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6 ways the IoT is making waves in food safety management

IoT is playing a revolutionary role in the food supply chain.

According to recent research, the Internet of Things (IoT) is playing an even bigger role in food safety management, revolutionising tracking and traceability to logistics.

In an increasingly globalised world, food supply chains, safety issues surrounding food supply and production are becoming more complex.

The demands and expectations of both consumers and regulatory bodies mean that technological innovations must and are moving quickly to ensure the highest standards of food safety management.

A recent white paper, produced collaboratively by Rentokil Initial and Quocirca, IoT in the Food Supply Chain, explains how the IoT is a driving force in this space, and here are six ways it’s making a difference.

1. End-to-end tracking and traceability of goods with IoT

The white paper found that the greatest area of opportunity (in terms of technology in food safety management) lies in end-to-end tracking and traceability of goods across the entire supply chain.

Such an approach can afford businesses many capabilities, including quickly discovering the origins of contamination in the supply chain for example, who may be liable, and how to avoid future outbreaks.

This was certainly the case for Victoria-based tomato processor Kagome. The use of RFID tags and GPS technology among others to collect data let Kagome reach previously unattainable heights of transparency throughout its entire processing cycle, and also helped mitigate threats on the tomato supply.

2. Data for accurate predictions

The ability to analyse big data brought about by the IoT allows the game-changing opportunity to accurately predict future issues. To increase food security for example, a combination of information available through your supplier, pest control company and your own data (plus things like the weather forecast) can help you foresee potential pest infestations, allowing you to formulate an action plan before the problem happens.

Chicago started using predictive analytics to deal with rat-infested areas of the city two years ago, to the extent that potential breeding grounds have been cleaned up seven days ahead of a rodent infestation.

3. Environmental control

IoT technology has already improved standards of environmental control in food production and storage.

Advanced methods of analysis and detection can identify possible environmental problems before they arise. Sophisticated sensor technology with the capacity to detect pests and trigger traps is an example of how the IoT is aiding environmental control in farming today.

4. Inventory management

IoT application can help businesses better manage and improve the cost of inventory by providing real-time data to enable better decision-making when ordering stock and forecasting needs. This in turn can ensure:
- The freshest ingredients are available (managers can be notified when food products are about to expire and need to be disposed of).
- Better prevention of food waste (by tracking inventory from farm to fork).

Refrigeration monitoring, for example, reduces waste by alerting businesses when temperatures pass predetermined thresholds.

5. Automated reporting for compliance

Besides fostering a paperless work environment, the IoT can also help businesses provide seamless, accurate, timely reports to regulators (and shareholders), reducing work hours and errors on essential administrative tasks.

Smart sensors and connected devices simplify the detailed monitoring and record keeping required by legislation. They are also using pre-loaded HACCP checklists to maintain continuous data on food through the production, manufacturing, transportation and storage stages.

6. Optimising logistics

The implications of big data and the IoT are obvious in food logistics. Analytics can provide indications of how certain logistical procedures can be optimised for timeliness and cost-efficiency.

According to experts, connected devices can also potentially prevent machine malfunctions and perfect processes through data analysis.

Conclusion

From design to distribution, the IoT has seemingly endless applications which can transform food safety, minimise waste and contamination, while affording businesses' greater capabilities to manage compliance and transparency.

Is your business IoT ready?

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Published
1st August 2017
Author
Kathryn Bush, Research & Innovation, Rentokil
Categories
Big Ideas, IoT, Own Time
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IoT and the Food Supply Chain

Is Australia ready to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution? Download our white paper summarising key findings and opportunities in the food industry.