Pringles uses supercomputer to design its chips

Aerodynamics not only affects supercars or jets, it also affects... potato chips.

Around us there are seemingly simple things, but they are actually the result of long-term research to help human life become simpler, and sometimes more interesting.

If you know the Active Sound Design, you know that fake sound can be a tool for firms to control user behavior. Everything is designed to create certain sounds, and chips are a typical example. Scientists believe that one of the most important elements of fried potatoes is the crispness, the ability to 'break' when users bite them.

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One of those chips are Pringles', designed to create a crack as soon as users put it in their mouth. And furthermore, the shape of these potato pieces are created by supercomputers.

Tom Lange is an engineer who has worked at Procter & Gamble (P&G) for more than 30 years, responsible for product design. His daily job is to use high-performance computing (HPC) to study the properties of objects around us, from potato chips to baby diapers. They are simulated by computers, then interact with surrounding elements such as water, air or solid objects before being mass produced in reality.

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For example, with baby diapers, he must calculate their shape so that the urine of the newborn does not leak out. This work seems simple, but must take into account materials, fluid kinetics, diaper size… - things that only supercomputers can do effectively.

Or for coffee boxes, supercomputers are used to simulate them during actual use to see plastic box or metal box is better. The metal box is very firm, but will affect the smell of coffee, reduce its freshness. The plastic one is not as durable, but will solve the problem of taste.

Some famous customers of P&G are Charmin, Downy, Tide, Crest, Mr. Clean, Pampers, Hugo Boss and, of course, Pringles. A very interesting example that demonstrates the importance of supercomputer's product design lies in the collaboration of Procter & Gamble with Pringles - the world's largest producer of chips.

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Coming to P&G, Pringles' problem was the company produced chips too quickly, that they flew out of the production line. It was a major obstacle in the operation of Pringles, causing a huge amount of waste. To solve this problem, P&G used supercomputer to study the aerodynamic properties of potato chips.

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Aerodynamics is a study of the impact of air on things, often applied to high-speed vehicles such as racing cars or airplanes, to increase efficiency and make them move faster. In the case of Pringles, P&G had to use its supercomputer to create non-winding potatoes, which can go from the beginning to the end of the chain without flying out.

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Lange also shares that understanding the aerodynamic properties of potato chips is also important for cooking process. For example, the shape of the potatoes will affect the interaction between oil and steam. With the most effective shape, the potatoes will be fried evenly, giving the right taste and the best quality to the consumers.

In the future, P&G will also use its supercomputer to solve many other problems to make life easier for people.

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By: Olivia Mendoza

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