Log in
E-mail
Password
Remember
Forgot password ?
Become a member for free
Sign up
Sign up
Settings
Settings
Dynamic quotes 
OFFON

MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nasdaq  >  Microsoft Corporation    MSFT

MICROSOFT CORPORATION

(MSFT)
  Report  
SummaryQuotesChartsNewsRatingsCalendarCompanyFinancialsConsensusRevisions 
News SummaryMost relevantAll newsOfficial PublicationsSector newsMarketScreener StrategiesAnalyst Recommendations

Microsoft : Your Snack's Crunch Is Cloud-Verified

share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with facebook
share via e-mail
0
11/24/2018 | 07:14am EDT

By Mike Cherney

BRISBANE, Australia -- To make a snack with the perfect crunch, one company is turning to the cloud.

Majans Pty, which makes pea- and nut-based snacks in Australia, is teaming up with Microsoft Corp. and others to test a system that uses a beam of light to measure moisture and salt levels, then uploads that data in real time to the cloud. If successful, it could allow factory managers to instantly detect an issue in production -- possibly with just an alert on their smartphones.

Too much moisture can lead to an unsatisfying crunch, a big problem for snack companies that have just one bite to impress consumers. But current methods often require a technician to scoop snacks off a conveyor belt, bring the sample into a lab and use a special machine to get a moisture reading. At Majans, that test is only done every one to two hours, potentially overlooking flawed product.

"Moisture is the enemy of crunchy snacks," said Mathew Barbagallo, the chief commercial officer at family-owned, privately held Majans, which sells its snacks in the U.S. as well as Australia. The crunch "triggers certain sensors in the brain to add a level of enjoyment. The crunchier, the better."

Since batches of snacks are sometimes unfit for sale if they're too soggy, better data from the factory floor can help reduce waste and save money. Ensuring snacks are sufficiently crunchy can also help food makers succeed in an industry where competition is intensifying. Health-conscious consumers are embracing everything from date-based protein balls to roasted fava beans, a trend that is pushing manufacturers to look beyond potato chips and make crunchy snacks from a wider range of foods, like kale and seaweed.

A survey conducted earlier this year by market research firm IRI found that 50% of U.S. consumers eat snacks that "add excitement to their daily diet." That was a 19-point jump from a similar survey two years prior, suggesting that many consumers are looking for more variety in their snacks. IRI expected snacks based on beans and chickpeas to be fast-growing categories.

Food companies that tap into shifting consumer tastes -- and use technology to ensure a compelling crunch -- could grab a bigger slice of the growing U.S. snack market, which research firm IBISWorld estimates is worth nearly $43 billion in revenue this year. The market is projected to increase 4.2% annually over the next five years, up from 3.7% in the previous five-year period.

One day earlier this month, a conveyor belt ferried a barbecue-flavored, tapioca-based shrimp cracker around Majans's Australian factory. The conveyor passed under a device, called a spectrometer, that determines moisture content by beaming light onto the snacks and measuring what is reflected back. The information was then displayed on a computer screen in an office overlooking the factory floor.

"That's gold, that data," said Phil Dahlenburg, the manufacturing manager at Majans, as he watched results from the machine appear on the computer screen.

The spectrometer, made by a unit of German manufacturer Zeiss Group, costs roughly $40,000, and is already used by other companies to assess potato products and tobacco. But Microsoft says the Majans plant is the first time it has connected a device like this in a snack factory to the cloud -- which is being used to bring everything from refrigerators to livestock and beer kegs online.

Measuring moisture content "moves the game quite a fair bit" from traditional, lab-based methods, said Angeline Achariya, chief executive at the Monash Food Innovation Centre, a unit of a local university in Melbourne, Australia. "Every company is looking for technologies that can give them much more real-time data."

In general, some 3% to 5% of snacks produced in a factory might be unfit for sale due to production issues, Mr. Dahlenburg estimates. Depending on the severity, manufacturers might be able to blend an irregular batch of snacks with future production runs to recoup some losses, or use bad batches in livestock feed.

After collecting a sample for a moisture test using the traditional machine, a technician needs to grind it up and feed it into the device -- which can take six minutes or more to spit back a reading.

In contrast, the cloud-connected spectrometer can offer readings every two seconds and deliver that data to a computer nearly instantaneously. If found to be reliable enough, Majans could install more of the devices in a new factory being developed.

"That crunch is a promise" to customers, said Amit Raniga, a director at Majans. "You can't compromise on that."

Write to Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
JUST EAT -8.23% 622 Delayed Quote.6.00%
MICROSOFT CORPORATION -0.67% 128.07 Delayed Quote.26.94%
share with twitter share with LinkedIn share with facebook
share via e-mail
0
Latest news on MICROSOFT CORPORATION
05/17MICROSOFT : Building responsible and trustworthy conversational AI
PU
05/17NOW LIVE : Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2019 session catalog
PU
05/17MICROSOFT : Minecraft celebrates 10 years with ‘Minecraft Earth' announcem..
PU
05/17ASIA MARKETS: Stocks Gain In Japan, But Trade Tensions Weigh On Hong Kong, Ma..
DJ
05/17GLOBAL MARKETS LIVE : Nissan, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony…
05/17MICROSOFT : and General Assembly launch partnership to close the global AI skill..
PR
05/17MICROSOFT : Sony to Partner on Cloud Technology
DJ
05/17Microsoft, Sony partner on streaming games, chips and AI
RE
05/16MICROSOFT : Building the inclusive workplace we imagine, together
PU
05/16MICROSOFT : May 2019 Xbox Update includes improvements to your friends list, mes..
PU
More news
Financials ($)
Sales 2019 125 B
EBIT 2019 41 757 M
Net income 2019 35 070 M
Finance 2019 63 241 M
Yield 2019 1,42%
P/E ratio 2019 28,24
P/E ratio 2020 25,11
EV / Sales 2019 7,35x
EV / Sales 2020 6,55x
Capitalization 981 B
Chart MICROSOFT CORPORATION
Duration : Period :
Microsoft Corporation Technical Analysis Chart | MarketScreener
Full-screen chart
Technical analysis trends MICROSOFT CORPORATION
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
TrendsNeutralBullishBullish
Income Statement Evolution
Consensus
Sell
Buy
Mean consensus OUTPERFORM
Number of Analysts 35
Average target price 143 $
Spread / Average Target 12%
EPS Revisions
Managers
NameTitle
Satya Nadella Chief Executive Officer & Director
Bradford L. Smith President & Chief Legal Officer
John Wendell Thompson Independent Chairman
Jean-Philippe Courtois President-Global Sales, Marketing & Operations
Amy E. Hood Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
Sector and Competitors
1st jan.Capitalization (M$)
MICROSOFT CORPORATION26.94%981 377
RED HAT5.64%32 975
ATLASSIAN CORPORATION PLC45.15%31 133
ZOOM VIDEO COMMUNICATIONS INC0.00%23 070
SPLUNK INC30.18%20 496
CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS INC.60.65%19 296