Matt Moulton, marketing director of Monnit, a Salt Lake, Utah-based IoT solutions company, says the food industry can see a number of benefits from the IoT thanks to devices like temperature sensors and monitoring devices inside walk-in refrigerators and freezers.
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueFebruary/March 2017
Also By This Author
“When you go to the IoT, you reduce the human error factor and you get consistent, timely, and reliable data,” he says. “Connected devices provide the ability to receive alerts so if it’s after hours or people aren’t keeping track of things appropriately, you can see if something is wrong. This could make or break a company by preventing product spoilage.”
Today’s food supply chains extend around the world. As the demand for locally produced food increases, these newly emerging supply chains are layered over the global networks, thus creating even more complexity. Additionally, consumers do not consider food to be seasonal and expect greater variety and availability year round. These food chain complexities have led to a need for tight temperature controls to ensure continuous food safety within distribution centers, during transport, and at final point of sale.
“A critical innovation that has enabled monitoring of the cold chain is the in-transit temperature control system,” points out Linders. “Sealed Air’s proprietary TempTRIP solution provides temperature-monitoring services for the cold supply chain that inform companies about their temperature performance throughout the entire supply chain while giving them the ability to easily monitor, track, and analyze the results.”
Its cloud-based information structure is at the heart of the system and its tracking ability is especially relevant for food retailers because in addition to managing food safety, it also helps to guide merchandizing and reduce food waste.
When it comes to quality control, Kronenberg notes that since many fresh products must be maintained within a specified temperature range, a processor can utilize IoT data to prove that its products were stored properly throughout the supply chain. These products may also have a longer shelf life, which makes them more valuable.
For example, chicken must be stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and not below 26 degrees for food safety, so companies that can objectively verify that their fresh-labeled chicken has been stored in this temperature range may be able to command a premium price for their product.
Bountiful Benefits for Food Industry
Food safety issues consistently appear on the front pages each year and sadly not for positive reasons. Millions of Americans get sick every year due to foodborne illness. Annually, foodborne illnesses cost the U.S. economy more than $15.6 billion, according to the USDA. And most food safety experts say the average cost of a food recalls is around $10 million.
The IoT can improve this situation because knowledge is power. The beauty of the digital technology is its user-friendliness and its capacity to seamlessly pair tasks with complementary information.
“On-the-job training is an excellent illustration. For example, digital food safety HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) systems can offer video and interactive online training embedded in the HACCP checklists so that employees can brush up on information as they perform their daily tasks,” Linders says. “Empowering staff with knowledge is an important step in increasing food safety culture through understanding why cleaning and sanitation is essential.”
Another example of how technology can improve your food safety culture is access to data. With the help of the modern digital systems, teams can learn more effectively and managers can access operational data 24/7 on secure digital cloud storage. Up-to-date, easy-to-access systems enable managers to take corrective actions proactively when necessary. Risk-based customizations, such as alerts via texts or emails, further enable active oversight and teamwork.