Sustainability is growing concern in Food industry. It is faced with increasing concern regarding raw materials and ingredient sourcing due to negative effects of climate change. There is constant pressure from different stakeholders to reduce energy and water footprint, minimize waste, curb emissions, conserve resources, preserve biodiversity, care for livelihood of farmers and increase food production to feed the growing population. For example, food production accounts for 18% of total GHG emissions in India and food processing and packaging industry shares almost 30% of it.i As a result, there is growing need for all food product manufacturers to have strategic goals in place to work for more sustainable food production. Electronics and Information Technology have always played its part in achieving strategic goals and there is potential to contribute to sustainability initiatives as well.
How can IOT help?
IoT constructs a world in which its key tenet is sustainable initiatives. It is a network of connected technologies with growing impetus on every facet of business function. Enabling communication using IOT drives efficiency when used in a strategic way for all different business functions. In manufacturing, the IoT is already having a major impact. In a 2015 survey of 600 manufacturing companies by supply chain 24×7, 97% of manufacturing businesses believed it to be the most significant technology change of the last decade. 83% were planning to use it within the next.ii
How would an IOT enabled network across the supply chain help the food industry to solve some of the inherent problems? Some of the notable use of IOT for sustainability include:
Optimum Inventory Level: Equipped with sensors, low levels of supplies trigger a communication to the suppliers or farming and transportation systems, signaling them to deliver the optimal level of feedstock to replenish inventory and reduce unnecessary material waste.
Coherent Processing: Sensors continuously update how and where a sourced raw material is grown which helps in optimizing processing parameters in real time to deliver consistent and reliable output. For example, adjusting heat treatment according to the moisture content.
Predictive maintenance: Most maintenance so far has been reactive or preventive but by implementing equipment monitoring using sensors, actuators, and communication modules with Big Data Analytics, you can predict issues before they happen, saving you time and money and extending equipment’ life.
Efficient Transportation: With highly connected supply chain using RFID, GPS and predictive analytics, raw materials and final food products can be transported via the fastest, most efficient route possible by analyzing data from weather patterns and real-time driving and traffic conditions.
Improved Traceability: The greatest impact further down the line is likely to be in warehouse and distribution management where connected devices make it easier to trace and monitor the condition of the products (for example temperature, moisture etc.) within factory and on their way to the customer; helping to regulate ambient conditions in a dynamic environment so that perishable food doesn’t get wasted.
Capacity Building: IOT has the potential to channel a second green revolution by providing data to farmers to help them make better and more informed decisions to increase their productivity. When nutrients in the soil (using optical sensors), humidity, solar radiation etc., (using meteorological sensors) are known, the use of chemical products such as fertilizers, herbicides and products can be reduced. This opens the doorway for the industry to establish long-term partnerships with farmers by building their capacity to enlist IOT data into their workflows.
Benefits of using IOT for sustainability
IoT combines connectivity with sensors and devices to enable free-flowing conversation between software and hardware. There are many benefits derived from using the IOT to drive sustainability initiatives:
Reduced energy consumption and GHG emissions via process optimization and efficient transportation
Less equipment downtime and better asset utilization leading to equipment life extension and resource conservation
According to UNDP, around 40% of food produced in India gets wasted across the supply chain.iii Minimizing food waste by maintaining the optimum level of stock and monitoring the condition of food products during transportation and storage not only save cost but contribute to food security of India
Developing partnerships with farmers via capacity building not only insure raw material security but enhances corporate reputation as well
A brighter, fairer and more prosperous future for all is within reach if we can realize the potential of IoT, data, and connectivity.
Challenges to be addressed
Each new technology brings along with it certain set of challenges and IOT is not immune to it. For all of the opportunities that IoT offers, there are some challenges that companies need to address before they adopt IoT in full measure –
How can EY assist you?
As introducing IOT in business processes comes with several challenges, EY can advise on developing just the right system suitable for your business need. EY brings in a multidisciplinary team to help its clients navigate through the façade of this new connected world. EY provides advisory services to organizations that are interested in leveraging the power of IOT for sustainability in the following areas –
Evaluate the potential of IOT to drive sustainability initiatives in different business areas
Assessment of the existing system across the value chain to identify the data to be captured
Map the right set of technologies to fulfill the requirements
Cost-benefit analysis of recommended technologies to find the best suited for the purpose
Develop metrics based on data collected to measure the value created
Integrate data from multiple sources to uncover the full potential of the system
Make certain that right policy and procedures are in place to support the massive data use
Conduct real-time monitoring for reliability and accuracy of critical data elements
i https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5268357/ accessed 27th Jan 2018
ii http://www.supplychain247.com/article/how_the_internet_of_things_is_transforming_manufacturing_today accessed 26th Jan 2018
iii http://thecsrjournal.in/food-wastage-in-india-a-serious-concern/ accessed 28th Jan 2018