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Why IoT sensors are the food supply chain’s missing link

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Producers work tirelessly to ensure quality, yet once their product is on the truck, it’s at the mercy of the freight company. Fortunately, IoT sensors can help reduce guesswork and waste throughout the supply line.

Fisherman on boat

In the food industry, quality control is everything. From sourcing to serving, any number of touchpoints might compromise the product. And the stakes are high: Foodborne illnesses resulting from improper handling can harm current customers, turn new ones away and wreak havoc on a brand’s image.

Producers have strict processes and controls in place to ensure quality, but once their product is out of sight, it traditionally has been out of their control. “As soon as the product leaves their hands, they are relying on a third-party logistics partner and the supply chain to treat the product the way it needs to be treated,” says Jennifer Gibbings, Verizon’s global manager for Internet of Things product development. “That doesn’t always happen.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 was enacted to get shippers, loaders, carriers and anyone who receives food to track and monitor products, in an effort to ensure freshness and quality throughout the entire supply chain. IoT sensors can help businesses better address these regulations.

Food sensor next to fish

As soon as the product leaves their hands, producers are relying on a third-party logistics partner and the supply chain to treat the product the way it needs to be treated. That doesn’t always happen. 

Jennifer Gibbings, Verizon’s global manager for Internet of Things product development


Using IoT technology to close the food shipping gap

IoT sensors allows businesses to monitor temperature-sensitive products in transit. These advanced sensors and a connected network give shippers a competitive advantage — monitoring quality and providing transparency throughout the supply chain.

Small businesses particularly can benefit from this solution, given they are held to the same regulatory standards as larger producers. These companies can ill afford a lost customer due to spoilage or shipping delays; one bad batch can have a catastrophic impact. Via a combination of temperature monitoring, real-time alerts, and data collection and analytics, IoT sensors provides peace of mind for every stakeholder in the journey.

Proof points on food industry

Here’s a look at the 5 key elements of IoT technology that can drive impact for businesses:

1. GPS location tracking: Knowing where the shipment is and how long it sits at a particular location. If a driver must stray from the planned route, the shipper will know and can reset expectations with customers if necessary.

2. Environmental monitoring: Monitoring the temperature of stored and transported products, and receiving alerts if the temperature deviates from the desired range. Sensors also monitor motion, tilt, vibrations and any sudden shocks that could damage the product.

3. Real-time alerts: Receiving notifications when products leave a location, when they arrive and when environmental conditions put them at risk. Shippers can set sensor thresholds for geographic range and environmental conditions.

4. Expectation management: Demonstrating to customers your commitment to delivering peak-quality products by using advanced technology they can rely on. If an issue arises, the information to assess where and why the problem arose is readily accessible.

5. Data collection: Addressing FSMA requirements for tracking, temperature control and record-keeping. Use the collected data to uncover insights about the supply chain, analyze trends and assess the impact on future shipments.

“Our Internet of Things sensor technology fits perfectly with the idea of preventing contamination instead of responding to it,” says Gibbings. “By getting near real-time information, you’re able to respond and intervene to course correct before there’s a serious loss. It can help businesses protect their brand and revenue, but most importantly, it gives them a way to track food quality.”

How can a nickel-sized sensor help stop food poisoning? Find out how.

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