News: RedBlack Software and Campden BRI win £68,000 Innovate UK grant for intelligent dough mixing project

Gary Tucker & Jane Tyler

Project aims to save commercial bakers significant amounts of time, costs and materials

YORK, UK, MAY 08, 2019 – RedBlack Software and Campden BRI have won a £68,000 grant from the government funding agency Innovate UK to find out whether artificial intelligence (AI) can improve bread dough mixing in order to reduce bakery waste.

The feasibility study brings together data technologists at RedBlack Software, creator of the market-leading Cybake bakery management application, and food scientists at Campden BRI, the UK’s most prominent food and drink industry research association.

Approximately 80% of the UK’s bread is made with automated systems. An automated bread line typically operates with two mixers feeding the line with dough at production rates of 8-10,000kg/h. Each mixer (e.g. 400kg capacity) operates at 11-13 mixes/h and is controlled to time or energy. Poor quality dough has major impacts on each downstream processing stage, causing equipment failure and generating waste dough.

RedBlack and Campden BRI’s project will directly address this issue, helping to reduce waste and maintain high bread quality by developing a system that uses deep learning technology to control dough mixer settings.

Campden BRI will carry out dough mixing and baking experiments to generate data for the new AI software. RedBlack will combine objective scientific instrument data with subjective data from human experts, pulling and transforming all this disparate information through data pipelines into a cloud-based data factory.

This data store will form the foundation for predictive models which will seek patterns in the data in order to make recommendations on mixer settings. Analysts will compare and contrast several different deep learning technologies to identify which one is best able to find patterns and make predictions for the new application.

Potentially, the control of dough mixing using artificial intelligence represents the first significant improvement opportunity in bakery efficiency since for over 20 years. No major developments in mixer technology have been widely adopted by the UK bakery sector since pressure-vacuum mixing in 1995 (a Baker-Perkins patent) and, before that, high shear dough mixing invented in 1961 by the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association (FMBRA – which became part of Campden BRI).

Gary Tucker, manager of Campden BRI’s Baking and Cereal Processing Department, (pictured) says: “By developing new approaches to improve dough mixing consistency, our project is intended to support government and industry efforts to reduce food waste, both in manufacturing and in the home.

“WRAP suggests £205m as the value for waste from industrial bakeries. If successful, the technology that results from our intelligent dough mixer project could significantly reduce this figure, maybe by 50% depending on market penetration. It may prove that higher levels of automation will reduce waste levels.”

Jane Tyler, managing director of RedBlack Software, (also pictured) says: “Getting dough mixes right is critical to operational success but difficult to achieve. Even slightly differing flour qualities have a big effect on the end product quality. Because of this, bakers throw away considerable amounts of dough before it is ever baked. Our intelligent dough mixer project aims to minimise this – it could save commercial bakers significant amounts of time, costs and materials.

News: RedBlack Software releases Cybake Outbound mobile delivery management module to help wholesale bakers go paperless

Cybake Outbound screensEasy-to-use mobile app saves bakers a bundle on paper, printing and data re-entry

YORK, UK, FEBRUARY 11, 2019 – RedBlack Software today announces Cybake Outbound, a mobile delivery management module for wholesale users of its Cybake 4 bakery control system.

With Cybake Outbound, customers now sign for goods on drivers’ phones instead of paper delivery notes. The cloud-based app loads easily onto drivers’ phones and tells them which customers to deliver to, what to deliver and the best route to take via Google Maps.

The app also give drivers the option to verify unattended (often very early-morning) drop offs by taking proof-of-delivery photos.

Cybake Outbound is very simple to use, with a self-evident interface that makes it easy for drivers that are new to the route or the job, telling them what to do each step of the way.

With the new app, bakery drivers can make adjustments to deliveries on their phones which are updated straight into their company’s Cybake management system. Previously, drivers wrote adjustments (queried goods, returns, credits etc) on duplicate delivery notes which then had to be rekeyed into Cybake back at head office.

Uniquely, drivers can also amend customers’ standing orders with the new module and take orders for items on the spot or for a future date, providing better customer service and the opportunity for upselling.

Cybake Outbound was developed at the request of users of the Cybake 4 bakery management system, which already plans delivery routes for wholesale bakers. For these users, the benefits of the new module are clear.

Firstly, there is no longer a need for bakery firms to print out route maps, invoices and delivery notes for their drivers, saving huge amounts of time, paper and printing costs.

Secondly, all interactions between drivers and customers are inputted straight into Cybake via the new app. Production requirements are adjusted accordingly throughout the whole system and the endless rekeying of data required by paper-based note-taking is eliminated.

Thirdly, as drivers can now deal with adjustments, standing orders and queries on the spot, bakers spend less time on the phone at head office dealing with misunderstandings or chasing them up.

As well as improving account management, head office sees the incoming proofs of delivery as drop-offs are made, so staff can relay the status of deliveries better. Delivery drivers can dial each customer’s number at the touch of a symbol on their Cybake Outbound screen to inform them of where they are up to, further improving the customer experience.

Unlike other systems which tie users to specific types of specialist PDAs or operating system, Cybake Outbound works on any smartphone, Android, iOS or Windows. There is no capital outlay and no need to spend money on expensive generic delivery tracking software.

Jane Tyler, managing director of RedBlack Software, says: “Bakers want to cut their printing costs, go paperless and save the planet. That’s the message we got from very many of our users, so we developed Cybake Outbound to do just that.

All bakers produce a proliferation of paper in the form of invoices, production reports and delivery notes. Although some customers may still want three-part paperwork, with this new module, bakers can now give them the choice. Electronic delivery notes have the added advantage that they update the Cybake system so no further data entry is needed.”

Pricing: Cybake Outbound is available now to users of Cybake 4 from £25 per month per van.

News: RedBlack Software announces Cybake 4, the new cloud-based version of its flagship bakery management solution

Retail Cybake product familyNext step in popular baking industry application’s 20-year evolution is “digital transformation made real”.

FOODEX, NEC, UK, APRIL 16, 2018. RedBlack Software today announces the release of Cybake 4, a brand-new, cloud-based version of its flagship bakery management solution.

The launch of Cybake 4 marks a complete shift from on-premise delivery to a pure SaaS architecture. It is the biggest revision of the application since Cybake 3, first released in 2009.

Cybake 4 is an easy-to-use, all-in-one bakery management system that controls orders, recipes and purchasing as well as generating production sheets, packing lists, delivery notes and invoices.

For wholesale bakers, Cybake 4 now includes a delivery route planner as well as a module that allows users to receive online orders from their trade customers.

For retail bakers, Cybake 4 now enables bakery shop re-ordering and stock control via mobile devices. Cybake 4 also includes modules that forecast demand to automate shop replenishment and that plan production for bake-off items.

With a microservices architecture and using cutting-edge analytics, Cybake 4 is based on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. Users no longer have to worry about maintaining their own server infrastructure or the associated costs involved, including installation and security.

Other new features in Cybake 4 include an improved, wide-screen user interface; Microsoft Power BI reporting; and new APIs for seamless integration with all versions of Xero, QuickBooks and Sage accounts software.

Perfect for bakers of all sizes, Cybake 4 offers friendly and reliable support, smooth implementation and pain-free migration from out-of-date software systems. Cybake 4 is sold on a subscription basis that includes licences, upgrades, maintenance and customer support.

Jane Tyler, RedBlack Software’s managing director, says: “I am very pleased to announce the next step in Cybake’s twenty-year evolution. RedBlack has been moving towards a SaaS model since the release of our Infood FIR-compliance solution in 2014. The new, cloud-based version of Cybake is the culmination of the biggest R&D investment in our company’s history. For bakers, Cybake 4 is digital transformation made real.”

* Cybake is exhibiting on stand Y249 at Foodex at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, UK, from April 16-18.

Cloud-based Cybake 4 features an enhanced wide-screen interface and includes a new deliveries planner
Cloud-based Cybake 4 features an enhanced wide-screen interface and includes a new deliveries planner

News: Software sector specialist Sandy Scott appointed CEO of RedBlack Software

One of RedBlack Software’s new CEO Sandy Scott’ first duties (pictured, right, with clipboard) was being a judge earlier this month at the Scottish Baker of the Year 2018 competition.
One of RedBlack Software’s new CEO Sandy Scott’ first duties (pictured, right, with clipboard) was being a judge earlier this month at the Scottish Baker of the Year 2018 competition. Photo credit: Katielee Arrowsmith/Scottish Bakers.

RedBlack Software has appointed enterprise software sector specialist Sandy Scott as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Scott has also made a significant investment in the company.

York-based software developer RedBlack is best known for its market-leading Cybake suite of bakery management solutions as well as BakePlan, an advanced forecasting application for supermarkets, convenience stores and food-to-go operators.

Sandy Scott has many years’ experience nurturing and growing companies in the business software industry. He has a strong track record in the development, sales and marketing of successful software solutions.

Rising through the ranks to become MD of British HR and payroll pioneer Peterborough Software in 1995, he oversaw the firm’s later merger into Rebus Software (which was itself purchased by Northgate after his departure for £153 million).

He led Leicester-headquartered recruitment software solution specialist Safe Computing as chief executive from 2002 until last year. After leading a management buyout, a period of strong growth and a series of acquisitions, Scott oversaw the sale of the £18 million turnover company to London-based The Access Group, in March, 2017.

Scott has taken up the role of CEO of RedBlack Software with immediate effect. His long-time business collaborator Mark James, who served as company secretary at Safe Computing, has also been appointed as financial controller of RedBlack Software.

Commenting on his new role, Sandy Scott says: “I have a background of success in specialist vertical business solutions. RedBlack Software has a strong stable of sector-specific applications developed by an impressive team, so it’s a great fit. RedBlack fully exploits next-generation technologies and I see strong growth potential in its products.”

Jane Tyler, founder and managing director of RedBlack Software, says: “The arrival of a CEO of Sandy’s calibre is a serious coup for our company. His strategic expertise is already being felt across all our areas of operation.”

Tyler, who is also the vice chair of British Society of Baking, adds: “In recent times, we have transitioned to a cloud-based model, broken into the international grocery retail market and won investment from Innovate UK. With Sandy’s knowledge and direction, we are now even better positioned to take our businesses to a whole new level, both at home and internationally.”

Blog: Hack to the future

RedBlack CTO Steve Dickinson explains how two teams of our technologists took on the IoT challenge in our latest hackathon.

In the interest of keeping things cutting-edge at RedBlack, we like to get everyone together once a month and hold a good old hackathon.

For the uninitiated, a hackathon is where programmers team up to collaborate intensively over a short period of time to come up with a piece of useable software that solves a problem. In our case, pretty much everyone (developers, architects, managers) takes a short break from their usual schedule to join in. Participants get to have fun, think out of the box, play with technology and, very often, come up with some truly synapse-sparking ideas.

The theme of our latest hackathon was the internet of things. IoT, as it is abbreviated, is the term that describes the interconnection via the internet between computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.

Our hackers were given eight hours to produce a shippable product that used a Raspberry Pi or Arduino microcontroller and was based on a real-life scenario. The end result had to connect to the cloud, have a workable user interface and consist of at least two different components.

Employees across the company were split into two teams. Each team started with a 30-minute discovery session in which they reviewed what components were available to them and discussed any potential ideas.

Both teams had the same ideas of using a Raspberry Pi 3 with Windows IoT and RFID components. They also both decided to focus on the issues we have surrounding the supply of water for our water cooler. The problems are:

•    we keep running out of water
•    we have no indication of the amount of water left without lifting the cover of the water cooler
•    we have no indication of how long the water supply will last before it runs out.

The components of both team’s concepts for providing a solution were similar. These included:

•    semi-automated stock management for office water
•    a Raspberry Pi-based system, with no wired connections, fixed to the cooler
•    RFID-based identification of stock changes
•    visual identification of estimated water levels
•    audible indicators of RFID success
•    a web-based UI for stock management.

Within the allotted eight hours, the teams combined to produce and present a working product utilising Microsoft Azure to host the required APIs and store the relevant data, as below:

The application was built using Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which was packaged and deployed to the Raspberry Pi 3 running Windows IoT Core. The web user interface below shows the water level, average bottle consumption time, current stock level and estimated time before the stock levels are depleted.

Each time a new water bottle is installed onto the water cooler the bottle is scanned using an RFID tag. There was even enough time to develop a PowerBI report like this that shows stock levels:

If we had more time, some logical extensions of our system would be:

•    generating emails when stock levels are lower than the lead time for delivery
•    multiple RFID tags for each water bottle so each stock item is identifiable
•    packaging and waterproofing the Raspberry Pi
•    projection of future data using Power BI.

While we’re not about to run off and create a new start-up with our new water cooler app any time soon, we do have a nifty new gizmo in the office. More importantly, our latest hackathon was a great opportunity to explore the nexus between IoT and the cloud.

Web technology expert Steven Dickinson first joined RedBlack in 2002 as a programmer. He went on to take senior development positions at the Food Standards Agency and Capita. Steve rejoined RedBlack in 2014 and, as chief technology officer, heads up the development of our software solutions.