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Why and How of IoT for OEMs in the Food Industry
With a growing population, as well as environmental factors affecting food production practices, farm and food production output need to increase to keep pace with demands. Implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology, in support of efficiencies and transparency in food supply chain, is smartening the whole food industry.
Application of Precision Agriculture and Digital Agriculture technologies (IoT technologies) are vital for real-time monitoring of crops in achieving greater yields as well as identifying the best locations for food production and processing. The data gathered through this monitoring will feed through the food supply chain entities (from farm to fork) and affect numerous industries beyond core agriculture production.
With the help of IoT, food processors and suppliers work together to reduce maintenance costs, uncover opportunities, influence productivity, and transparently track the supply chain.
- Food producers need to increase yields to keep pace with demands. Environmental monitoring coupled with the precise and timely application of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and water leads to increased yields and high-quality.
- Food life science industries (producers of fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, herbicides) are trying to streamline supply-chains to produce and deliver the right product and create new advisory services for clients at the right time.
- Food manufacturing and processing companies need stable, high-quality, reliable sources of raw materials. Global food manufacturers require their suppliers to adopt precision agricultural technologies to create reliable data to support Factory Automation and master scheduling systems.
- Logistics companies involved in the transportation of food need to adopt real-time monitoring of cargo and store detailed traceability records.
- Food retail entities need to use the data aggregated across the food chain to provide greater transparency into the food they sell to their consumers. The food manufacturer, which caters to retail and foodservice customers, is heavily investing in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), mobility and analytics solutions, among other cutting-edge technologies, as part of its drive to achieve operational excellence along with a top-quality product.
Role of HPE OEM
According to a new market research report from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, the move toward healthier and more convenient options is an opportunity for OEMs. The report, called 2017 Trends in Food Processing Operations, reveal that markets, channels, and technologies are changing the way consumers will purchase food over the next 15 years, which may bring significant change to manufacturing and sourcing.
To meet consumer demands, food processors need to reformulate products by using healthier sustainable ingredients, adding proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants to food, and labeling products as allergen free, gluten free, non-GMO, or organic and antibiotic free. Not surprisingly many of these machines are not updated and therein lies the opportunity for OEMs. According to the report, over half of the food manufacturers use customized equipment and look to the OEM for integration.
Many of HPE’s existing OEM clients are active in the food production area. Farm equipment industries would be an excellent target, as well as Life science (Agri-chemical) companies who own precision agricultural technique and wish to develop services as a new revenue stream via their channels. The Industrial Internet of Things will improve the end-user experience and create new revenue streams for OEMs. OEMs will use data and analytics across the complete product lifecycle. Such a digital thread will enable better initial design, smoother operation, and efficient maintenance in a closed loop.
What's catapulting IoT above the level of hype are the changes people already see in the enabling technology. Low-cost sensors and field devices embedded with inexpensive microprocessors are proliferating in automated manufacturing, while cloud computing and the related software-as-a-service (SaaS) is delivering the infrastructure of analytics and data management to food and beverage processors that couldn’t rationalize the cost of conventional systems.
As an example, software on food processing equipment monitors temperature, run analytics on it and predict temperature scenarios based on a statistical model. OEM’s are involved in designing equipment that sends an alarm to operators to ensure action takes place. The same could be true for an OEM running a remote monitoring and predictive service for customers related to critical end user operations. Key areas include:
Condition monitoring- Animal monitoring, monitoring of warehouses, post-harvest, and storage are the potential areas. Asset tracking of food supplies across the food chain helps in avoiding wastage of food.
Trading and brokering of data- This is a key area to develop new revenue streams. The data gathered across the supply-chain is of interest to wider set of industry players like insurance, finance, government and regulatory bodies
Edge computing application- Another opportunity for HPE OEM where software companies are developing analytics which consumes data from sensors and trigger an outcome.
Key Applications of Using the Internet of Things in Food Industry
Connecting to the cloud improves global manufacturing processes and shows where the business stands to grow. Food suppliers are offering smart ways to stay connected and spot opportunities using IoT. At food production level key applications are ingestion and analysis of sensors, environmental data at ground level and drone-based hyper-spectral image analysis (locally analyzed as too expensive to be sent to the cloud). Animal health monitoring to optimize yields. Asset tracking and monitoring across supply-chain. From sensors to cameras, IoT is helping food processors influence production and food safety, helps spot pathogens before a potential outbreak or recall. Most maintenance is reactive or preventive, but not predictive. By implementing remote equipment monitoring, we can predict issues before they happen saving time and money.
In the precision agricultural space, a lot of companies are active, especially equipment providers. YARA, AGCO, John Deere, Trimble, CNH Industrial are leaders in this area. IBM, Microsoft, and SAP are also involved in cloud-based data analytics. The trend is to implement more edge compute offerings basically, the data gathered from drone-based sensors become so huge that the economics of sending everything to the cloud doesn’t make sense. Associated with that, is to have strong edge analytics packages tailored to specific crops and animal environments that can sit on an edge device.
HPE is leading some of this development with Purdue Research at the moment. Based at Purdue’s 1,408-acre Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) field research station, the Smarter AG project captures terabytes of data daily by using multiple types of sensors, cameras, and human inputs. To gather, aggregate, process and transmit this data back to Purdue’s HPE supercomputer, the University is leveraging a combination of Aruba wireless solutions for mobile connectivity and HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems for compute. The result is an agriculture-centric IT infrastructure including advanced Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices that will allow Purdue researchers to study and improve plant growth and food production processes.
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