Some of the winning combos include sea salt and balsamic vinegar, coconut curry and honey soy chicken for the company’s Australian chip brand Red Rock Deli.

The discoveries also include “healthier chips made from unconventional snack ingredients such as peas.”

But AI is only part of the equation. Human chefs must make sure the flavor combos work in the real world and, most importantly, taste good.

“The biggest challenge is being able to reconcile what AI would tell us versus human intuition that has historically run our business.”

Michael Lindsey, chief transformation and strategy officer for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay and Quaker businesses in North America

Just as interesting is the reason that Frito-Lay, and other companies like Conagra Brands, which makes Hunt’s Ketchup and Slim Jim, are turning to AI solutions: competition. WSJ points out that food and beverage is a very crowded market place. Survival depends on reacting quickly, or even anticipating, changes in consumer preferences.

Traditional research just takes too long.

“The companies have long relied on research-and-development practices that took years to yield new products—but now consumer tastes are changing faster than ever, as people seek new flavors and find a widening array of specialty foods online. Brands can doom themselves by not adjusting quickly to new trends or changing preferences, such as a desire for low sugar or natural colors,” according to WSJ.

Digital Transformation Holds Promise for Pulp and Paper Industry

Many pulp and paper companies are seeking ways to reduce costs through better operational performance to deal with economic pressures facing the industry.

At the upcoming PEERS Conference Oct. 27-30 in St. Louis — PEERS stands for Pulping, Engineering, Environmental, Recycling and Sustainability — many of the workshops focus on optimization, controlling costs and finding the best pricing.

Asset Performance Management is one way pulp and paper companies can increase the reliability of their assets, reduce costs and improve production, according to Ken Latino of GrayMatter, a leading APM consultant.

Gartner defines APM as a solution that “encompasses the capabilities of data capture, integration, visualization and analytics tied together for the explicit purpose of improving the reliability and availability of physical assets.”

In a recent webinar “Staying Competitive in Pulp and Paper with Predictive Analytics,” Latino said pulp and paper companies are constantly being asked to do more with less, reduce energy usage and increase equipment uptime to contend with margins so thin, that many mills don’t turn a profit until the final two days of production in a month.

Losing a day to a downtime event can mean the different between a profitable month and an unprofitable one.

A series of acquisitions and consolidations in the industry has also meant that mills lack consistent maintenance and reliability standards, and they lack domain expertise because of retirements.

“APM and tools like this allow us to gather that domain knowledge and put it into software so it’s retained as we start to lose our experts,” Latino said.

According to “Changing the Future of Paper Packaging” by LNS Research, “Technologies like Mobility, Cloud, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Big Data & Analytics have driven the demand for paper down, but they have provided the tools the industry needs to transform itself into a more customer focused and responsive model. The growth of online commerce, mass customization and the development of new materials and production methods like 3D printing (additive manufacturing) all are creating tremendous opportunities in the packaging side of the industry.”

Latino will join GE Digital and others at PEERS 2019. Stop by GE Digital’s display to talk with Ken about APM and the future of pulp and paper.

GrayMatter Releases Updated OT Cybersecurity Guide

Back by popular demand, GrayMatter this week released an update to our operational technology cybersecurity guide.

You can find it here.

Our theme is simple: Many companies have spent enormous resources securing the “front door” of their networks — the IT infrastructure that runs your website, customer service portal, product sales and other software-heavy assets.

What many companies overlook is the back door.

Those are the mechanical systems that hum along in the background machining complex parts, forging metal, cooling or heating the air or even controlling the lights.

Some of them are probably connected to the network. Do you know if they’re secure? Could they be a route a cybercriminal could exploit to access sensitive data or introduce malware that could lead to a ransomware incursion?

Check out our guide and take the security assessment at the end to determine where your OT cybersecurity plan stands.

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Jeremy Boren

Jeremy is GrayMatter's Brand Manager and the author of TechHub and the emPOWERUP Podcast. He writes about digital solutions, trends and culture in the world of operational technology. Jeremy's background is in daily journalism. He has a passion for storytelling and enjoys highlighting the technologies and professionals taking on complex challenges in manufacturing, energy, cybersecurity and infrastructure.