- Capabilities Used
The engineers developed and integrated chilled forming components and fluid management components with motion and logic control that enabled hundreds of WikiPearls to be automatically produced per hour.
Automating Manufacturing for Growth
WikiFoods was having success making WikiPearls in its Cambridge, MA, site and its WikiBar, an ice cream parlor-cum-lab in Paris. But each one was made by hand and no two were alike. WikiFoods partnered with Altitude to design a method to automate the process and mass-produce WikiPearls. Using our enabling technology and engineered solutions methodologies, our technology team successfully conceptualized, designed, and built a machine that met WikiFood’s mass production requirements and is allowing the business to scale.
Turning a manual process into one that’s automated necessitates a combination of activities and skills to enable the right technical solution. To begin, Altitude needed to deeply understand the challenges associated with transforming the ingredients into WikiPearls. This meant addressing challenges of viscosity, freezing temperatures, and materials interactions with the various ingredients. The Altitude team then researched and tested manufacturing processes, building the essential technical knowledge to develop the system from the ground up. The team looked at analogous industry equipment to identify processing techniques to fuel our own creative solutions. From there, multiple prototypes and confidence models were quickly built and tested for the technological concepts that would define the machine functionality.
Designing with Critical Requirements in Mind
The engineers developed and integrated chilled forming components and fluid management components with motion and logic control that enabled hundreds of WikiPearls to be automatically produced per hour.The team implemented technologies that met the WikiPearl viscosity need and controlled the flow rate and speed of the process through motion control. In addition, each machine had to comply with food science regulatory benchmarks, including from the FDA and NSF.
Throughout the course of the program, many approaches were tried, lessons learned, and challenges overcome. Experimentation, quick failure, and rapid learning were key to success. And we weren’t shy about pushing envelopes, such as borrowing manufacturing processes from other industries and adapting them to materials and temperatures with which they’ve never been used before.
Today, WikiFoods is well on the way to success. It has a partnership with Stonyfield Farms yogurt and is launching Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls, made on the machine created with Altitude, in Whole Foods stores across the country. Thanks to the combination of WikiPearl’s bold vision of edible packaging and Altitude’s ability to turn it into mass-production reality, we all may get to experience a future of food that is more fun, more convenient, and a lot less wasteful.