Introduction to ImpactVision
ImpactVision is a machine learning company, applying hyperspectral imaging technology to food supply chains in order to improve food quality, generate consistent, high-quality products and reduce waste.
ImpactVision software is aimed at food processors, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. It provides real-time insights into the quality of foods. For example, the system is able to determine the freshness of fish, the dry matter content of avocados, or the presence of foreign objects – rapidly, non-invasively and at production grade speeds.
The first product ImpactVision is launching commercially is a foreign object detection (FoD) system that helps food companies who have severe challenges with non-magnetic foreign object contamination. The team are currently working with Mexico’s largest sugar processor, Beta San Miguel. This client has 17 facilities across Mexico, and they want to scale up with ImpactVision across their operations, starting with four warehouses. ImpactVision is currently reaching out to the sugar industry more broadly, alongside other bulk commodities, such as flour, spices and salt, and adjacent sectors like raisins, cookie dough and produce.
ImpactVision’s system combines hyperspectral camera hardware from Specim with their proprietary machine learning software. The hardware is mounted above a conveyor belt in food processing facilities, in order to capture images of products in real-time, as they pass below. The software models then analyze those images to provide insights about the quality of the product instantly and non-invasively. This information allows food companies to make decisions about how products should be packed, sorted and distributed based on quality attributes such as freshness, shelf-life or the presence of contamination.
Food industry: challenges and the solution
The food industry processing market is huge: In the USA alone, There are 30,000 food processing plants in the USA alone, of which 22,000 are facilities suitable for foreign object detection systems, 5,000 are fruit and vegetable distribution centers and 600 are seafood processors. The top 75 grocery retailers in North America have 533 distribution centers and 50,000 retail stores.
Today, food is inspected with destructive, sample-based methods that only cover about 1-3% of the overall volume, and the need for a more efficient inspection method is clear if the food industry is going to feed a rising global population.
- One-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste; and 50% of the waste is generated upstream in the supply chain.
- In 2018, there was over 30 high-profile product recalls related to foreign objects.
- Food fraud – adulteration, mislabelling, substitution, unapproved additives and so on – can cost 30-40 billion dollars a year.
With the help of Specim’s camera system and hyperspectral images, great insights can be drawn in areas of food grading and quality. As more information is collected about what are the key differences in the spectral properties of different food products, that information can be leveraged in grading and quality assessment. This database will be a valuable tool to provide better quality distribution and packaging system.
Longer term, ImpactVision is working with a partner on the development of a handheld device which can address use cases in other parts of the supply chain, such as in the field, or at the retail and consumer level. The hyperspectral camera provided by Specim sets the premise for mobile and robust image acquisition.