Roberta Prescott … 28/10/2022 … Digital convergence
Artificial intelligence (AI) at BASF resides in a device developed by startup Noar that emits a dry scent with scents supported by the B-Scent app. It is also present in the digital mapping of weeds, which leads to a reduction in the consumption of herbicides in the control of resistant and difficult-to-control weeds. Artificial intelligence projects started at a multinational chemical company a few years ago and are in several areas, as Edson Akiyama, director of customer training at BASF in South America, explained to Convergência Digital.
Artificial intelligence supports the development of products and services, and when it comes to adoption in business and functional areas, such as finance and human resources, the degrees of maturity are very different, according to Akiyama. “We have extremely advanced areas. We launched a product in March 2022 in the field of fragrance called B-Scent, which is a digital fragrance. We are working within the concept of the Internet of Senses, which will transform the industry by 2030, with a combination of 5G, AI and other technologies,” he said.
B-Scent promises to revolutionize perfume experiences, as the device releases a selected scent into the air based on a command given in the app. The device, created by startup Noar, will be widely used by representatives of the multinational company to present various fragrances used in the perfume, personal care and household cleaning industries, according to BASF.
“The use of the Internet will not be only through the browser, but expanded so that you can taste, smell, touch. We live more and more in an interactive world and, in this sense, we work in the field of digital fragrances, where, instead of sending fragrances in liquid form, we create in partnership, through open innovation, with a startup to create an app-controlled device and you have a catalog of fragrances.” he described.
The device has some technologies, such as nanotechnology, which emits a dry smell. According to Akiyama, it’s a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data. “This is one of the trends we are working on here.”
The use of artificial intelligence began more or less in 2015 by the supply chain area within the global movement. In South America, BASF, following the four pillars that guide the company in the region — the transformation of mentality; user experience and innovation; efficiency; and sustainability —, promoted the development of a culture to inspire people through mindset transformation, training and, later, an intrapreneurship program to apply artificial intelligence to everyday life. In other words, the goal was to get employees to understand AI, its potential, and look for use cases for projects where AI could be adopted.
“We created programs to inspire people, through the communication channels we opened in the company, bringing people to talk about trends, artificial intelligence and we invited everyone. Always someone from the top management opens the lectures. This created more knowledge; and knowledge creates inspiration,” he said.
On other fronts, Edson Akiyama reported that 16 sales channels are being worked on in his area and that AI is being used in the lead capture process: for filtering, selection, new customer acquisition, cross-selling and customer retention. “There is a lot of artificial intelligence within the e-commerce framework, both behind the process and on the front end to recommend products. Big data and machine learning are used to analyze who buys what, to analyze local, regional and global markets,” he explained.
Artificial intelligence is also in the process of calculating how natural a product is. “These are smart calculators that take customer formulations and help them have more natural compounds,” he explained. In the innovation centers — there are two, one for personal care and the other for home care — in addition to open innovation with workshops with users, artificial intelligence is present in the solutions.
“That’s where the ideas for new product development come from, and we use artificial intelligence, whether to discover potential solutions for BASF or for customers,” said Akiyama, for whom the maturity level of artificial intelligence is heterogeneous, with some areas having lower utilization and others extremely high .
In agriculture, for example, the use of artificial intelligence has advanced quite a bit. Basf launched the tool field manager xarvio which helps farmers maximize the potential of their fields, leading to increased efficiency, time savings and optimization of crop protection inputs. Digital weed mapping functionality is in xarvio, which, according to the multinational, can lead to an average 61% reduction in herbicide use to control resistant and hard-to-control weeds.
The solution, which had its commercial launch in the 2019/2020 harvest. and was available on 100 farms, with a commercial launch in August 2020. “We are using xarvia together with our customers to help farmers make better use of their agricultural production from water and pesticides, with the best application of Basf products. Before, you flew a plane over a certain area and sprayed herbicides, pesticides, but there could be cross-contamination. With xarvio, we understand which area should be applied”, he pointed out.
According to BASF, since 2017 the digital weed mapping service, implemented by field manager xarvio, has been responsible for a total saving of close to 28.8 billion liters of water used in the dilution of agricultural pesticides. In the 2021/2022 harvest. 28 million liters were saved (data for Brazil). “We can fly over the plane, take photos with high granularity, so you can correct and see in detail down to the ground the areas that need to be treated. You see if you have larvae, if you have rust, if you have plant diseases and then fly over and make a precise application in that area”, he explained.
As for irrigation, it is possible to control where you need to put the water, control the soil, according to weather stations. The entire analysis uses AI to recognize the moisture level and introduce the correct amount of water.