Author: Tronserve admin
Wednesday 28th July 2021 03:29 PM
INDUSTRIALTop 4 ways the food industry can implement IoT
Big technological breakthroughs of the past few years are causing disruptions across the economy. One of the biggest has been the rise of Internet of Things (or IoT) devices.
IoT devices — internet-connected devices that can be used to collect and store huge amounts of data about things like temperature and soil humidity — can provide a variety of benefits for businesses in the food industry. Below, we’ll cover four of the top ways IoT technology can be brought to the food industry.
1. PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE
Predictive maintenance is a popular application of IoT across industries. It works by implementing IoT devices that track and store different variables related to a given piece of machinery — like operating temperature, timing and vibrations. The IoT system then analyzes that information using advanced algorithms and historical data to effectively predict when the machine needs maintenance or is on the verge of failure.
Some preventative maintenance systems will even shut down machines that are about to fail, reducing the chance that they injure employees or damage themselves to the point of needing more extensive repairs. With this technique, it’s possible for businesses in the food industry to reduce or eliminate downtime as a result of machine failure or damage, as well as reducing the overall cost of machine maintenance. This change could provide big savings for large, industrial food processing companies as well as smaller food companies that rely heavily on single machines.
2. PROVIDE REMOTE ACCESS
One of the biggest benefits of digital and IoT-powered systems is that they can provide staff with remote access to critical systems, even if they aren’t on-site. For example, with remote access to critical systems, workers can adjust the temperature in cold storage, preventing the loss of produce and other sensitive food items to the wrong environmental conditions. Remote tech can also alert team members when a delivery of fresh produce has arrived, possibly decreasing the time that cargo would need to wait before processing and lowering the risk of theft or damage.
3. REDUCE WASTE
Huge amounts of food are wasted every year — according to the National Resource Defense Council, about 40% of food doesn’t make it from farm to table. IoT technology can be implemented in ways that reduce this level of waste. For example, IoT sensors can be placed in pallets immediately after harvest and set to track two pieces of information — time and temperature, two of the most important components when it comes to knowing how long produce has before it spoils.
When the pallets arrive at the warehouse, the team there will have a plethora of information that can be analyzed by AI-based algorithms to identify which pallets are the most likely to spoil without extra attention. The warehousing team can then provide that pallet with additional moisture or lower temperatures as necessary to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
By implementing IoT technology that reduces food waste coupled with other industrial technology that can handle things like wastewater, the food industry can cut back on overall waste, saving money and reducing resources spent on product that doesn’t make it to market.
4. IMPROVE FOOD TRACEABILITY
As markets have become more and more global — and as customers have been getting more interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it was grown — we’ve seen rapid growth in the food traceability market. This market helps food production and supply companies track and communicate how their food was grown and where.
These changes have also led to the rise of new programs — like Walmart’s Food Traceability Initiative — that require significant amounts of data to be collected by the suppliers providing Walmart with leafy greens. IoT devices can effectively automate some of this data collection, keeping track of where produce comes from, how it was transported and what kind of environmental conditions it’s been subject to. As a result, buyers can be confident in knowing where their food comes from and how it was grown.
TRAINING EMPLOYEES TO WORK WITH IOT TECHNOLOGY
As with any new technology, there’s a learning curve associated with IoT devices. Improperly managed, these devices could increase the time it takes to implement IoT solutions into the workflow. In general, it will be a good idea to involve IT staff in the training process if you expect workers to regularly interact with IoT devices or platforms. With IoT devices, workers will probably have access to more data than they’re used to. Managers should be prepared to show team members what new data is available and train them to use that data to inform planning and decision-making.
It may also be a good idea to prepare for a transition period, during which workers can adjust to the new technology, data sets can be collected and baselines can be established.
HOW THE FOOD INDUSTRY CAN IMPLEMENT IOT
IoT devices have the potential to improve a number of food industry processes. With the better data and remote access these devices provide, it can be easier for businesses in the food industry to trace food, reduce waste and better maintain critical machines and equipment. These devices, however, may require additional employee training to be effective, which means all hands on deck.