Traceability and the IoT
By Jordan Anderson*
Wednesday, 15 March, 2017
Redefine your food management across your supply chain with the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT is changing the way restaurants do business in 2017. Today, owners can trace a product from point of purchase to their doorstep using IoT devices that monitor its location and, more importantly, its temperature along the way. These devices are helping to keep food safe, streamline inventory management and give owners the real-time information they need when managing multiple locations.
Monitoring food safety
Nothing gets the attention of a restaurant owner quicker than a foodborne illness outbreak. When it happens, they need to know which products were involved.
IoT devices allow owners to track their food from the time they order to when it arrives. Even in the back of a tractor-trailer rolling down the highway, owners can check to see the temperature of their food and have the data trail later to see when it was handled along its journey to ensure safety standards were met.
This data is especially important since the US federal government enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, which intends to protect public health by reinforcing the US food safety program. Food-based businesses are now required to establish preventive control systems modelled after HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) guidelines and prove their compliance by maintaining at least two years of documentation.
Traceability measures utilising the IoT efficiently gather and manage this information, giving owners the peace of mind they need to ensure their food has been handled properly. Not only that, but they have the data to prove it.
Inventory control and management
IoT devices help manage the cost of inventory by providing the real-time data owners need when ordering stock and forecasting needs based on their menu. The data collected by the IoT devices ensures the freshest ingredients are available for dishes and expired products are disposed of properly.
Tracking inventory from farm-to-fork prevents food waste, deters in-house theft and helps manage the cost of inventory.
IoT devices and temperature control
Utilising the IoT is a critical aspect of quality control. These devices come equipped with a temperature probe, barcode scanner and RFID infrared temperature reader that monitors and tracks your food throughout its journey in the supply chain.
Here’s how it works:
- The probe, infrared and RFID scanner track and measure the temperature of each product.
- The IoT software prompts employees to complete checklists, including temperature checks on a regular basis.
- Each time the data is collected, it is immediately uploaded to a secure cloud and accessible anytime, from anywhere.
- While in the cloud, you can customise, store, filter and analyse the information.
- Users are alerted immediately should any missed steps take place, like non-observed items, missed checklists and violations, as well as any corrective actions that address temperature concerns.
Should an issue arise, you have the detailed, automated audit trail to prove your company followed proper food safety protocol.
IoT devices can create modern dining experiences
Aside from helping streamline and manage day-to-day operations, IoT devices can create a unique dining experience for your customers.
For example, if you love seafood, some restaurants are using IoT devices to track where and when seafood is harvested. One example of this kind of initiative is the Boat-to-Plate project, funded by a grant from the Mid-Coast Fishermen’s Association. This project developed an app for anglers to upload information regarding their catch. Restaurant owners are using IoT information like this to create unique dining experiences.
IoT and you
How do you plan to use IoT technology in 2017? Integrating IoT practices give your business the food safety solution needed to help keep food safe, improve supply chain traceability, manage your inventory and gain better control over your bottom line.
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