Afternoon Coffee: Tropical Storm Beta makes landfall, stalls over Texas; AI tech can reduce risk of wildfires; Kraft Heinz focuses on supply chain with new Ops Center

Tropical storm Beta made landfall Monday just north of Port O’Connor, Texas, before stalling out over Houston and Galveston, according to the Associated Press.

The storm is expected to linger over Texas before moving into Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi later this week bringing with it a high chance of flash flooding. Forecasters warned about heavy rainfall and flooding Tuesday on the middle and upper Texas coast. Tropical storm Beta is the ninth named storm making landfall in the continental U.S. this year, according to the article. Beta hits as the Florida Panhandle is still reeling from Hurricane Sally, and Hurricane Laura continues trekking up toward Canada.

Artificial intelligence, drones may prevent wildfires in the future

Artificial intelligence and drone technology might become the future of the energy and utility industry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Companies in California and other states are investigating how AI can reduce the risk of wildfires and other natural disasters.

Using drones and other AI technology, companies can better watch their equipment, which can reduce the risks of damaged gear sparking fires. They would deploy drones, computer vision and machine-learning to spot potential equipment issues, the article said. Drone cameras can take very high-resolution photos. Machine-learning can then spot any subtle changes or anomalies.

“We firmly believe that over time, the entire industry — worldwide, globally — will eventually leverage some sort of remote technology to inspect electrical equipment,” Mike Glass, the director of data and analytics in PG&E’s IT organization, told the Wall Street Journal. “And we believe there will be increasing levels of automation and artificial intelligence inside of that process over time.”

Kraft Heinz announces new supply chain initiative, Ops Center

Kraft Heinz announced last week it will work on improving its procurement process by joining historically disparate supply chain functions under a new operating model, according to Supply Chain Dive.

Executives said it will save the company $2 billion over the next five years. The new integrated strategy will develop an Ops Center, joining the company’s procurement, production and distribution teams with marketing and R&D. It will include an unspecified SKU reduction that is already in progress, the article said.

CEO Miguel Patricio said the supply chain is to blame for Kraft Heinz’s lower profitability in recent years. The company saw a $12.6 billion net loss in February 2019. The supply chain previously operated in siloes without sharing information or seeking efficiencies through collaboration, the article said.

"I truly cannot say enough about how Ops Center is transforming our operations and our mindset," Patricio told Supply Chain Dive. "We are creating a fast, adaptable and integrated supply chain with greater end-to-end visibility to drive continuous improvement."

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