Azure and machine learning have helped the manufacturer capture and analyse factory data
Printer manufacturer Ricoh is using Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI) technology to reduce costs and waste of expensive toner and ink. Microsoft Azure and machine learning have helped the company capture and analyse factory data, and fill toner bottles more accurately and consistently.
The move is predicted to save the electronics company over £200,000 ($248,000) each year.
“We import bulk toner produced in Japanese factories, which we use to fill anywhere from 400,000 to 900,000 toner bottles per month in the UK,” said Richard Aston, digital operations engineering manager at Ricoh UK. “Every bottle has a lower threshold and an upper threshold, and there is a lot of automation and processing equipment used in filling them. We wanted to leverage Microsoft’s machine learning technology and our data to improve the process.”
Workers at the factory are using Microsoft tools, such as the Azure cloud platform, IoT Hub, Stream Analytics, Data Lake, Databricks and DevOps, to improve operations. Ricoh has also recently hired a data scientist and is looking to recruit a data architect to make better use of the business’s information.
“It’s about understanding what technology we need for the future, the best way to manage the machine learning algorithms, how to effectively train the data and deploy the models,” said Aston. “Microsoft has been very supportive in terms of upskilling us. I’ve been connecting with a lot of the data and analytics experts there. Microsoft is investing in AI and it gives us a lot of confidence that we’re putting our faith and trust into a company that will deliver.”