“Applied to food safety and compliance processes and tasks, digitization leads to a simpler and smarter working environment and empowers you to manage risk, ensure ongoing compliance, and ultimately enhance end consumer satisfaction as well as protect and build your brand,” says Linders.
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Explore This IssueFebruary/March 2017
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Think about temperature monitoring. Temperature monitoring is primarily about protecting investments. Maintenance of the cold chain is a legal requirement in many countries; however, it is also an investment that maximizes the shelf life of food, thus positively impacting logistics, and ultimately customer satisfaction. Refrigeration and freezer failures can therefore be costly in terms of loss of stock, operational performance and brand reputation.
The way air temperature has been monitored in refrigerators and deep freezers has changed significantly in the last two decades. A task traditionally executed by using classic thermometers and paper logs has now evolved to automated digital systems using wireless technology and digital temperature capturing.
“Manual recording and associated documentation can now be replaced by fully automated methods and 24/7 access to reporting at your fingertips, allowing you to achieve important productivity gains: from 1 hour a day for a quick service restaurant to 6 hours a day for a hotel resort,” explains Linders.
IoT devices can also automate data recording to facilitate compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This can help determine responsibility for problems like temperature abuse that affect product safety and quality.
Additionally, IoT data can more precisely identify the products that need to be recalled and be used to expedite food recalls because searching electronic records usually requires less time than paper-based ones.
“Sooner than later, many consumers will expect all levels of the food distribution chain to implement an IoT-based risk management program,” Kronenberg says. “This will help them confirm that a product has been produced and stored properly throughout the supply chain for optimum safety and quality.”
Keeping Transportation on Track
Whether over the road, on the rails, in the air, or on the sea, IoT can help monitor and track inventories around the world. GPS devices can let dispatchers know via satellite exactly where on earth any given shipment is located and what the status is at any given moment.
FSMA’s Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule, which requires companies to have documentation processes in place to prevent food safety risks, becomes enforceable as early as April 2017. “Implementing new technology can help those affected not only meet but also exceed the FSMA/transportation rule requirements and ensure food safety best practices—all while improving return on investment,” says Angela Shue, senior vice president/general manager at PeopleNet, which offers a host of IoT solutions for the food industry.
PeopleNet has extended the IoT concept to create the Internet of Transportation Things, or IoTT, platform that integrates enterprise and mobile technologies with real-time predictive analysis, helping carriers make more impactful decisions.
“Fleets involved in transporting food throughout the supply chain journey are working to ensure products are moved safely and efficiently,” remarks Shue. “The right combination of technology products can help fleets reach this goal through improved traceability, efficient route planning, and better connectivity, helping to ensure that retailers and consumers are confident in the safety and quality of their food.”
Fleets can subscribe to specific data based on their needs, view messages, and keep tabs on their hours of service totals to meet requirements for the electronic logging device mandate, among other functions. The platform can also integrate with third-party direct-store-delivery functions so drivers and managers can monitor delivery progress in relation to customer commitments and shipper information, resulting in greater levels of safety and compliance and reduced costs.
Food companies need to also understand how to protect the business from problems that could occur. With so many devices connected to each other, one bug could wipe out multiple functions at once and bring operations to a halt.