If you’re in the food business, how long has it been since you checked the temperature of your fridges? More than four hours and you’ve breached Australian Food Standards safety regulations. If a fridge failed, would you find out in time to save your produce, and ensure none of your customers are affected? Overnight power outage, and the odds are against you.
Enter the snappiest new gadget in the commercial kitchen – an IoT (Internet of Things) connected sensor. Sensors are placed in commercial refrigeration systems to monitor and report the status and temperature of refrigeration equipment, sending updates to a designated smartphone.
The Internet of Things (IoT), the connectivity of the Internet with everyday objects around us, is emerging before our eyes. By 2020 it’s estimated there will be between 20 and 50 billion ‘connected things’ worldwide, according to Rand Europe. Its appeal is the aim to make our lives safer and easier.
Applying IoT technology to food safety is the main business of product and development services company CCP Technologies Limited, “The initial commercial application for our product is temperature monitoring and we can track things like humidity, chemical composition and shock,” CEO Adam Gallagher says. “Improved product quality, product safety, integrity and ease of compliance and predictive asset management are the key outcomes for our clients.”
4.9% of refrigerated coolers and freezers in businesses will suffer a complete failure each year. “However, your fridges don’t need to completely fail to cause a major business problem, be it compromising the safety and quality of the stored product, opportunity cost of lost revenue from wasted product or excessive power bills”, says Adam.
Some 4.1 million Australians suffer food poisoning each year, despite there being strict regulations around food refrigeration for any business that sells perishable food to the public. Adam explains that, “Requiring businesses to manually check temperatures every four hours and relying on the fridges to ‘check themselves’ is suboptimal for consumers and business. We have the technology available to provide an auditable, automated and complete third party temperature history of perishable produce across its many custodians in the the supply chain.“
Given the onerous task of manually logging temperatures, and the consequences of getting it wrong, it’s hard to imagine any fresh food business that wouldn’t benefit from a low-cost 24/7/365, real-time temperature monitoring and notification system. According to research group Gartner, smart appliances will be offering food and beverage companies 15% in annual cost savings by 2020.
“We aim to work from farm to plate”, says Adam. “Ideally, we have our sensors installed end to end, in every fridge used to transport fresh produce – be it meat, dairy or fruit and veg. Our market is growing with community expectations about the quality and freshness of the food we consume. If you bite into a soft apple then its likely been partially cooked somewhere in the supply chain through exceeding its temperature envelopes. This should become a thing of the past when industry broadly adopts continuous third party monitoring solutions.”
CCP were one of Vodafone’s first NB-IoT customers in Australia. “As Vodafone continues to roll out its Narrowband Internet of Things we expect to use it increasingly as we expand domestically and overseas,” says Adam. “We are, and we intend to continue to take advantage of Vodafone’s global NB-IoT platform for our current and future products.”
The CCP monitors are even suitable for wet environments (think a tray of oysters), feature on-board processing and storage powered by a re-chargeable battery that lasts up to 3 years. Operating a ‘hub and spoke model’, each fridge needs its own device that communicates with a hub that pushes the data to the cloud through Vodafone’s NB-IoT network.
If there are any issues, and you’re off-site, you’ll know about it in minutes.
“Our biggest competition is still ‘do it the old way’, which is manually checking fridges,” says Adam. “This is not just labour intensive, it is unreliable and costly. Our systems are continuously reporting, pushing data to the cloud every 10 minutes. If there is an issue at 2am, alerts are sent to predetermined receivers that can then act to save the produce rather than turn up to work the next day to not only lose the value of the produce, though also suffer the associated lost revenue and general business disruption.”
Headquartered in Melbourne, CCP employs 35 staff and its customers include supermarkets, clubs, restaurants and bars. “Presently we have 1600 units out there and we’re are on the cusp of major enterprise roll-outs.”
Each CCP sensor unit operating with Vodafone NB-IoT technology can fit in the palm of your hand. “We have a product suite that includes affordable ‘plug and play’ models that we will soon be selling online and installed by the customer,” Adam explains. “We also have an in-house development team that can take an IoT project from concept to prototype in 6 to 8 weeks.
“Our central theme is to stick to projects that are good for humanity, like safety and health, minimising wastage and improving business and social productivity. We have just begun extending our commercial applications to extreme temperature monitoring and shipment monitoring that goes well beyond food. In the future we’ll be offering a broad range of IoT products and leveraging on the innovative protocols like Vodafones NB-IoT network is central to the delivery of our solutions.”
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