UK firm says cold chain IoT platform extends shelf life and increases the supply of perishable foods for consumption
A UK company is claiming it has developed an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that can help in the fight against global hunger.
Milton Keynes-based IMS Evolve has developed tech for the ‘cold chain’ – commercial fridge and freezers – which collects and manages huge volumes of data generated across the network. This data, it says, then enables retailers to optimise their processes to significantly extend shelf life and increase the supply of perishable foods for consumption.
“The US Department of Agriculture reports that the US alone wastes 141 trillion calories each year, the equivalent of 1,250 calories per capita every day. If food production, waste, and population trends hold true, experts say that millions of people will be starving by 2050. Even developed economies will feel the impact,” says Frank Jones, CEO and founder, IMS Evolve.
Jones says maintenance inefficiency in food retailers can lead to a high level of food waste through defective refrigeration. Improper temperature control, typically caused by older sensors or a missed fault on the refrigeration asset, also has big consequences for food waste, as a deviation in temperature can shorten the shelf life of food products.
He also points out that without the integration of an IoT solution, the process for identifying a fault can often be time consuming, with unresolved faults leading to melted ice and damaged stock being spotted by customers in store.
“The resolution of faults without smart infrastructure is also inefficient, with engineers often required for multiple callouts to first assess the fault and then identify the right skillset and toolset required to service a faulty machine,” he tells Food & Farming Technology.
IMS Evolve’s solution links two data sources – specific assets and specific work orders. Using real-time performance and efficiency data from assets, the system generates alerts when asset behaviour demonstrates warning signs such as a prolonged high temperature or inconsistent defrost cycles.
The platform can dynamically monitor regular and incremental changes, only generating work orders when alerts breach a critical point. These work orders are assigned to the individual asset and prioritised based on consequential outcomes such as stock loss, impact on customers and excessive energy use, ensuring the most impactful issues are resolved as quickly as possible.
“This ultimately reduces the risk of food waste by dealing with faults quickly and efficiently compared to non IoT-integrated retailers,” says Jones.
IMS Evolve says its system doesn’t need additional investment in sensors or infrastructure, as its controls system utilises thousands of pre-existing drivers and deep domain expertise to connect to existing legacy devices.
Jones says major food retailers using the solution across North America and the UK are seeing reductions of more than 40 percent in reactive maintenance calls and up to a 50 percent reduction in refrigerated stock loss.
“With the world growing enough food to feed about 12 billion – far in excess of the wold’s population – but with more than a billion still underfed, this sort of technology could be a step towards addressing global food issues,” says Jones.