Businesses continue to demand easy access to larger, more detailed quantities of data because the initial capture of information on products and areas of the supply chain only scratches the surface of business opportunities that data can provide. There are vast amounts of untapped value from many resources that can drive forward strategic success, and businesses can monetize their data through intelligent IoT deployments, particularly within the cold chain retail environment.
Achieving value with context
IoT sensors enable companies to collect and store data across all departments and in a range of parameters. To improve business operations in the long term, context must be added. The process must move past simple information collation into a cloud-based database to an environment that revolves around edge computing systems that strive towards a profitable purpose. For instance, within the cold chain retail environment, this sort of application is used to convert data from sensors into actionable processes that work to reduce food waste, improve food quality and transform energy consumption.
Cold chain benefits
For food retailers, the ability to analyze data effectively on site through edge computing can be profitable. By gaining insight into the operational performance and temperatures of fridges in real time, cold chain managers can make informed and intelligent decisions that affect both the company and its customers. For example, immediate action is crucial to prevent food waste due to a faulty refrigerator. IoT deployments that react instantly to temperature sensor readings equip managers to reduce damages and costs from food recalls.
Integrating real-time analytics with predictive analytics of historical performance data provides businesses with the knowledge of when machinery is likely to fail before it does, which keeps food retailers one step ahead. By having this awareness, operational efficiency can be improved and initial problems can be addressed before they cause major issues. With equipment manufacturers intelligently brought into the loop and edge computing analysis suggesting suitable times for check-ups, businesses can avoid the shut down and repair step of machinery altogether.
The opportunities that arise from data are exciting, but there are still a number of areas to consider in detail for the deployment of IoT to be successful. As a business, ownership of data is something that needs additional thought. The supermarket, cold chain suppliers and the company that deployed the sensors clearly have ownership of the operational data. But can the product manufacturer lay claim to the product’s performance data as well? Additionally, data needs to be packaged in a way that is both secure and provides value to a specific third party. How is the additional data context to be added, and by whom?
However, the promise of IoT has so far been its downfall, with businesses expecting to be able to transmit large data sets to a central point for analysis — something that is simply not possible, even with the bandwidth of 5G and similar. Even though IoT was meant to leverage data to drive local decisions and improve local performance, it’s simply creating another huge resource at a central point that at best adds to the depth of overall business intelligence. To take full advantage of IoT deployments, retailers must embrace edge computing and ensure analysis specifically focuses on clear missions, such as eliminating food waste within the cold chain.
To be able to truly monetize IoT to benefit the cold chain and create true value, it is fundamental to layer data sources over the original insight that is provided by sensors. A variety of aspects must be taken into consideration, such as the implementation of an effective data model and the provision of context and succinct business direction to ensure IoT can become the compelling new value stream that businesses are crying out for.
It’s the interconnection that will be crucial for cold chain success and sustainability on top of that. Supermarkets and cold chain stakeholders can move beyond simple data collection to overhauling customer safety, dramatically lowering risks from food spoilage and ultimately improving their supply chain and business operations.
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