Skip to content

News stories

Big data is revolutionising the food and drink sector across Yorkshire

Big data and other technological advances are revolutionising the way in which food and drink companies are going for growth across Yorkshire.

Production manager Angela Robson with technical manager, Kate Chapman at HECK ! Food Ltd

According to Yorkshire manufacturers Rakusen’s and HECK ! Food, the fast development of technology has enabled the companies to generate large amounts of data that is helping give insights on the performance of their production processes.

A project led by Rakusen’s in association with Bradford University to recognise the benefit of using big data in the company’s production environment was initially set up three years ago.

Andrew Simpson, Managing Director of Yorkshire food manufacturer Rakusen’s, said: “As part of our big data project, we have been looking at our production environment and where and what data could we collect. We set about measuring it via sensors across all aspects of the production environment.

Andrew Simpson of Rakusen’s

“For example, we looked at the performance of our ovens and the ambient temperature/moisture of the production area. We then created a dashboard to manage this data to ensure better product quality whilst reducing our energy usage in the process.”

The project was not without its challenges as Andrew and the team looked into the costs of big data versus the benefit to the business.

Andrew added: “We had to invest in upgrades to our hardware and software in order to capture the data, but we also had to invest in people’s time. It was important to help those across our business understand the value of the data we were collecting in order to make informed decisions.

“We now have a better understanding of our production environment and have made a number of improvements along the way. We are still making progress and looking at new areas which might lend themselves to using big data too.”

Another company driving innovation in big data and technology is HECK ! Food at its “Sausage World” in Bedale.

As part of the development of its bespoke burger, ball and banger factory, the company has invested in equipment which has led to them being awarded BRC AA rating – the highest food quality award available in the industry.

HECK ! monitors for a wide range of quality and manufacturing markers on the production line, which are then analysed by the quality control and production team. The sensors are continually checking that only top quality ingredients make it into the sausage. This helps to reduce waste and ensure consistency in size and shape. This is just one area that   HECK! uses data.

“We use a wide range of sensor technology to monitor quality control which is then analysed by the team. They use the data from the production line to ensure efficiency of production,” explains Andrew Keeble of HECK ! Food.

The duo heading up production, Angela Robson and quality, Kate Chapman, have been credited by co-Founder Andrew as the driving force behind huge efficiencies in the business.

“We are about 100 times the size of when we started. The combination of technology, with the brilliance of Angela and Kate’s team, means we are operating at maximum efficiency across the board, which is vital to our growth ambitions.”

Philip Jordan, a Partner at Ward Hadaway’s Leeds office, said he is seeing more businesses across the region using big data to make better decisions and improve their processes like Rakusen’s and HECK ! Food.

He said: “We are seeing the use of data analytics increasingly within our clients’ businesses. Those businesses that harness these new and developing technologies will be the most competitive and fastest-growing businesses of the future.

“Investment in new technology and data aggregation is prevalent across all sectors of the economy. As Rakusen’s and HECK ! Food have shown, the technology companies of the future will be in a multitude of industries from Food and Drink, to Recruitment to Education and beyond.

“Understanding the value of the data in your business and how to protect it will be increasingly important.”Data” is often quoted as being the new “oil” – and therefore it is within the hands of every businesses to harness this opportunity.”

Philip Jordan is a Partner at Ward Hadaway’s Leeds office. He can be contacted on 0113 205 6646 and Philip.jordan@wardhadaway.com

If your browser settings permit, we have placed cookies on your computer for analytics and other site-improvement purposes. You can give or withdraw consent at any time by changing your cookie settings.