Globalisation has opened new pathways for commerce, triggering a logistical revolution that in turn has produced a paradigm shift towards the digitalisation of supply chains, which nowadays are driven by relevant technological innovations. Among the innovations considered instrumental in enhancing global supply chains should be included IoT – which stands for Internet of Things – a valid instrument for different industries, including Food & Beverage logistics.
The digitalisation, also via the IoT, intervenes substantially in Food&Beverage monitoring and traceability, reducing costs, boosting profits and optimising processes: thanks to digital solutions, 36% of Food companies have found a reduction in time and costs related to data collection, management and transmission processes1.
These benefits are accompanied by the perks brought by data and information availability, and by the possibility to transfer value across the supply chain.
In the following, we will try to show IoT’s key features, then highlighting its applications in the Food&Beverage logistics industry, that can be reinforced with solutions enabling advanced monitoring and traceability of the whole supply chain. In conclusion, we will talk about Wenda, an Italian startup backed by European investors that offers an Information Management Hub for advanced supply chain tracking used by main Food&Beverage players, improving quality, logistics and sales.
Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at Boston’s MIT, was the first to mention the Internet of Things in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 19992.
Wanting to bring radio frequency identification (RFID) to the attention of P&G’s senior management, Ashton called his presentation “Internet of Things” to incorporate the global trend of 1999: the Internet. Although Ashton’s was the first mention of the internet of things, the idea of connected devices has been around since the 1970s, under the monikers Embedded Internet and Pervasive Computing.
Internet of Things (IoT) is “a global infrastructure for the information society, enabling advanced services by interconnecting (physical and virtual) things based on existing and evolving interoperable information and communication technologies”3.
Internet of Things (IoT) describes the proliferation of always connected devices which acquire and communicate data, and the virtual environment created by the interconnectedness of these everyday use devices.
Each device can become smart (that is, with the abilities of self-identification, localisation, status-diagnostics, data acquisition and communication, processing and implementation) and be connected through standard communication protocols. It should be borne in mind, however, that the definition of IoT is constantly evolving due to the convergence of multiple technologies such as real-time analytics, machine learning, advanced sensoristics.
It is useful to highlight some statistical data: according to IHS Markit4, the number of IoT interconnected devices will reach 125 billions by 2030, with a 12% average yearly growth rate at a global level. Bain & Company5 expects that the combined markets for the IoT, including hardware, software, systems integration, and data and telecom services, will grow to $520 billion by 2021 – more than double the $235 billion spent in 2017.
IoT can be applied to domotics, automotive, environment, Smart city, health care, but at the same time it can constitute a strategic technology for transportation and the logistics of the whole Food&Beverage supply chain. These transportation and logistical processes require constant monitoring along the whole supply chain, starting from Food production, through warehouse storing, up to the delivery to the final customer, thus involving means of transportation, warehouses and distribution centers.
Although the traditional fleet management allows for a more-or-less accurate monitoring of the means of transportation, it is not able to effectively observe products along the whole supply chain, for instance when stopovers and prolonged storages occur. In these phases, the use of an IoT infrastructure takes on much significance sinceit enables the localisation, monitoring and advanced tracking of products and transports, the interactive communication between transporters and commodity producers/distributors, the certification of deliveries and of the following stages of shipping, cold chain monitoring, and Food safety framework.
An IoT-based platform can continuously monitor the localisation and the integrity conditions of a given shipment, sending targeted alarms when issues are detected by environmental sensors (damages, delays, environmental conditions unfit for the cargo, theft attempts).
Data customisation is another advantage deriving from the employment of IoT for supply chain advanced traceability, because one can communicate only useful information on a case-by-case basis. Moreover, by increasing the difficulties in counterfeiting practices, the IoT paradigm can widely contribute to the structuring of a Food Safety framework, to the consumer’s full advantage.
Wenda, an Italian startup backed by European investors, managed to grasp the huge potential of the IoT paradigm, integrating it with other advanced technologies to offer an Information Management Hub for advanced supply chain tracking used by the main Food&Beverage actors , improving quality, logistics and sales.
It consists of a web platform that can support all Food&Beverage actors operating with perishable or sensitive products: data loggers are inserted into each box, pallet or container of any given shipment, in order to collect environmental data (geolocalisation, temperature, Food integrity); data are sent to the Wenda Information Management Hub, the web platform that aggregates, compares and processes them.
Subsequently, you can follow in real time and from a single control point the product’s conditions via advanced integrity analytics embedded in the Hub, gaining knowledge of the hazard points in the distribution chain, ensuring the best product care and enhancing internal processes.
Furthermore, the Wenda platform is equipped with both a cloud wallet of shareable journey documents and pictures, and differential data access levels: the configuration is entirely customisable according to the company’s needs and allows to share real-time shipment/storage documents, choosing which documents may be deemed accessible and whom can access them (among a list including clients, logistics, quality, sales, insurance companies and certification bodies).
Finally, in light of the IoT hardware constant evolution (in this case regarding the different data loggers commercially available), Wenda has made the Information Management Hub interoperable with the main devices, ERPs, traceability softwares and Blockchain ledgers present on the market. That way, you can be on the frontline of digital innovation and at the same time maintain your well-oiled management system.
To have further information, to know more about us or to schedule a demo of the Wenda Information Management Hub, we invite you to visit our website: https://www.wenda-it.com/.