MRO Magazine

Virtual Event
Max Uptime V2
August 29, 2023 at 1:00pm ET

Panel – How automation, robotics, and AI are transforming food manufacturing


  • Raik Meissner, VP Operations, Piller’s Fine Foods
  • Rae Jeong, Co-Founder and CEO, Laplace Robotics
  • Jeff Hetherington, Head of Project Development, Laplace Robotics
  • Alex Barlow, Vice-President, Programs, CFIN
  • Keith Robinson, Director of Engineering, Fresh Prep
  • Linda Fox, Regional Innovation Director, CFIN

    How Canadian food technology companies are helping manufacturers save time and money, while increasing output.


    Raik Meissner
    Raik grew up in Germany where he apprenticed as Butcher before he came to Canada as Co-Op student in 1993.

    After successfully completing his Engineering degree in Food-technology at the University for Applied Science in Berlin Germany, he joined Piller’s Sausages in 1996 as production management assistant. He has held several leadership positions with the company in Production, QA, Technical Services and R&D.

    In his current role he supports the operational teams in 4 processing facilities with a total of 950 employees. He’s passionate about food and the people in each facility who make the quality products for the various brands daily.

    Raik and his wife live in Elora, ON together with their daughter (22) and son (19).

    Rae Jeong
    Rae Jeong is a visionary leader and accomplished engineer, and is the Co-Founder and CEO of Laplace Robotics, a cutting-edge AI software company based in Toronto. With an unwavering passion for advancing technology, Rae has been at the forefront of groundbreaking developments in AI for Canadian Food Manufacturers.

    Prior to co-founding Laplace Robotics, Rae worked at Google DeepMind. During his time at DeepMind, Rae contributed to pioneering research and innovative projects that pushed the boundaries of artificial intelligence in vision, robotics and automation.

    Equipped with a degree in Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation from the University of Waterloo, Rae possesses a strong academic foundation that complements his practical experience in the Artificial Intelligence domain.

    As the CEO of Laplace Robotics, Rae continues to lead the company in revolutionizing the field of AI by developing cutting-edge technologies that have far-reaching implications in the food industry. His commitment to innovation, coupled with a relentless pursuit of excellence, positions Rae as a driving force in the advancement of AI for vision, robotics and automation.

    Jeff Hetherington
    Jeff is the Head of Project Development with Laplace. Prior to his current role, he was a food manufacturing professional of 25 years with some of the largest protein companies in Canada. He specialized in manufacturing operations leadership and process improvement and is Lean Six Sigma certified. As the Head of Project Development at Laplace, he is currently focused on democratizing AI for the Food Manufacturing Industry. In this role, Jeff spearheads strategic initiatives that leverage cutting-edge technology to enhance efficiency and productivity within the industry.

    Jeff is committed to unlocking the full potential of AI to drive efficiency, quality, and success in the food manufacturing industry.

    Alex Barlow
    Alexandra (Alex) Barlow is an economic development advocate and business advisor with over a decade of experience in writing, researching, and administering government incentives at both the provincial and federal levels. She loves learning about where and how disruptive products, technologies and services originate and has leveraged her curiosity into funding success for her clients, enabling hundreds of Canadian food businesses to access over $300M in government incentives.

    An avid and passionate supporter of Canadian innovation, Alex frequently presents cashflow strategies and funding best practices to business audiences. Prior work in economic development consulting and within organizations such as FedDev Ontario, Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, & Rural Affairs gives Alex considerable insight into how to support businesses so that they can contribute to the success of our country.

    Keith Robinson
    Keith Robinson is currently the Director of Engineering at Fresh Prep. Educated at UBC with a foundation in biomedical engineering, Keith began advancements in medical technology, specifically in the realm of biological heart valves for human implantation. Over the past six years, he has transitioned into the field of automation, dedicating his expertise to Fresh Prep’s automated reusable packaging solution within the meal kit industry.

    At the heart of Keith’s contributions lies the ‘Zero-Waste Kit,’ he has designed and patented. This novel creation, which lies at the core of Fresh Prep’s eco-friendly ethos, annually diverts tons of plastic waste from filling up landfills. Keith continually lends his assistance to Zero Waste’s evolution and the automation surrounding its adoption.

    Beyond his professional pursuits, Keith’s passion for rapid prototyping technology shines through. While not immersed in engineering feats, he finds quality moments with his family; and when finding free time, you’ll likely spot him engrossed in tweaking his SLA/FDM 3D printers or painting.”

    Linda Fox
    Linda’s insatiable curiosity and extensive brand marketing experience have given her a unique ability to understand the ever-changing dynamics of the consumer journey. Throughout her 15-year career in the food sector, she’s worked with major CPG and OTC brands, from developing innovative concepts to launching new products across major Canadian retail locations.

    With a focus on marrying brand strategy to consumer needs, she has a passion for seeing the process through and collaborating with varied teams along the way. Linda enthusiastically keeps up with the latest consumer and food trends to provide her clients and partners with the insight and counsel they need to successfully bring their product to market.