Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Food industry turns to IoT for supply chain traceability

Steve Rogerson
February 6, 2019



The food and beverage industry is increasingly adopting IoT technology to enable end-to-end traceability in the supply chain, according to market watcher Frost & Sullivan. Big data analytics and AI are finding significant application opportunities with more digitisation of the industry.
 
A rapidly growing urban population and increased consumer awareness regarding sustainability are prompting food and beverage companies and manufacturers to employ digital technology to ensure product quality. They have continuously invested in innovations with a focus on food processing, safety and packaging to distinguish themselves in an intensely competitive marketplace.
 
Industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are expected to play a huge role in accelerating and streamlining the manufacturing process through automation and analytics.
 
"Although a late adopter of IIoT, the food and beverage industry is showing great eagerness to digitise its assets due to the rising need for traceability," said Nandini Natarajan, senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "IIoT will allow food and beverage manufacturers to collaborate and connect across different stakeholders involved in various stages of the food value chain. It enables seamless exchange of information and goods in different directions, unlike with traditional methods where only linear, unidirectional flow was possible."
 
As it has become common to source food raw materials and ingredients from multiple vendors, the databases have become larger. Furthermore, food products travel more kilometres than before, which increases the risks of spoilage. These issues have created a strong demand for big data analytics to aid in the management of food product traits and supply value chains to enhance food safety.
 
IIoT will find wider application opportunities in this industry and vendors can make the most of this technology by:

  • Developing business models that focus on data, connectivity and customer centricity along with data security;
  • Focusing on simple, easy-to-use products and integrated end-to-end services;
  • Partnering with select third-party applications; and
  • Offering technically advanced packaging that ensure sustainability without compromising on the nutrition of the foods.
"As a first step towards digital transformation, food and beverage companies are integrating sensors directly into their legacy assets and configuring them to broadcast data to the cloud for monitoring key performance indicators and analytics," said Natarajan. "They are also employing a direct sampling procedure from automated plant equipment for real-time visibility into quality measurement. Meanwhile, some companies are investing in in-line quality data recording through inspection procedures."
 
Frost & Sullivan’s analysis identifies the ways in which IoT can be implemented across all stakeholders in the food value chain. It also examines some of the technology trends that are shaping the industry as well as the competitive landscape. Supported by use cases, it covers the prospective value of investments and the ways in which they have been distributed in the industry ecosystem.