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Clever Foodie: case study

Cooking Up Innovation: Clever Foodie’s Recipe for Smart Manufacturing Success

Clever Foodie is a one-stop platform for independent food and drinks businesses to manage and eliminate operational chaos. Owned and operated by Aeroblue Software, the team at Clever Foodie sought to further develop its innovative food and drink operations platform by integrating cutting-edge smart manufacturing technologies, by participating in Digital Catapult’s Smart Nano NI accelerator programmes. After completing the Smart Manufacturing accelerator, Aeroblue entered the Manufacturing Innovation Challenge with the aim of utilising nanotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI) to help food and beverage manufacturing businesses automate quality checks, boost operational efficiency. By participating in the programme, Aeroblue was able to design a robust and adaptable proof of concept for its platform​ and test it in a live major food manufacturing environment with industry mentor, McColgans Quality Foods Limited.

Tackling Industry-Wide Challenges

Many businesses in the food production industry still rely on manual processes and paper logs for critical tasks like temperature checks and product verification. These outdated methods lead to inefficiencies and potential errors, which can damage a food producers profitability and can even be dangerous for consumers (regarding potential food safety issues such as temperature control and ‘use by’ dates). On a more fundamental level, key metrics such as production counts and yield can be challenging to record accurately and even more difficult to gain insights from utilising traditional methods. Clever Foodie identified an opportunity to automate these processes using advanced vision systems and IoT sensors.

Implementing Smart Manufacturing Solutions

Clever Foodie Square

Collaborating with William McColgan of McColgan’s Quality Foods, they pinpointed twelve key areas where these technologies could drive significant improvements. Clever Foodie’s approach involved strategically placing IoT sensors and vision systems on the production
floor. These technologies automate data collection and quality checks, delivering real-time information to management through intuitive dashboards. This system helps quickly identify bottlenecks and potential defects, significantly enhancing overall efficiency and reducing waste.

Using vision systems, Clever Foodie automated error reporting and analytics for production counts, packaging accuracy, batch number and best-before-date validation, and product defects. They used advanced sensors to streamline quality assurance tasks such as monitoring temperature, speed, vibration, and power usage and to report on environmental factors like light, humidity and ambient temperature. AI and machine learning enabled real-time analysis and faster reaction times to potential errors and production bottlenecks. This allowed McColgan’s to identify problems and avoid producing large runs of defective products, reducing waste and increasing profitability for the business as a whole.

Future Impact and Expansion

Aeroblue Software plans to install 50 Clever Foodie smart manufacturing solutions over the next five years, aiming for a revenue target of £1.5 million. The support and knowledge gained from the Smart Nano NI programmes have been crucial in developing, building, and scaling its innovative solution to a live viable product for the food manufacturing industry.

Jason McDevitt
Aeroblue Software

“Without Digital Catapult’s programme, we would have never been able to have access to William at McColgans and his factory. Being able to test our proof of concept on a large food production factory such as McColgan has been key for us, and it’s made the programme worthwhile. The help and guidance from the Digital Catapult team has also been brilliant. We’ve benefitted from direct access to industry leading technologists but also enjoyed insights into product design thinking and even advice on go-to-market strategies. We have gone from initial concept into full development of a new product with the potential to solve some of the food production sector’s most common challenges.”

 

William McColgan
McColgans Quality Foods Limited

“For the four years that I’ve been here, I’ve been wanting to gather more data and be able to deploy advanced IoT and analytics technologies in order to improve the business. It’s been very challenging finding the right partner and with the right skill set to investigate these problems with us. Digital Catapult and the Smart Nano programme has given us access to engaged, motivated and expert resources to tackle these problems in CleverFoodie.”

Empowering Innovation with Smart Nano NI

Smart Nano NI is a consortium of companies collaborating to develop game-changing advanced prototyping and smart manufacturing methods to deliver new technologies. Digital Catapult delivers a range of accelerator programmes to support manufacturers and solution providers by providing access to advanced technologies, including photonics, IoT, 5G, and AI, as well as expert mentoring, and access to state-of-the-art testbeds. This enables companies like Aeroblue Software to develop market-ready solutions to common industry challenges.

You can find out more about the Smart Nano NI programme here.

About Aeroblue Software

Aeroblue Software’s Clever Foodie platform minimises reliance on traditional paper-based systems, enhances quality control, and boosts operational efficiency for food and beverage producers. By integrating nanotechnology with AI, Clever Foodie offers food manufacturing businesses a competitive edge and a more efficient future.

For more information, visit CleverFoodie.shop or find them on Linkedin @cleverfoodie

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