Artificial intelligence project hits the headlines

News about our Innovate UK-backed intelligent dough mixing project with Campden BRI has spread far and wide.

The project, which aims to find out whether artificial intelligence (AI) can improve bread dough mixing to reduce bakery waste, has been featured in British Baker, Bakery Business and World Baker. I was even interviewed by The Sunday Telegraph and talkRADIO.

You can follow the links to the various news stories above. The gist of the issue is that getting dough mixes right can be difficult to achieve. Even slightly differing flour qualities have a big effect on the end product.

Because of this, big plant bakers (who still make 80% of the bread sold in the UK), chuck away considerable amounts of dough before it is ever baked. Our project aims to minimise this, so it could save them significant amounts of time, money and materials.

For the project, we’ve teamed up with Campden BRI, which is the UK’s most prominent food industry research association, and have secured a £68,000 grant from the government’s Innovate UK fund. Campden BRI will carry out dough mixing and baking experiments to generate data for the prototype AI software.

At our end, we will combine objective scientific instrument data with subjective data from human experts, pulling and transforming all this disparate information through data pipelines into a cloud-based data factory. This data store will form the foundation for predictive models which will seek patterns in the data in order to make recommendations on mixer settings.

Much of the media coverage about the project quotes Gary Tucker, manager of Campden BRI’s Baking and Cereal Processing Department, (pictured above with myself at the recent BSB Spring Conference), who suggests that, extrapolating from WRAP figures, industrial bakeries in Britain waste up to £205m per year.

Gary says: “If successful, the technology that results from our intelligent dough mixer project could significantly reduce this figure, maybe by 50% depending on market penetration. It may prove that higher levels of automation will reduce waste levels.”

We’ll keep you updated on our progress. You can read our full official announcement about the project over on the RedBlack Software website here.

Jane Tyler is the managing director of Cybake creator RedBlack Software, vice-chair of the British Society of Baking and a regular speaker at food and technology industry events in the UK. You can follow her on Twitter at @Jane_RedBlack and on LinkedIn here.

About Jane Tyler

Jane Tyler founded RedBlack Software in 1998 and is the chief architect of Cybake, Britain’s leading bakery management software suite.