Asahi Shuzo's artificial intelligence sake brewing system seeks to overcome labour shortages

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Asahi Shuzo’s sake brewing facility.
Asahi Shuzo’s sake brewing facility.
Asahi Shuzo is to use a predictive artificial intelligence model developed by Fujitsu Laboratories to brew its DASSAI sake.

The collaboration will start with a field trial, according to a joint announcement.

Using past brewing data (such as brewing temperature and proportion of different ingredients) accumulated by Asahi Shuzo, the predictive AI technology known as Fujitsu Human Centric AI Zinrai​will calculate and provide information to optimise sake brewing process.

The predictive AI model developed by Fujitsu Laboratories is a technology capable of computing information to support optimised processes in sake brewing, by combining a mathematical model defining the procedure of sake brewing with machine learning using measured values for the components found in sake.

The trial is stated to run for two cycles from April to June. In the process, the companies seek to improve the prediction accuracy of the model, evaluate its effectiveness, as well as its practicality in sake brewing.

Famed for its premium, refined taste, DASSAI sake is growing in popularity, driving Asahi Shuzo’s business overseas. Asahi Shuzo’s shipments have grew nearly ten times from year 2005 to 2013 in a period when sake consumption in Japan is seeing a steady decline, according to a report by Nippon.com. 

However, with an ageing population and expected labour shortages in sake brewing facilities, maintaining a steady supply of high quality sake has become a challenge. As a result, the company “has been working for many years to record and systematise its experience in sake brewing.”

Second collaboration with Fujitsu

In year 2014, Asahi Shuzo deployed Fujitsu’s food and agriculture cloud “Akisai”​ to increase total production of sake rice needed to make DASSAI sake.   

By installing sensors in the paddy fields to measure air temperature, humidity, soil temperature, soil moisture and soil fertility, they collected data on an hourly basis.

“Akisai”​ then summarizes the work data, which farmers can refer to, be it on their computers or smartphones.

With the data, farmers will then determine the best timing to fertilise and harvest their crops.

Even farmers with no experience of growing the required rice are can tap on “Akisai” to produce the rice in substantial yields.

AI the way to brew?

Elsewhere, London-based company, IntelligentX Brewing Co created the world’s first beer brewed by artificial intelligence.

Rob McInerney, co-founder of IntelligentX said the process starts by working with the brewer to “encode their intuition into our algorithm.”

Once the beer is brewed, it can take feedback from consumers to help the beer evolve.

 “AI is about making decisions, and when you’re brewing beer there are a lot of decisions that need to be made,” ​he said.

“We take all the choices – the ingredients, the methods and so on – and put that in a data structure that the AI understands.”

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