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course: Manufacturing

Data-Driven Digitalization with Apache Kafka in the Food Industry at BAADER

27 min
Patrick Neff

Patrick Neff

Data Scientist

Data-Driven Digitalization with Apache Kafka in the Food Industry at BAADER

Coming out of university, Patrick Neff (Data Scientist, BAADER) was used to “perfect” examples of datasets. However, he soon realized that in the real world, data is often either unavailable or unstructured.

This compelled him to learn more about collecting data, analyzing it in a smart and automatic way, and exploring Apache Kafka® as a core ecosystem while at BAADER, a global provider of food processing machines. After Patrick began working with Apache Kafka in 2019, he developed several microservices with Kafka Streams and used Kafka Connect for various data analytics projects.

Focused on the food value chain, Patrick’s mission is to optimize processes specifically around transportation and processing. In consulting one customer, Patrick detected an area of improvement related to animal welfare, lost revenues, unnecessary costs, and carbon dioxide emissions. He also noticed that often machines are ready to send data into the cloud, but the correct presentation and/or analysis of the data is missing and thus the possibility of optimization. As a result:

  • Data is difficult to understand because of missing units
  • Data has not been analyzed so far
  • Comparison of machine/process performance for the same machine but different customers is missing

In response to this problem, he helped develop the Transport Manager. Based on data analytics results, the Transport Manager presents information like a truck’s expected arrival time and its current poultry load. This leads to better planning, reduced transportation costs, and improved animal welfare. The Asset Manager is another solution that Patrick has been working on, and it presents IoT data in real time and in an understandable way to the customer. Both of these are data analytics projects that use machine learning.

Kafka topics store data, provide insight, and detect dependencies related to why trucks are stopping along the route, for example. Kafka is also a real-time platform, meaning that alerts can be sent directly when a certain event occurs using ksqlDB or Kafka Streams.

As a result of running Kafka on Confluent Cloud and creating a scalable data pipeline, the BAADER team is able to break data silos and produce live data from trucks via MQTT. They’ve even created an Android app for truck drivers, along with a desktop version that monitors the data inputted from a truck driver on the app in addition to other information, such as expected time of arrival and weather information—and the best part: All of it is done in real time.

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