14 Mar Why the IoT is so Important for Food Suppliers
Would you trust the internet to make your food safer?
Well, there is a good chance you have already eaten food that benefited from the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT has generated a lot of buzz in the tech world, but it’s only recently started to gain traction in the food and beverage industry.
If you’re unfamiliar with this clunky term, the IoT is a network of internet-connected devices that can communicate and exchange data. In your personal life, it’s your smart TV, your fitness tracker, your smartphone, your computer, etc. In the food industry, it takes the form of GPS devices or smart sensors that can monitor food quality.
In a nutshell, the IoT allows for unparalleled monitoring of food and ingredients throughout the whole supply chain. The following are all ways in which food suppliers are benefiting from the IoT.
Bolstering Food Safety & Quality
Smart sensors are helpful for assessing the quality of ingredients and food products through a surprising number of metrics, and the technology is improving every day. The most obvious example is temperature monitoring through cold-chains, but sensors are also able to monitor moisture, color, and fruit respiration rates. This makes it easier than ever to detect spoiled foods and provide more accurate expiration dates. All these elements can be monitored in real-time, allowing a fast response to quality control issues.
Improved Tracking for Delivery and Transportation
In addition to monitoring quality in real-time, the IoT allows food suppliers to track products’ location in real-time with GPS devices. This enables companies to achieve greater efficiency in transportation, reduce deadhead miles, and respond more effectively to delays. It also ties into the earlier point of ensuring better food safety, as companies can be instantly notified when a product has been in transit for too long.
Greater Plant Efficiency
The IoT also holds great value for food manufacturing facilities. Smart sensors can monitor equipment as well as food quality at these locations. By using these devices to track equipment performance, facilities can identify issues and schedule predictive maintenance before costly breakdowns occur. Furthermore, the sensors can be utilized to monitor environmental factors that may impact food quality, such as humidity or temperature levels.
Improving Farm Efficiency
Smart sensors also offer valuable applications at the very beginning of the supply chain. On farms, these devices can measure soil moisture levels, weather conditions, crop health, and the presence of harmful pests. These monitoring technologies can then be incorporated into automated systems for irrigation, pesticide application, and more. Through the collection of more detailed data and the use of automated systems, farmers can optimize every step of their operations for maximum crop yields.
Blockchain Further Bolsters IoT Applications
Blockchain technology synergizes greatly with IoT technology as well. All the data generated by IoT devices can be stored in the blockchain. Given it’s decentralized and unified nature, this data can be readily shared between parties for seamless communication and transparency. A yogurt supplier could have open access to shipping temperatures for their products to verify they were transported properly.
Furthermore, the vast amounts of data produced by these devices can then be analyzed to further refine a supply chain for efficiency. With more data than ever before on supply chains, companies can gain insights on the process that would not have been possible otherwise.
Altogether, nearly every step of the food supply chain may be augmented in some way or another by the IoT. Early adoption of these technologies may very well prove crucial for success in today’s crowded marketplace.
The IoT is revolutionizing food supply chains. If you’d like to learn more, we invite you to join us at Manufacturing in America 2019 at Ford Field on March 20-21st. This is a unique opportunity to network with over 3,000 C-level executives in the manufacturing industry and learn about the most important new technologies in the food sector.