Aussie wine firms turn to AI to streamline manufacturing
The Australian wine industry is turning to artificial intelligence to streamline its manufacturing and significantly increase production efficiency by optimising machine use.
South Australian tech firm Ailytic has been using an AI technique called “prescriptive analytics” to account for all the variables that go into mass-producing wines, such as grape variety, packaging and finished product inventory.
The program then creates the best possible operation schedule, allowing companies to save considerable time and money.
Ailytic’s list of clients includes world-renowned wine companies such as Pernod Ricard, Accolade Wines and Treasury Wine Estates, as well as South Australia’s Angove Family Winemakers.
Pernod Ricard global business solutions manager Pauline Paterson said AI has been highly beneficial for the wine industry and helped to increase the bottom line.
“We use it mainly around production line and use it to derive the most efficient way to produce our product,” she said.
“It is definitely helpful with changeover, how many bottles we need, how much wine and what order to do everything in.”
Ailytic’s system is able to obtain essential information from wineries using remote sensors, which are placed on equipment and around winemaking facilities.
These sensors track a number of key metrics including throughput, machine uptime and changeover time from red to white when bottling.
This includes the sub-classification of each colour, such as sweet red, dry red, aromatic white and fortified wines.
Ailytic’s program ensures that wine is changed quickly, without contamination, bottled using appropriate glassware, labelled and then packaged appropriately.
The sensors then transmit the data to a computer in real time using Wi-Fi.
A single production run for bottling can take anywhere between one hour and two days, but Ailytic’s system reduces time spent changing the line setup by up to 30%.
Pernod Ricard is the world’s second leading wine and spirits company, with a network of growers across six countries and EUR8.7bn (US$10.1bn) in sales in 2015.
Its brands include Jacobs Creek, Campo Viejo, Brancott Estate, Kenwood Vineyards and Wyndham Estate.
Ailytic co-founder and chief executive James Balzary said the company’s AI program was perfect for the wine industry because it thrived in complex environments.
“Our algorithms work well for things like packaging, bottling and general manufacturing—the wine industry is where we are seeing a lot of appetite and the most uptake,” he said.
“People think of wine as a romantic artisan type of process, and it is, when you are producing small batches or super-premium wine, but the majority of wines we drink are mass manufactured in big complex tank operations. That’s where we come in: the more complex the business, the bigger the benefit.”
Ailytic’s involvement in wine manufacturing has seen it nominated at the 2017 Wine Industry IMPACT Awards in Adelaide.
Its other clients are also based out of South Australia and include Australia’s lone sink manufacturer, Tasman Sinkware.
However, it does plan to expand its clientele and has already garnered international interest in their product.
“Even though the bigger wineries would find this more useful, even smaller operations will benefit from this,” Balzary said.
“It’s an affordable solution that used to only be accessible to bigger companies but we try to focus on bringing advanced capabilities to tier-2 and tier-3 manufacturers and service providers.”