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IoT In Agriculture: The Second Green Revolution’s Agtech Innovation

 

“Smart farming” is a great way to term agriculture in this Fourth Industrial Revolution. What makes agricultural technologies SO interesting right now is that the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution converge and coincide with what is also termed the “Second Green Revolution.” Agribusiness, agriculture, and producers around the world face disruption on a scale that baffles imagination……More

IoT for Food Processing

On a clear IoT day, you can see data forever and evermore

The second in a four-part series brought to you by Par Technology Corp.

BY LAURA MUSHRUSH | FEBRUARY 27, 2017

 

It doesn’t matter whether a grower or food packing facility is 5 or 5,000 miles away from Megan Arnold’s office at Robinson Fresh, because within seconds her food safety analysis can begin with pinpointed data at the tips of her fingers.

A decade ago, the food sourcing sister to C.H. Robinson, a third-party global logistics giant currently operating in 36 countries, was operating on spreadsheets and watching its growth rapidly outpace the capabilities of its technology.

“I was thinking, ‘This is not sustainable because we were growing and growing,’ ” said Arnold, director of food safety at Robinson Fresh. “So we looked into a lot of different systems to help manage all of our data and partnered with a company to tailor a program to not only fit our needs, but our growers’ needs and customers’ needs as well.”

Its data tracking program, which utilizes the Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT technology, has revolutionized the way Robinson Fresh tracks essential food safety and business management metrics through efficiently connecting the complex web of channels within the company.

Want to know the results of the surprise audit completed this morning or test results from water samples taken by a grower in Brazil? Once upon a time, it could have taken days to fully answer questions like these, but now all Arnold has to do is log onto the online cloud storage base and it is all there.

Like all new and flash things, the latest and greatest technology is very attractive — sexy even. But without purpose, it is essentially worthless. Will Daniels, president of Fresh Integrity Group Inc., said for a food company to be a fit for IoT, it must first reflect and identify what is needed to bring value to the investment.

“The company needs to be hungry for the data — hungry for the results of the data and a desire to use that data,” Daniels said. “In my opinion, it is somewhat of a challenging task to connect this Internet of Things to be meaningful, to make sense.”

According to Daniels, companies should implement a short-term IoT plan by going after low-hanging fruit and identify easy connection opportunities that require minimal work to activate. Then, go after the long-term plan with a bigger picture and more detailed oriented mindset.

“For example, at a freshcut processing facility, there is a lot of data being collected around wash line performance, such as temperature and chemical levels,” Daniels said.

“It is really good data when everything is working right, but the sensors collecting it can cloud over and become less reliable. So if you don’t have a maintenance crew who understands the importance of keeping those sensors maintained, you lose the value.”

This is a common problem Daniels has seen when working with food companies. Sometimes it happens when maintenance contracts change hands, sometimes when there’s turnover within a company. To avoid inconsistencies in IoT collection and interpretation, he recommends food companies build a system of process management that can transfer from one owner to the next.

While integrating IOT into a food company is a complex and resource consuming process, the payouts can be significant.

For Robinson Fresh, the ability to pinpoint and fix a problem immediately though data tracking while maintaining a connected global supply chain has made IoT indispensable.

“Do you research on a company and find one that fits your operation,” Arnold recommends to food companies exploring IoT. “This is definitely where we are going as an industry, and if you are not doing it yet, then I suggest you take the steps to start.”

 

TeleSense @ CAMP

TeleSense is headed to the California Association of Meat Processors convention at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo this week! We are excited to share our IoT remote monitoring solutions for meat processing and to learn about other new innovations in the meat industry at one of the region’s great learning institutions for Agricultural and Food Science.

Source: http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/mmmyoso/2014/01/roadtrip-firestone-grill-san-luis-obispo.html

And, as with any San Luis Obispo trip, none is complete without stopping for some famous Firestone Grill tri-tip sandwiches in downtown SLO. If you haven’t made one before, a tri-tip roast requires precision care and quality control throughout a prepping and cooking process that takes two to three hours. Meat needs to be marinated for hours. Previously frozen or chilled meat needs to be brought down to room temperature so the meat is cooked evenly, which can take about two hours. Then comes the grilling portion which takes only 30 to 40 minutes, but the grill master needs to stay nearby in case of any flame flare ups to minimize burnt edges. Plus, the grill’s ambient temperature should always be maintained at 350°F. In addition, the grill should be tested for any “hot spots.”

If you’d like to try it out at home, you can visit these sites for recipes and good pointers on grilling that perfect roast: http://thetritipguy.com/how-to-grill-tri-tip-2/ or http://www.servingseconds.com/2012/10/firestone-tri-tip-sandwich.html

Firestone may easily average about 100 pounds of meat a day, which may equate to multiple 20 to 30 pound slabs of meat roasted daily. A family-owned restaurant like Firestone may have no problem handling four to five 20 pounders daily, with their meticulous meat roasting methods down to the T. However, for an industrial meat processor who averages over a 1,000 pounds daily, the story is different. Imagine manually checking the internal temperature of 500 tri-tip roasts multiple times every day!

When batch cooking meat, life is simplified with the help of technology. Smokehouse floor managers can receive emails with automatically generated temperature reports in regulatory compliance and wireless alerts when the oven or meat reaches the desired temperature or breaches the set temperature ranges. Without having to manually check temperatures or make hourly rounds jotting down temperature records, additional labor time is freed and human error is eliminated with an automated process.

TeleSense has been helping industrial meat processors wirelessly monitor product temperature to optimize operations and make inspections hassle-free. Why fight the beast? Setup the TeleSense system to do the work for you, while you go enjoy happy hour at Firestone with one of their perfectly cooked tri-tip sandwiches.

 

What is FSMA?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from food-borne diseases.

(http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm239907.htm)

In response to these staggering numbers, 2016 has brought new requirements to cold chain monitoring and food safety as the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations start to come into effect. For the first time since 1938, food safety legislation has been passed that greatly expands the powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce regulations that significantly improve the protection of our food supply.

 

Key Requirements

Specifically, FSMA would establish requirements for:

  • Vehicles and transportation equipment: Design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to prevent transported food from becoming unsafe.
  • Transportation operations: Measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls and separation of food and non-food items.
  • Training: Training the carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documenting the training.
  • Records: Maintain records of written procedures, agreements and training.

(http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm383763.htm)

These regulations will come into effect on a rolling basis – large companies within one year of the published final rule, 2 years for smaller businesses, and 3 years for the smallest companies.

 

Increased Scrutiny

FDA culture is becoming more enforcement-minded and inspection oriented. They plan to conduct more domestic inspections, in addition to becoming more strategic in the sites they inspect. Likewise comes an expansion in their definition of “high risk”, an expansion which may lead to an increase in demanding access to records.

The FDA will certainly be viewed as increasingly critical due to the rule changes. This means regulators will be more likely to identify issues while visiting sites. Instead of the past environment of working with facilities to make sure they make changes, the government looks to put more emphasis on taking action in the form of warning letters, increases in court injunctions, heightened use of import alerts, and a new authority for mandatory recalls and suspensions.

 

Looking Ahead to the Impact of FSMA

In light of these changes, using technology to update unreliable reporting and compliance processes, in addition to making records easily accessible to inspectors is of the utmost interest for food industry players to ensure that the health and survival of the business is not put in jeopardy. The FDA will know what happened not only on the day of their visit, but last week, month, or year. Making these records as easily accessible as possible on inspection day is a key component of coming FDA inspections.

 

It is vital to take proactive action to meet the new FSMA requirements. As more companies adopt technology to accomplish formerly manual compliance and operational processes, industry best practices will shift, giving technologically advanced food companies a competitive advantage over organizations that still apply traditional methods to tasks that are now being automated. But most importantly, these technological advancements are doing the one thing we all care about most: ensuring that the food on all of our plates is safe.