How the Internet of Things will impact the future of the food distribution industry

How the Internet of Things will impact the future of the food distribution industry

There are 8.4 billion smart devices in the world – that’s more than the number of people on the planet!

They range from smart TVs and wearable fitness trackers to driverless cars – anything that talks to other related devices over the internet, collects data and processes it.

The network of these devices is called the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s turning everyday objects into smart technology that can be controlled and monitored remotely, over the web.

In the following blog we look at the impact of the IoT on the food distribution industry. We review how it’s being used throughout the supply chain and how you can use IoT to future-proof your business.

Reducing waste

According to research 40% of food waste comes post-harvest and half of this spoilage is happening before the consumer gets their hands on the goods.

It’s mainly down to Mother Nature – the fact that fresh food deteriorates at different rates which can be hard to control. For example, fruit picked in the morning might go moldy faster than fruit harvested in the afternoon. It’s all about the amount of carbon dioxide and heat the fruit gives off which can change dramatically according to the time of day it was picked.

Thanks to IoT technology producers can now use sensors to monitor the respiration rate of fruit and modify their actions accordingly. Fruit which respires quicker will be given more ventilation, allocated a quicker delivery time and might be given a shorter ‘use by’ date. This cunning use of smart technology helps reduce wastage and makes sure the consumer gets the goods in peak condition.

Increasing safety

Once food is packaged and loaded the risk isn’t over yet. The food might be chilled, frozen or fresh and need to be shipped hundreds of miles to reach its destination. There are any number of things that could happen along that journey – there could be a delay, a seal on a container might break or temperature and humidity controls could fail.

To make sure the food arrives safely, food distributors need to remotely monitor and control the conditions in which it’s being kept. By using sensors which measure changes in temperature and humidity within the shipping containers, supply chain managers can be alerted to incidents and rectify situations before they cause concerns, health risks or result in product recalls. It’s a cost-efficient way of making sure your delivery is kept in safe hands.

Creating smart warehouses

Picking and packing items is far more laborious when it’s done by hand. A warehouse worker needs to find the goods, manually pick them and cross them off the order. Thanks to the IoT, cart-like robots can now receive orders automatically, locate items in a warehouse and retrieve the products. It means lorries can be loaded faster and turnaround times can be reduced.

And the capability of smart warehouses doesn’t stop there – IoT sensors will also monitor the movement of goods in and out and reorder stock once it gets to critical levels. It means you might never have to manually place an order again and reduces the risk of running out. The tracking is also a clever way to identify patterns and trends in demand which means you can be far more proactive about the stock you carry in the future too.

Speeding up delivery

Our multi-drop route planning software lets food distribution businesses track where their goods are on the go and gets them to their destinations faster. It uses cloud-based technology to manage drivers’ schedules, calculate the most efficient routes and alert the customers of delivery times. The technology will even integrate real-time data on traffic and weather conditions to modify the route while taking into account the vehicle type and load restrictions.

It’s connected delivery software like this which will help speed up your delivery times, cut deadhead miles, increase route efficiency and reduce costs. And it will do all this while letting you track and manage your fleet remotely.

So if you’re looking to improve the efficiency and speed of your business while cutting costs then IoT is the way to go. Any one of these solutions will change your business forever.

And if you’re ready to take the next step then our delivery planning and multi-drop route optimisation software is a simple way to get started. It’s easy to use and cloud-based meaning there’s no expensive or lengthy installation – you can simply plug in and go. To make life even easier there are a range of packages to suit every budget and business.

If you’d like to take your first step into the future of food distribution then contact us for a free trial.

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