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University shortlisted for national Knowledge Transfer Partnership Awards

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AI, Big Data and the ‘Internet of Things’ enabled 120-year-old Leeds firm to transform production

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Bradford and one of the region’s oldest and most respected independent food manufacturers has been shortlisted for a national award.

The KTP Awards, re-introduced last year, celebrate the most outstanding impacts resulting from the unique collaborative partnerships between higher education institutions and businesses.

Dr Savas Konur, Reader in Computer Science and Dr Yang Lan, Research, Knowledge Transfer Development Officer in the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics were both involved in the project, which worked with Rakusens Ltd, a Leeds-based kosher food manufacturer, to transform their production lines.

The company, a traditional business with a long and cherished history, was experiencing large variations in product quality, taste and texture, which made it impossible to have a flexible planning process that allowed the company to achieve its full potential.

The KTP project, rated outstanding by Innovate UK, transformed production knowledge into a smart manufacturing process using artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, cloud computing and ‘industrial internet of things’ to produce consistent quality food products.

The University team developed an intelligent process control system to harvest live data and monitor the production processes to achieve the product consistency.  

This smart production approach transformed the company into a technology driven enterprise and allowed Rakusens to move over to the latest technology without the need to change its traditional machinery. By doing this, they preserved the manufacturing standards required of kosher tradition alongside expanding their production capacity.

Savas said: “By replacing the centralised manual decision making with an intelligent computational decentralised modular system, the platform provides a smart control facility fulfilling the factory's strategic target on the production capacity and consistency. This project has allowed a highly traditional food manufacturing company that still produces on machinery more than hundred years old has moved over to industry 4.0, which refers to the digital transformation of manufacturing/production and related industries and value creation processes.”

The KTP partnership has been shortlisted in the Finalist for the Engineering Excellence Category. The Awards, hosted by KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network), will be held ‘virtually’ on September 9. it is very likely it will be a virtual one.

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