When it comes to buzzwords, few raise as many eyebrows and roll as many eyes as Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, when it comes to food and beverage manufacturing AI, the impact of such technology on industrial processes becomes harder to ignore with each passing day.

For the uninitiated, AI can be characterized by the ability of machines and computers to emulate human intelligence. That is any device that is seemingly aware of its environment and can complete actions to increase the chances of successfully achieving a goal.

An image of simulated neural networks used to convey the idea of food and beverage manufacturing ai.

While manufacturers are leveraging disruptive technologies like AI, Robotics, membrane technologies, machine vision, and automation to increase safety, output, and ROI, food and beverage manufacturers may be one of the biggest benefactors from all this technology has to offer.

Food And Beverage Manufacturing AI Benefits

When it comes to the benefits of incorporating food and beverage manufacturing AI into operations, Gartner, a noted global research and advisory firm, predicts that, “By 2020, the number of users of modern business intelligence and analytics platforms that are differentiated by augmented data discovery capabilities will grow at twice the rate — and deliver twice the business value — of those that are not.”

Contending with constant change is a crux food and beverage manufacturers know all too well. This isn’t just about the prediction above and emerging technology, either. The industry is rife with fluctuation when it comes to suppliers, regulations and compliance, tax codes, and a host of other environmental factors that manufacturers need to consider.

From data analytics and executive-level predictions to process automation and batch quality, food and beverage manufacturing AI can be applied to many facets of what keep a business running in optimal condition.

Securing Facilities And Batch Quality With Machine Vision

Recipes and processes are what give food and beverage manufacturers dependable and consistent products. Security that can keep up with today’s modern data theft tools is essential to remain protected. Facial recognition that can secure access to a production facility is just one example of how AI can further protect the intellectual property of manufactures. The same machine vision technology that can sound an alert that unrecognized intruders are on-site can capture and interpret images to identify products with defects or bottling lines that aren’t securing caps or filling vessels to the appropriate height.

An image of filling and corking wine bottles to specification, a task food and beverage manufacturing ai can make easier.

Making Sense Of Sensor Data

IoT devices are constantly feeding data to ERP software and manufacturing execution systems (MES) assisting in process improvement, predictive maintenance, and forecasting, AI can make sense of data much faster than a human can.

Identifying abnormalities before they become blockages in the production process is invaluable and AI’s ability to read and interpret data for warning signs can set your teams to work on maintaining equipment before it fails.

Output, cost, and revenue information can also be compiled by AI to offer decision makers a clear picture of how operations are faring relative to the global competition. For example, data points derived by the systems in place can flag important information for review, compile reports, direct field service crews, update schedules, and even modify recipe formulations on the fly depending on environmental factors. Imagine being able to adjust ingredient quantities in real-time based on the quality of raw ingredients.

An image of a food processing equipment separating packaged foods, a task food and beverage manufacturing ai can make easier.

Increasing Consumer Confidence with AI And ERP

In the rapidly changing environment of food and beverage manufacturing, maintaining customer confidence is critical to retaining business. AI, Robotics, and ERP all have a hand in ensuring brand consistency and customer trust. For instance, consider regulatory compliance. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a complex piece of legislation designed to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed. As a result, every food and beverage manufacturer has to know the components of the law to which they must adhere.

 

An image of a technician lab testing food samples, a task food and beverage manufacturing ai can make easier.

By utilizing intelligent software and refining processes to reduce recalls, lost sales, and legal expenses, businesses can remain more competitive and avoid the potentially fatal mistakes of falling outside of regulation with the products they produce. By enabling superior tracking and traceability alongside more concise testing and validation, advanced technologies can keep such incidents to a minimum, and ensure that when they do arise, they are addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Platinum Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Automation is hitting the food and beverage packaging industry hard, with a recent report from the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies revealing half of the companies it surveyed substantially increasing plant automation over the next three to five years. That said, those food and beverage manufacturing professionals surveyed admitted that while they knew automation had to be adopted, they didn’t know where to begin when it came to implementation of robotics, automation, or ERP software.

a photo of a robot in a food and beverage manufacturing facility where chocolate is made.

Advances in agriculture, food, and beverage processing automation and robotics technologies have been drastically changing how these industries operate.

Advances in agriculture, food, and beverage processing automation and robotics technologies have been drastically changing how these industries operate. The benefits to progress these technologies provide are too numerous and too significant to ignore. However, the trend is at odds with the very nature of these industries, which are among of the most highly controlled and restrictive in the world. This is one of the main reasons these manufacturers have only now been able to build momentum in modernizing operations.

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at EU Automation attributes the shift to the decrease in implementation costs as well as improved performance provided by more refined technologies in the sector. These manufacturers are ready to adopt new technology now that it has been proven to offset the rising costs of raw materials and the energy required in production.

Food And Beverage Manufacturing Advice From The Experts

Nigel Smith, CEO of industrial robotics specialist firm TM Robotics, has some choice advice for those in food and beverage manufacturing looking to adapt their operations alongside the rapidly changing manufacturing landscape. By incorporating the latest in robotics and advanced automation technology these enterprises can improve performance and overall value. Smith highlights a few key factors that will boost potential ROI and minimize the headaches associated with integrating new systems into existing infrastructure.

Plan With Purpose

No two systems are the same. Whether canning kombucha or creating ready-made meals on an assembly line, assessing the specific needs of a food and beverage manufacturing operation prior to implementation is essential. The right robots and associated hardware to compliment them will make or break your automation efforts. The software powering the backend is an often-overlooked element to consider, as well. Operating systems for your robotic workforce, trained human counterparts, and ERP software all come together to create a manufacturing floor working with precision, driving productivity and optimizing operations. Once the creation of goods is complete, what about distribution and order fulfillment? additional components of the sales cycle come into play long after your goods are packaged and ready to go. The right technology to compete in a modern distribution environment is essential, as well.

a photo of glass beer bottles on a bottling line in a food and beverage manufacturing brewery - encompass solutions.

Whether canning kombucha or creating ready-made meals on an assembly line, assessing the specific needs of your operation prior to implementation is essential.

 

When it comes to installation, designers and consultants need to think beyond the process, like their manufacturer, to understand the importance of consistency, compliance, and presentation. Partnering with the right system integrators and ERP consultants and managed services can make or break manufacturers’ modernization efforts.

Personalize Performance

Once you’ve completed the broad strokes of selection, you’ll need to zero-in on the supplementary components of your plan to really drive ROI.

food and beverage manufacturing in a grain sorting plant

Calibration is another key component that needs to be considered and deemed precise when handling products to ensure waste is kept to a minimum.

Let’s say you’ve got the SCARA machines to pick and place ingredients for each batch in your process, but do you know which grippers to use to ensure minimal damage of those ingredients? What about the right vision system to properly identify those ingredients or potential defects? Calibration is another key component that needs to be considered and deemed precise when handling products to ensure waste is kept to a minimum. These details are exactly why food and beverage manufacturers looking to modernize should work with experienced and reputable integrators and consultants to bring operations up to competitive pace.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


It’s been said that the only thing worse than drinking a warm beverage is watching someone else drink a cold one. This doesn’t have to be a fate you’ll taste any longer thanks to an exciting new twist in beverage packaging technology.

On-Demand Chilled Beverage Packaging Technology

The new technology Chill-Can presents improves the manufacturing ability of such options, making it a viable option for beverage manufacturers. Using liquefied CO2 as the coolant in this Heat Exchange Unit (HEU), this two-piece twist mechanism makes the simple chilling of beverages while on the go a reality. In total, it takes about 80 seconds for the activated product to cool the beverage kept inside its housing. The device can even be shaped for specific applications, be it 8oz, 12oz, 16oz, or any other style of a beverage can.

The device itself weights about 150g grams and will lower the affected beverage’s temperature around 30 degrees. Makers of the Chill-Can, The Joseph Co., currently hold 31 patents that pertain the unique technology, its manufacturing process, and the HEU coatings.

The Chill-Can currently costs consumers an additional $1.50 on top of the cost of the associated beverage, a price point the market has quickly responded to and, according to Joseph, retailers “couldn’t keep them on the shelf.”

Going Beyond Beverage Packaging Technology And Manufacturing

The Chill Can beverage packaging technology has enjoyed a resounding approval from consumers since its debut, but many look forward to applications that benefit humanity beyond quenching thirst on a hot day.

The medical field is one that stands to benefit greatly from this mobile chilling technology. Organs being transported from donors to recipients are an obvious application, but fragile medicines and lab samples that need to be kept cool while in transit are other applications that will likely benefit from this technology as it develops.

The full Packaging Digest article on the Chill-Can and an interview with, chairman/CEO of The Joseph Co. Intl and West Coast Chill, Mitchell Joseph, can be found here.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Platinum Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


With discrete and batch process manufacturers already taking full advantage of advancements in robotics and machine vision technology to improve operations, winemakers and agricultural industries are increasingly leveraging machine vision AI and robotics to improve processes in the vineyard. Coupled with modern ERP systems, these manufacturers are better equipped to weather disruption and establish their foothold in a competitive marketplace.

Manufacturing, packaging, and production are already quite familiar with automation, vision systems, and collaborative robotics. Now, the more traditionally manual and complex areas of agriculture are beginning to feel the influence of these powerful technologies.

AI, Robotics And Automation In Agriculture

For example, Researchers at the Agriculture and Biological Engineering Group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are making big pushes for robotics and automation proliferation into agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. The group has outlined their vision for the influx of robots, machine vision and AI in three levels. Initially, robots will utilize machine vision technology to survey and collect data that provide insight into a variety of environmental factors. A follow-up with more specialized robots will prepare and maintain sites, performing field operations such as weeding, picking, and pruning. Once a suitable location has been established and the land prepared for operations, third-generation robots and autonomous systems will emerge to automate the complete process from seeding to packing. The vision may still be years from coming to fruition, but examples of second-generation robots are already in the works. Take the California wine industry for example, where robots and irrigation technology are working in tandem to make more efficient use of watering practices in the drought-stricken state.

A Robot Workforce Uprooting Global Wine Industries

The vineyard might be one of the last places people imagine the latest advancements in technology are being utilized. However, the applications of machine vision, AI and robots are disrupting the winemaking industry to such an extent that the benefits of their incorporation are too great to ignore.

Take California’s wine country for example. In a state with one of the most sizable wine industries in the world, while at the same time plagued with drought, innovators have answered the call with Robot-Assisted Precision Irrigation Delivery (RAPID). RAPID uses precision monitoring technology to deliver water through specialized emitters attached to irrigation lines laid throughout a vineyard.

The project was funded with a $1 million grant from the Department of Agriculture and headed by UC Merced professor Stefano Carpin. The unmanned ground vehicle, equipped with GPS can map routes throughout vineyards.  Relying on drone and satellite images, the vehicle will have a continuous view of weather conditions in real-time. Additionally, the robot will utilize a “grasping hand” to turn the water emitters in such a way that increases or decreases the flow of water. This system improves on current irrigation setup considerably, since the irrigation watering systems currently in use deliver a constant flow of water across the entire system. With the more efficient use of water in the drought-stricken region, RAPID can improve vineyard yield, reduce waste, and even customize the watering process dependent on a vineyard’s variety of grape. Carpin hopes to have a fully functional test system available by 2020.

Pruning With Precision Machine Vision Systems

Wall-Ye V.I.N is France’s answer to one of the most labor-intensive components of running a vineyard, vine maintenance. Pruning, de-suckering, and clipping fruitless shoots, to be more precise. Understanding which vines need to be pruned and to what extent is considered a sacred charge in many winemaking circles. Nevertheless, tremendous advancements are being made to automate these laborious and time-consuming tasks. The creation of Burgundy-based inventor Christophe Millot, Wall-Ye V.I.N. has even the most scrupulous winemakers nodding in approval as the economic value the robot presents is undeniable. Take for instance the human component of pruning. It takes somewhere near three years to fully train a pruner to man the vines, whereas Wall-Ye V.I.N. promises to be ready to prune in a fraction of the time. Still, the robot will not be capable of taking on all the associated tasks its human counterparts are responsible and instead take on a collaborative role within the industry.

Meanwhile, across the globe, California-based Vision Robotics is hard at work creating a system considerably larger than Wall-Ye V.I.N. to tackle pruning tasks. Canterbury University’s Australia campus is developing a similar pruning robot as well. All three projects have a common imaging system that feeds into an AI that is focused on 3D modeling to determine which vines make the cut.

Robotics Helping Harvest

Once the cluster-heavy vines are ready for harvest, machine vision, AI and robotics come into play in a big way. Identifying which grapes are going to produce the best wine is an arduous task made easy with the incorporation of modern technology. Take for instance the robots in place at the Hall Vineyards in Napa Valley, California. Once grape clusters have been harvested, the robots on location are fed the clusters to identify which make the cut and which do not. Taking more than 10,000 photos a second, the robot is capable of conducting an analysis of each photograph virtually instantly.

The operator inputs what parameters the robot uses to identify what is acceptable and what is not. All acceptable specimens proceed to a “good fruit” bin at the end of a conveyor, while the rejected fruit is blasted off the line with a precision burst of air. This is just one way that robots improve the efficiency of vineyard operations and enable winemakers to create even more satisfying beverages.

Another example emerges in the EU project, VineRobot, that uses color cameras, Infrared thermography, and GPS techniques to obtain agronomical and physiological data from the vineyard in real-time. By combining all the necessary data to reach a conclusion, VineRobot is able to alert operators and other staff of nutrient deficiencies in plants and ready for harvest fruits based on pigmentation. Throughout the process, Vine Robot is actually creating a complete representation of the vineyard’s crop-quality as a result of the data gleaned from its sophisticated vision sensors and systems.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


With the many concepts of Industry 5.0 already lending fantastic possibilities to manufacturing industries across the board, the disruption potential of its components in the world of beverage manufacturing is nothing short of groundbreaking. Beer, Wine, and Spirits are some of the most complex and subjective tastes being explored among discerning palates the world over. Here’s how AI and mass personalization are bringing a personal touch to these industries.

A Mass Personalization App For Your Tastebuds: Gastrograph

The beverage aisles of convenience stores, groceries, and big-box stores offer the illusion of diversity, with dozens, if not hundreds, of drinks available for purchase. However, these beverages have undergone massive amounts of testing and QA to market them to the widest audience possible. The overarching “cast the widest net” philosophy of food and beverage manufacturers has left a sour taste in the mouths of many consumers. CEO of NYC-based Analytic Flavor Systems, Jason Cohen, offered as much in an interview with The New Food Economy, “My take is that pretty much all the food and beverage products on the market today are awful,” he explains. “There are literally no products engineered for me.” And Cohen is right. Manufacturers have formulated snacks and drinks for decades with the right amount of salt, sugar, and fat to hit the proverbial “sweet spot” for consumers. What Cohen’s start-up aims to do is enable consumers to find the foods that fit their ideal flavor profile. How does he plan to do so? Artificial Intelligence and mass personalization.

It doesn’t stop at taste, either. Moisture level, texture, gaminess, and a host of other characteristics fall under designations in the Analytic Flavor Systems Gastrograph app, a categorization spectrum that takes into account 24 different touchpoints with varying levels of intensity. Submenus under each characteristic allow for even further analysis. A sample Flavor Analysis of Dogfish Head’s 120-minute IPA was mapped in The New Food Economy’s article highlighting the app and larger topic of AI and mass personalization in beverage manufacturing.

AI and Mass Personalization helps Beverage Manufacturing

A flavor analysis of a craft beer, Dogfish Head’s 120-minute IPA, mapped using the Gastrograph app.

The personalized flavor profiling concept emerged during Cohen’s studies in Information Sciences and Technology. Cohen didn’t finish his graduate degree, but instead opted to pursue his project with Analytic Flavor Systems and Gastrograph App. Now touted as the first artificial intelligence platform to understand human sensory perception. Some of the biggest names in beverage are leveraging Cohen’s services. While it remains to be seen how strongly one can lean on the findings of the Gastrograph AI, the happening could be signal a new era of consumer profiling practices where food and beverage makers will make this sensory profiling a compulsory part of research when developing new products.

Craft Beverage Makers Make Impact Among US Manufacturers

Among the 10 fastest growing industries in the US is the beverage manufacturing industry ranks third, which only highlights the importance of innovation in the fields of gastronomy and manufacturing. Beverage manufacturing ranks just below Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction and highest-ranking Support Activities for Mining. The three experienced 44.9%, 17.1% and 17.1% growth in sales, from first to third ranking. This designation for beverages included everything from breweries to water and soft drinks. Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman offered comment following the recently released report that, “If you think about the rise in microbreweries and taprooms, it may not be that surprising to see these manufacturers nearing the top of the list.” The report itself relies on cooperative data gleaned from financial statements from private companies, like accounting firms, banks, and credit unions.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Traditional honey-wine, more commonly known as mead, is fast becoming a popular drink of choice among many New Yorkers. The ancient beverage has a growing following as well as a small but dedicated contingent of manufacturers in the north-eastern state. Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently proposed an allowance for mead producers to take advantage of an NY state farm beverage license. The provision allows these beverage manufacturers to enjoy the same benefits afforded to wineries, breweries, and distilleries, which have experienced a significant economic boom because of their commitment to using New York-sourced ingredients.

A picture of several carboys filled with mead.

Traditional honey-wine, more commonly known as mead, is fast becoming a popular drink of choice among many New Yorkers.

As a result of the new farm beverage license, Mead producers will be allowed to erect restaurants and gift shops, provide tastings, by-the-glass sales onsite, and other retail endeavors. Craft alcohol has enjoyed a significant surge in economic prosperity following legislation passed this year that provided significant cuts for the nation’s small-scale alcoholic beverage manufacturers. The tax breaks will remain in effect over the next two years and provide up-and-coming breweries, wineries, and distilleries with some much-needed cash flow to support their operations. New York alone has a reported 435 wineries, 400 breweries, 150 distilleries, and 65 hard cider makers. Currently, there are about 12 mead-makers in the state that commands a top-5 spot in each beverage category. NY ranks first in the nation among hard cider makers. The escalation in manufacturing operations is directly attributed to the farm licenses provided by the state. These certifications emerged in 1976 with the farm winery license, with the farm distillery license and farm brewery license emerging in 2007 and 2012, respectively.

The farm meadery license will, as the name suggests, apply to standalone makers of the honey-based beverage that ranges between 10 and 12 percent abv. Like wine, the process of mead-making involves the incorporation of produce, such as fruits, herbs, flowers, and spices to enhance flavors. A similar brew, known as braggot, could fall under the same category, though its recipe’s inclusion of honey and barley malt brings it closer to a beer-style beverage with a 5 to 6 percent alcohol content. Meaderies would also gain the benefit of open sale in wine stores, liquor stores, and grocery stores.

Farm Beverage License And NY Mead Manufacturers

Honey. As the North East’s top producer of the sweet and sticky substance, NY is positioned to be a significant hub for mead-making activity. Beyond honey production, NY is among the top three states in the US producing apples and grapes.

A closeup of honeycomb uesd in mead, which enjoys several benefits under the NY farm beverage license.

Honey Is The Essential Ingredient When It Comes To Fermenting Mead And Enjoys Many Benefits Under The New NY Farm Beverage License.

As it stands, the new license would only apply to mead manufacturers producing less than 250,000 gallons per year and come at a cost of $75 per year. To put that number into perspective, a commercial wine license is priced at $3,025 per year. The benefits are significant and many hope the incentives will motivate mead manufacturers to ramp up production and new meaderies to put down roots in the state.

With costs low and the landscape ripe for expansion beverage manufactures, New York is a prime location to set up shop or branch out for existing operations. The state’s economic impact from breweries alone totaled more than $3.5bn in 2017. Grants exist for commercial beverage makers as well, with $250,000 allotted to each segment for use in advertising and targeted marketing campaigns. New York State has compiled significant resources for these manufacturers, including tax-based incentives, operational support, growth support, and innovation development support funds.

How ERP Benefits Beverage Manufacturers

As business scales for many of the state’s beverage manufacturers, effective platforms to keep operations running smoothly are essential. Platforms that address quality control, recipe-based formulation, distribution, human capital management, finance, and analytics among a host of other tasks associated with running a small to medium-sized beverage manufacturing operation. Many ERP platforms have adapted to create complete solutions built specifically for wineries, breweries, and distilleries. Saving time and money, ERP software allows manufacturers to focus far more on the front end than on the repetitive and mundane tasks associated with the back office.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.