Internet of Things (IoT) as the network of interconnected devices and sensors that has seen its great potentials been utilized in the food industry. Internet of Things can potentially connect the supply chain of the food industry to real-time data. The nature of interconnected devices and sensors creates vast opportunities for the food processors, food suppliers and retailers in the area of improved operational efficiency, food safety, traceability and transparency across the supply chain. In the recent years of Internet of Things development, we can see how the Internet of Things is transforming the food industry from raw materials, production, warehousing and delivery of finished goods to consumers. We will be examining thoroughly the 4 key transformations in the food industry from the farm-to-plate supplies chain operations:
- Better Food Safety
The application of IoT technologies act as the enabler of better food safety. For example, the interconnected of devices and sensors enabling the data communication and collection to be executed autonomously; ranging from tracking of raw materials to the production activities by food processors and up to delivery of finished goods to consumers. The automated collection of data ensures the contamination of food from farm-to-plates supplies is minimized. Therefore it ensures food processors and manufacturers abide strictly to the compliance of food safety regulations such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) checklists and the practicality of food safety solutions.
Food industry emphasizes strongly in the area of food contamination during food production up to delivery of finished gods to the consumers. The application of sensors in the Internet of Things system for monitoring temperature, humidity, and the detection of heavy metal and carbon dioxide serve as early warning detector of food hazards and signs of food contamination.
Another practical illustration on the application of Internet of Things such as wearable IoT devices with temperature monitoring capability; it enables the food processors and manufacturers to track and monitor the temperature of their production workers in real-time. The functionality of this IoT device can be used by food manufacturers to ensure their production workers are fit to work.
- Improving Efficiency Across Supply Chain
The implementation of Internet of Things in the food industry has enabled the monitoring and tracking of raw materials for production to be automated linked with the demand from consumers in real-time. The food manufacturers are able to order and maintain the optimum quantity of raw materials needed for their production driven by demand from consumers in real-time has created a huge improvement in the operational efficiency. The improving operational efficiency enables food manufacturers to reap its benefit and contributed to the improving cash flow and financial position of the food manufacturers.
The interconnected devices and sensors which convey data in real-time enables the maintenance of machinery to be automated and the food manufacturers are able to adopt the predictive maintenance approach for their machineries. The maintenance team is able to work on an automated schedule of their machineries derived from the data generated and analysed. Therefore it minimizes the downtime of machines and reduced production lead time due to breakdown of machines. The predictive maintenance creates the opportunity for cost saving in the daily operational in the manufacturing plants of a food manufacturers. By implementing the IoT technologies into production and operation, the food processors and manufacturers are capable of monitoring the state of all food products. The Internet of Things with its interconnected devices and sensors enable the sharing of information in real-time for relevant parties to achieve efficiency and effective resources planning and management. Therefore the Internet of Things has created a huge opportunity for the food manufacturers to be more competitive by deriving the benefits from cost saving and improved operational efficiency. It is crucial for a food manufacturer to implement the Internet of Things in their digital transformation journey to ensure sustainability of their business.
- Traceability & Transparency
The application of IoT in the food industry enables the suppliers across the supply chain to achieve high level of traceability and transparency. The usage of IoT devices and sensors which are interconnected and capable of conveying data in real-time provides the foundation for high level of traceability on occurrence of food hazards and issue of food contamination along each point of the food supply chain. Hence the food processors and manufacturers is able to react in a timely manner for any findings within the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) checklists. By having such high level of traceability in the context of IoT application across the food supply chain; the food processor and manufacturer is able to exemplify the level of transparency expected by the modern day consumers.
In this era of widely available information in the internet world and feeding the consumers almost instantly; consumers expect a high level of transparency to be displayed by the food processors and manufacturers in order for them to remain loyal to the brand. A brand also needs to operate in such high level of traceability of transparency to attract new customers. Brand loyalty is highly correlated with the level of transparency displayed by the brand.
Therefore the level of traceability and transparency enabled by the IoT applications plays such a crucial part in the business and their brand building as well.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”Warren Buffet
- Effective Cold Chain Management
In the food industry, cold chain logistics remain as one of the most important parts in the delivery of raw materials to food processor and delivery of finished perishable goods to retail outlets before reaching the consumers. The conventional way of tracking and monitoring the temperature of cold chain logistics in manual approach and done during on-board by the cold chain provider. It is able to address an issue once the problem area has been detected. However It does not provide any preventive measures for the cold chain providers and most of the time the food supplier needs to bear heavy cost of losses of their perishable goods due to undetected problem or unnoticed temperature changes during the delivery pf their goods. The application of IoT sensors in cold chain logistics for real-time temperature tracking and monitoring enables the cold chain management to be handled effectively.
Real-time temperature tracking and monitoring will be able to alert the food suppliers periodically any changes of the temperature during the transportation of their food products to the warehouse or retail outlets. Therefore the food supplier is able to identify any contamination of their food products almost instantly due to changes of temperature during the delivery and take immediate action. In the same time, the cold chain provider is able to take preventive maintenance of their cold chain facilities to minimize their losses due to liability claims from their customer, the food supplier which utilises their cold chain services.
The presence and adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to revolutionize the food industry in the latest technological development. The vast opportunities of reaping the benefits in IoT applications for the food industry are not to be missed by any food suppliers across the supply chain.