Company News

Chill Can Project Expands to 9 Buildings, R&D in AI

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The $20 million “chill-can” campus that Joseph Co. International is constructing on the city’s East Side is expanding from six to nine buildings, some of which will be used for research and development in the area of artificial intelligence, its CEO said this morning.

“Our ninth building will be dedicated to artificial intelligence,” Mitchell Joseph, CEO, told an audience at Youngstown State University at the Manufacturing Day event held at the Williamson College of Business Administration. “It will be artificial intelligence surrounding the food and beverage industry.”

The company, based in Irvine, Calif., is building a plastics injection molding and assembly operation to produce the world’s first self-chilling beverage can and technology, Joseph said, which will initially create about 250 jobs. The campus is also designed to engage in research and development to further self-contained chill technology that can be transferred to other industries such as athletics, food packaging, medicine and cosmetics

But that’s just the beginning, the CEO suggested.

“The chill can technology will create at least 250 new jobs to start,” he said, and then “advance into artificial intelligence. This alone will allow us to declare ourselves to new and unique concepts of futuristic manufacturing.”

Pioneering such technology places the company – and Youngstown – at the forefront of developing new advances in not just self-contained chilling concepts, but also advanced manufacturing related to automation and AI in the food and beverage industry, Joseph said.

“This will be the first in the world, and will expand,” he said.

Mitchell Joseph addresses the audience at the Manufacturing Day event held at YSU.

Artificial intelligence — that is, the use of robotics programmed to perform complex tasks once performed by humans — is already having an impact on the world’s food and beverage business, Joseph said.

In some fast food restaurants in California and Japan, for example, robots – not employees – deliver orders to customers. And in California, for example, self-screen orders now replace counter personnel. “Eventually, there won’t be anyone bringing your tray out,” he said.

Joseph, who was born in Youngstown and is a YSU graduate, noted that another building will be specifically dedicated to developing a self-chill package that is able to preserve products such as chocolate, since orders are shipped to destinations across the country.

“We’re excited,” he said. “The eyes of the world will once again see Youngstown as a manufacturing giant, focused on new manufacturing and production technologies.”

Joseph said about 200,000 self-chill cans were produced for test markets in California. Once the production run was complete, it had the desired effect of attracting the major beverage manufacturers to inquire about Joseph’s proprietary technology.

On Oct. 17, the CEO of Brown-Forman Corp., the parent of Jack Daniels, will visit the Youngstown operation, Joseph said. “They see the future of Kentucky Bourbon in the form of club cocktails,” he said.

The beverage industry produces one trillion units per year, and Joseph Co.’s plant in California has the capacity to produce about 20 million self-chilling cans annually. Its Youngstown operation could turn out about one billion a year.

“The bourbon industry wants to walk through the buildings, understand what we’re building here, and then they want to sit down and discuss the license. We have the volume here that they think will springboard a whole new generation of self-contained cooling cocktails,” Joseph said.

Martin Abraham, YSU provost, said that he’s excited that the Joseph Co. will be promoting internships for students in engineering and the sciences, and noted he is encouraged by the CEO’s dedication to diversifying the company’s manufacturing capabilities and markets.

“I’m really excited about that,” Abraham said of Joseph’s plans for developing an artificial intelligence division.

“One of the other things we’ve been working on is the computer science program – getting our computer science and manufacturing programs together – it creates opportunities for students that respond to the opportunities that he’s bringing.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.