From the field to the supermarket: groceries usually have to travel long distances before they end up in the consumers’ shopping cart. And that doesn't always go smoothly: around a third is lost or spoiled during transport. How the Internet of Things (IoT) reduces food waste.
The salmon from Alaska was en route to Germany for two days. First in a ship and then a truck. When the fish arrived in Germany, however, the entire delivery had spoiled. The reason: the refrigeration in the truck had broken down for two hours – but nobody noticed.
It’s not an isolated case: According to Welthungerhilfe, a non-profit that fights global hunger, one third of the food produced worldwide is lost or spoiled during transport. The reasons: The transport is delayed, the load is stolen or it’s not properly cooled along the way. The consequences: High costs for the transport companies – and an unnecessary waste of food. And this despite the fact that, according to the World Hunger Index 2018, people are still suffering from hunger in 51 countries around the world.
AVOID LOSSES IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN WITH IOT
Sensitive goods such as foodstuffs can also be effectively protected while on the move at a comparatively low cost – with a supply chain digitalized through IoT. Low-cost tracking devices can monitor food deliveries in real time – seamlessly, from the field to the supermarket. Networked sensors installed in the trackers measure data such as location, temperature or pressure and send it to the Cloud by radio signal. The tracker transmits the digital data via energy-saving wireless technology such as NarrowBand IoT. This keeps the energy consumption of the devices low. Intelligent trackers such as the so-called "bees" of the US logistics company Roambee function worldwide. The Roambee trackers last 90 days if there’s one report per hour. If you need less information, you can even work with the same battery for several years.
NETWORKED SENSORS SAVE FOOD
The trackers transform the readings into valuable data and help to continuously optimize the supply chain. The compact devices are with the goods during the entire delivery – either in the container or on the pallet. The logistics company can thus check in real time whether the intended supply chain is being adhered to or whether there are any deviations. If data deviates from the defined standard – for example, if the temperature rises or the truck needs longer than planned for a defined route because it is stuck in a traffic jam – the sensors can send an alert. This enables logistics companies to react immediately to unforeseen developments. Thanks to M2M communication, it’s also possible to adjust the temperature via the tracker or calculate a new route so that the delivery doesn’t spoil along the way.
The transport and logistics industry views digitalization as an opportunity: According to the 2018 Digitalization Index, which techconsult published on behalf of Deutsche Telekom, digitalization is an integral part of the business strategy of 45 percent of German logistics companies. And it's well worth it: thanks to the digital networking of production facilities and vehicles, 87 percent of the companies surveyed were able to reduce their costs. To stay competitive, it’s also important for small and medium-sized logistics companies to invest in digital solutions.
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Connected mobility and industry-specific IoT know-how are the topics of choice for Daniel Kunz when he writes articles for the blog. He has been with T-Systems since 2017 and is extensively involved with the Internet of Things and all the associated trends.