Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


Artificial Intelligence Solves Process Problems

Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

Artificial intelligence software known as neural networks is being used to analyse operations in New Zealand factories, thanks to work by Lower Hutt engineering consultancy Process Developments.

Blake Fieldes of Process Developments says New Zealand industries have previously used high-cost neural network software for process control, "but low-cost software similar to the packages used for sharemarket analyses can also be used to solve process problems".

The neural network software uses historical data to develop a model that relates ingredients such as raw materials and operating conditions, to outputs such as the cost of energy.

The project to develop the company's software for process performance analysis was supported by Technology New Zealand, the Government agency that helps business to research new products, processes and services.

Dr Fieldes says the model works by pattern recognition. When it is presented with a new set of ingredient conditions it effectively says: "Hello, I've seen those sorts of conditions before in the historical data, so I expect the energy cost to be this value.”

As an example, the production manager of a New Zealand company asked Process Developments to investigate why the company's annual power bill had risen by $1 million. Traditional - statistical - methods of analysing the production data weren't picking up why the power bill had increased.

"The great advantage of a neural network model is that it ranks the inputs, telling us what's important and what's not," Dr Fieldes says.

"It delivers this information much faster than statistical modelling.

"For the power bill problem, the neural network model showed us why costs had increased and in a six-month trial after it was developed, it successfully predicated energy costs without further modelling work.

"With the software available today this sort of modelling exercise costs only $6000 to $10,000. We've got a powerful new tool for process performance analysis at an affordable cost.”


Contact: * Dr Blake Fieldes, Process Developments Ltd, 65 Waterloo Rd, Lower Hutt. Ph: (04) 569-3852. Fax (04) 566-5601. Email:

* Philip Mowles, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, Ph: (04) 498-7845 or 025 815-426. Website:

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by I D Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Up 17.% In June Year: Fuel And Rent Drive Inflation

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.6 percent in the June 2019 quarter, due to higher prices for petrol and rent, Stats NZ said today. More>>


Services: Softer June Points To Economic Slowdown

Activity in New Zealand's services sector softened in June, adding to a picture of lacklustre economic growth. The BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of services index fell 0.8 of a point in June from May to a seasonally adjusted 52.7. More>>


Incomings: Migration Remains High

Annual net migration was provisionally estimated at 50,200 (± 800) in the year ended December 2018 compared with 52,600 in the previous year, Stats NZ said. More>>


BusinessDesk: ComCom Files High Court Proceedings Against Westpac

The commission alleges the bank breached the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 by failing to provide key information it was required to give customers under the law. More>>