The expansion of global markets, the growth of international supply chains, the proliferation of regulations and a renewed consumer awareness regarding product quality have brought companies in the Seafood industry to dedicate great care in structuring cold chains which ensure safety, quality and ideal shelf life for the products they receive, distribute or sell directly.
Fish and seafood products are among those products more largely involved in improvements of Food Safety and Quality Management practices: freshness is a key element, and the support of uninterrupted and well-managed cold chains is crucial so that Seafood industry supply chains can secure Quality and Food Safety.
In the following, we outline the use case of Wenda Platform from an Italian company which imports fish and seafood from Asian markets and distributes them to its retail sales channels. The company is equipped with 3 cold storage units for seafood: two of them at -50° C dedicated to pre-processed products, one at -20° C to store processed products.
The company wants to protect its products in the stages of entrance, processing, storage, exit and transport, arranging for their undamaged arrival at destination. The company expressed the need to monitor temperature parameters remotely, managing an easily accessible set of analytical tools to gain cold chain end-to-end visibility, and hence assess integrity risks in real time, understand if processing steps are carried out correctly, determine the proper functioning of its cold storage units and learn about potential critical points in its chain.
Software and Hardware employed
Wenda is a Platform that helps to understand and navigate freshness, cold chain and traceability data along the whole supply chain. It is composed of different modules, each dedicated to an individual supply chain process: entrance, processing and storage, exit, transport.
To carry out the operation, Wenda provided the company with developed-in-house Platform and mobile App, both integrated with market available traceability systems, since the company did not have proprietary hardware. If the company had internally implemented measuring and traceability devices or systems, Wenda could have integrated them with Platform and App.
The necessary hardware components were: an infrared, Bluetooth thermometric gun (IR gun) which allows to obtain the temperature of an object by simply targeting it; USB data loggers to register and then download temperature data; wi-fi data loggers to monitor in real time the product’s temperature once stored; 2G/3G data loggers to monitor in real time the product’s localization and temperature during the transport.
Wenda Platform Module: Inbound
Before the truck leaves the premises, the Asian supplier puts the USB data loggers inside it since they are necessary to register temperature data. Once it reaches its destination in Italy, the transporter delivers the cargo to the company at a temperature of -50 °C. A Quality Control officer from the company retrieves the USB data loggers, downloads on a computer the temperature data – registered and archived during the journey – and with a simple drag & drop imports them in the Platform to analyze them later, for statistical purposes.
Aiming to detect the precise temperature of imported products in the exact moment they are delivered, the operator uses the IR gun to obtain both the temperature of th products inside the container, (2 samples: inner pallet and outer pallet), and the temperature of the container itself (3 samples: roof, inner and outer walls). In this way the operator gets an accurate indication by which he or she can decide immediately if the products are to be accepted or not – indeed, depending on the temperature detected. The connection between IR gun and smartphone (or other mobile device) allows the data acquired by the IR gun to flow automatically into the App from which, with a simple command, they are sent onto the Platform, where they are available to the Quality manager through his or her profile, together with the data from the USB data loggers. The operator can also register the appearance of the product and its packaging, including general notes and taking pictures which are stored in a wallet in cloud always available to the company.
The Platform has the advantage of creating many profiles tailored for the different company personnel, envisaging but not prescribing the possibility to give different clearance levels to data accessibility to the different professionals involved. The Quality manager and the operator can thus view in a single dashboard the temperature data of both the received products (up to 3 samples) and the truck walls (up to 3 control points), check alarm notifications for temperature anomalies in the previous transport stage, send automatic warnings via email to other managers, generate reports and statistical analyses.
Processes: Processing and cold room storage
Wenda Platform Module: Storage
Once the entrance process is completed, the company gets started with the processing: the products are positioned in two cold storage units kept at -50° C – and monitored with the wi-fi data logger to check their proper functioning – waiting to be handled. When the processing workers receive the products, an operator takes their temperature with the IR gun both at the beginning and at the end of the process – which can take from 30 to 120 minutes – to understand the scale of temperature variations that happen in this stage and make possible adjustments. Temperature data flow automatically from the IR gun to the App, from which they are sent to the Platform with a simple command.
When the processing ends, the products are placed in a cold storage unit -20 °C, inside of which wi-fi data loggers connected to App and Platform are positioned in order to launch the real-time temperature monitoring. The Platform provides managers with a dashboard to observe the temperature conditions inside the cold rooms, an alarm system to signal anomalies with the possibility to determine critical temperature thresholds, an automated email warning system directed to the Quality Control manager, in cloud document storage, reports and statistical analyses.
Data collected from wi-fi data loggers are synchronized automatically with the Platform, which allows to quickly assess the conditions of the stored products, verify the proper functioning of cold storage units, save time in Quality Control and report filing processes, optimize the compliance with Food Safety regulations and HACCP protocols.
Wenda Platform Module: Outbound
Now it is the time to prepare the shipment.
To monitor the precise temperature of the products in the exact moment they are picked up from cold storage rooms to be loaded onto transports and shipped to clients, the cold rooms operator uses the IR gun to detect temperatures of both the products (up to 2 samples: inner and outer pallet) and the truck which will be used for the transport (up to 3 samples: roof, inner and outer walls), which will be automatically communicated to the App.
The operator enters the names of products, receiving client, transporter and means of transport, and in this stage he or she can also register the product appearance and its packaging, including general notes and taking pictures. The data acquisition process ends with the completion of a Checklist regarding the preservation state of the means of transport according to HACCP protocols.
All these data are automatically sent to the Platform, to keep cold chain traceability intact and all the information available in a single point, ready to be accessed by company managers.
Wenda Platform Module: Shipment
Once the exit procedures are completed, 2G/3G real time data loggers are placed inside the truck chosen for the shipment, the containers with the products are positioned in the truck and the shipment is ready to leave for the company’s sales channels.
The Platform provides Quality Control and Sales managers with temperature data and cargo localization real-time visibility regarding the products shipped to clients. Managers receive alarm notifications with the information on where and when the temperatures exceed pre-arranged preservation thresholds and, through the Platform, they can set up automatic notifications via mail to send to transport operators and other managers in charge of the shipment.
All temperature data regarding the different processes of the supply chain – starting from those from the USB data loggers, including those from the wi-fi data loggers placed in cold storage units, up to those from the 2G/3G real time data loggers positioned in the trucks bringing products from the company to its retail sales channels – are easily accessible from a single dashboard: in doing so, you have the assurance that the cold chain has not been interrupted and you can speed up and streamline operations, enabling managers and operators to view statistics and reports, make data-driven decisions and cut Food Safety management costs, keeping all data in a single in-Cloud point.