Computers and artificial intelligence are expediting productivity in industries of all types including the agri-food and ingredients industry. Dr. Rick Green, President, Intellectual Capital Generation at KeyLeaf, recently answered a few questions about the company’s ongoing A.I. project called “Big-Data”:
What is KeyLeaf’s “Big-Data” Project?
Essentially, it’s a self-directed program that records and compiles key data from all the information that KeyLeaf scientists, engineers, and operators have gathered over the company’s more than 40 years of R&D work and ingredient processing. Using this data, the A.I. program can predict which raw materials and processing methods are needed to achieve optimal health or functional benefit from any ingredient in the database.
When did the project begin?
It was around late 2016 when we started thinking about it and realized we could use a computerized program for predictive ingredient development, which entailed finding the raw material that was high in a specific protein or carbohydrate and that brought with it a unique health and wellness benefit. Around this time, we also began asking ourselves, “How do we preserve all the knowledge and expertise of the engineers and operators` who have so much ingredient processing experience? How do you transfer that knowledge to a new employee? With artificial intelligence, we realized, we could capture and harness that accumulated knowledge and centralize the data to share it with others.
How far along is the data collection?
We’ve got the program set up and we have a large plant protein database that we’ve been developing over the years containing a huge amount of data including each plant’s genetic make-up.
What other data goes into the database?
Once the raw bio-materials data are entered, the next phase is processing: what you do with one or more of those raw materials? The algorithm starts learning the processing sequence and settings, and it gives you the process parameters at which to run your centrifuges and your driers, and other processing equipment. It’s process information. What’s happening now is called “machine learning”. With information constantly being added over time, the program will learn about the best methods of processing for not only proteins, but for each different raw material and resulting ingredient. Like a brain, the program learns from the data to get better at its own job.
A.I. and machine learning have been around for a while. What makes KeyLeaf’s Big-Data program unique?
We’re extremely cutting-edge with our program as we’re not just talking about computerizing production of one ingredient or one ingredient area. KeyLeaf is using this as a platform for many ingredients and ingredient processes: and not just for food and beverages, but for nutraceuticals and maybe even pharmaceuticals.
How would you describe to clients how this system helps them?
It greatly reduces product development time and resource requirements and offers tremendous value add to our clients and ultimately the consumer in terms of health benefits.
Do you foresee a time when every food, beverage, nutraceutical ingredient is described and recorded in a database?
I believe this is the future: everything will be computer-aided and there will be databases that will be commercialized, just like buying a textbook or trade journal. You’ll get different data from different sources, and then you’ll have your own database, so you customize it, and that’s where you develop your unique intellectual property and competitive marketing advantage.
Again, I think KeyLeaf’s innovative and novel competitive advantage is that we already have a huge amount of data available, so we don’t have to build the database. And it’s not data on one product; it’s data on 30 products all going through the same processing equipment. So that gives us a very robust system. The single factor that sets us apart from other manufactures is our rich 40-year history of working with so many different types of ingredients over the years.
KeyLeaf continues to develop this cutting-edge technology and others like it so that their partners and clients can master their research and development when it comes to breakthrough ingredients.