Equipment/Technology

How Frito-Lay applies machine learning

Artificial intelligence—and its machine learning applications in particular—have been attracting the attention of industrial companies both large and small. However, if you’ve been following any of the news around machine learning, you’ve likely heard that, as advanced as this technology has become, it’s still quite a ways from being “ready for prime time” in industry. And while this is true, it doesn’t mean the technology is not ready for application in meaningful ways.

Shahmeer Mirza, senior research and development engineer at PepsiCo., is proving that machine learning has plenty of real world usefulness today through his work with the concept at Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

While speaking with Mirza recently, he explained that PepsiCo has been applying adaptive process control with statistical process control to its traditional manufacturing control processes since the late 1990s. While these projects could be considered artificial intelligence (AI), at least to some degree, the company had not been using algorithmic machine learning to a large extent in these projects.

“One of my first projects at the company involved building systems that could sense the texture of chips without destroying them,” said Mirza. For this project, he was capturing acoustic data and manually processing it.

“It’s a system that hits the chip with lasers, listens to the sound coming off them, and then uses that data to correlate the sound into texture,” Mirza said. This system could provide an automated quality check for the company’s chip processing systems.

From this experience, Mirza then began developing a machine learning model for use with a vision system to calculate the weight of potatoes being processed.

At one Frito-Lay site, the company employed a vision system to gather data on the size and number of potatoes being processed. The site also used weighing elements on conveyors to weigh all the potatoes used in a production run.

Read the full article on Automation World. By David Greenfield , Director of Content/Editor-in-Chief