The Hershey Company using AI and IoT to streamline production

The Hershey Company is the unrivalled king of chocolate-based candy in America and it actually produces a lot more products than you might’ve expected. The company manufactures a wide variety of chocolates ranging from classics such as Hershey’s chocolate bars, kisses and their iconic chocolate syrup to other well-known brands such as Kit Kat, Whoppers as well as Reese’s peanut butter cups which are Reese’s No.1 selling candy in the United States.

The Hershey's Chocolate World store in Times Square, New York City (2008)

The Hershey's Chocolate World store in Times Square, New York City (2008)

The Hershey Company pulls in over $7.8 billion dollars in revenue with a total of 15360 employees worldwide! These astonishing numbers beg the question – why does a chocolate manufacturing company need so many employees? Marketing, packaging design, landing new contracts etc. requires a lot of people. Office 365 really has made communication and collaboration within the company a lot faster and more efficient which saves time. Time, which can be a critical factor in getting an advertisement out to the consumers at the right time. They even have their own intranet called The Conche and it provides all the ingredients a business needs to run smoothly. Its about providing information to the right people, in real-time. Giving employees access to more information allows them to improve the way they manage their own work and it empowers them. They get to make informed decisions and create solutions with higher business value.

With the integration of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and IoT devices in their manufacturing process, Hershey is streamlining production. They’ve been missing the machine learning aspect of improving production. They have been collecting data for years, its all been there with no one to fully analyse it properly and draw conclusions from it to make better decisions in the future.

“The future for Hershey is very exciting—with Microsoft cloud solutions, we are in control of our digital journey, connecting everyone to work better together and share our goodness.” - Carlos Amesquita: Chief Information Officer

Manual labour might take a full shift/ a day’s worth of work just to react to the live data given to them from the IoT devices, whereas now, the data gets uploaded to the their Azure IoT hub and machine learning software models react to the data instead. This means that the reaction speed has dramatically increased and machine learning software on the cloud will adjust variables such as the temperature of a machine, in a factory, in real-time, reducing variability. So far, they have tried this technology will Twizzlers and it has already saved them $500 000. Analytics are also available for all employees to look at; thus connecting more people to more information. It all leads back to better consumer experience and higher revenue.

“Hershey is well known for having great insight into the customer, but with Azure Machine Learning, we’ll take insight to a higher level in all aspects of our business.” -George Lenhart: Senior Manager, Advanced Productivity and Collaboration

Article thumbnail credit - The Hershey Company