With digital transformation, food industries remain competitive

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Daniel de la Puente, Head of European Projects at CTIC CITA, advocates for digital transformation to keep food industries competitive

Today, high energy and raw material prices drive up the costs of fertilizers, food processing and transportation. This makes digital transformation a key technology upgrade to help food industries stay competitive. Bio-Based Digital Twins (BBTWINS) is a four-year project, funded by the joint venture Bio-industries, aiming to develop a digital platform for the optimization of processes in the agrifood value chain and the supply of quality biomass for biotransformation.

Biomass for bioprocessing

The platform will be based on “digital twin” technology, creating a real-time digital replica of physical processes in two food industries. One of the novelties of BBTWINS is to combine blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of things and data analysis, as well as strategic and operational logistics solutions for the first time in a single platform. By integrating the value chain from cultivation to final product, BBTWINS will define the optimal path for each raw material to maximize efficiency and minimize waste – without affecting quality.

With 13 partners in seven countries, BBTWINS will focus on meat and fruit production in Spain and Greece, respectively. These two European regions have the advantage of benefiting from a warm climate which makes agricultural products more competitive. Additionally, Spain and Greece have a lower degree of technification, such as smart farming and automation of food processing, thus providing more room for improvement.

Digital simulation of food processes to increase profit margins

Ctic Cita, coordinator of BBTWINS, will focus on the digitization of physical processes within the chosen food industries. We will create a virtual replica of the physical and chemical realities involved in each key step of food processing, so that the digital twin can simulate the transformation of raw materials into food products. We will develop mathematical equations that faithfully represent these transformations, for example, the process of salting a piece of ham and how salt enters the meat and induces chemical changes, as well as the process of drying and salting the meat .

Another area of ​​mathematical simulation is the ripening process that peaches undergo as they are stored in controlled chambers before being transported for retail sale. Each variety has a different size and external surface area influencing air and moisture exchange, so the optimum storage temperature and humidity differ. Additionally, each batch comes at a different stage of ripening, so the storage time of the fruit differs significantly from farmer to farmer. In this regard, Ctic Cita uses hyperspectral cameras to continuously detect the state of maturity of each batch in order to automatically optimize storage conditions accordingly.

Ctic Cita aims to help food companies on their digital transformation journey by showing the economic benefits

process digitization, automation and predictive capabilities of digital twins, including blockchain traceability. Ultimately, this degree of technification should make industries more competitive by being able to spot inefficiencies, improve what is already working well, anticipate supply or production bottlenecks, and reduce costs in an environment where material and energy costs are rising.

Beyond cryptocurrencies – blockchain used for incorruptible traceability Blockchain can be defined as a distributed database storing a permanent and tamper-proof record of data. This distributed database is not controlled by a single entity, but the opposite – it features decentralization, consensus-based mechanisms, smart contracts, and immutable records designed with security from inception. Blockchain offers serializability, immutability, and cryptographic verifiability without a single point of trust, unlike a standard database system. These properties have sparked the adoption of blockchain in a wide variety of industries beyond viral cryptocurrencies. Companies see the value in the transparent and incorruptible visibility advantages it offers over existing loosely coupled centralized systems, especially for traceability purposes.

The blockchain is used in BBTWINS to ensure traceability. Internal traceability is essential for companies with integrated production like PORTESA, the meat industry of BBTWINS. Growing their own grains to produce their own feed for their pig farms and meat processing facilities, blockchain will allow them to track and trace all material flows within their production chain. Additionally, blockchain food traceability will minimize business disruption by facilitating targeted product recalls and enabling PORTESA to provide consumers with accurate information about the products they purchase.

Please note: this is a commercial profile

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