Verizon Leader in Helping to Keep Food Chain Safe

susanmcguire2018    March 4, 2018

With over 3000 Americans dying each year from food borne diseases and 128, 000 being hospitalized,  keeping the fresh food supply safe is an enormous challenge. Verizon Enterprise has taken the initiative to bring light to the issue of food safety, as well as the current technical and process challenges that continue to impact humans and our fresh food supply. The issue is so large, that to put it in pure economic terms, the USDA estimates the amount of food loss in the U.S. alone each year totals more than $161B.  And the industry simply accepts these losses as the cost of doing business.

Verizon became involved in sensor and tracking technology a couple of years ago when they sat down with healthcare customer and asked them how they could help them be more efficient and effective with their business. They started to hear recurring themes in the pharmaceutical space about needing to be able to track in real time shipments of medicines that are compliant with the federal government regulations. They wanted to know the progress, the location, the temperature and a variety of other information that is required as they ship product around the US. They realized they were uniquely positioned to get involved with asset tracking in a bigger way.

The soon translated these learnings from Pharma to food by talking to fisherman who were losing money because so many different people were involved with the farm-to-fork delivery of their product. Food quality is important, but if something happens to the fish during transit, the fishermen get blamed. Fishermen were looking for ways to protect the quality of what they deliver.

Verizon understands the importance of tracking the temperature of fish from its catch to either the restaurant or retailer. Temperature control of fresh seafood (or any other perishable) is critically important for food safety. In fact, researchers have found that one of the largest challenges associated with food safety and food waste is related to controlling and monitoring the consistency of food temperatures throughout the cold chain.

Company using Verizon IoT Sensors

Cape Cod’s Ward Aquafarms supplies fresh oysters to restaurants and supermarkets across the country. The challenge for this business was once the product leaves their farm they were unable to see what was happening during the shipping process. A bad oyster can spoil more than a meal, it can ruin a company’s reputation. For a company that lives and dies by the freshness and quality of its seafood, that’s a significant risk to take.

Dr. Daniel Ward, of Cape Cod’s Ward Aquafarms approached the Verizon’s Internet of Things (IoT) team to develop technology that would allow him to track his oysters from the moment they leave Cape Cod all the way to their destination. Verizon incorporated their new IoT application, Intelligent Track and Trace which allows for Dan to monitor the location and temperature of every oyster bag he ships as it travels across the country and ensures that nothing gets compromised along the way. At the oyster collective’s packing point, a small but rugged device containing the sensor and a GPS beacon is placed in the box. The tracker sends mobile alerts to Dr. Ward and other stakeholders he designates, informing them of any deviation from the desired temperature during the parcel’s journey.

From bay to market: An Oyster’s journey

  • 8:00 AM – Harvested oysters are pulled from traps and sorted
  • 10:00 AM – Oyster are bundled for shipment with IoT devices and loaded into a temperature controlled truck at 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 11:59 AM – A thermal camera monitors shipments and generates side-by-side images that give farmers a robust temperature profile.
  • 12:00 PM – Oysters in transit – trackable via GPS. A temperature deviation is detected by the sensor, generating an alert to the farmer.
  • 12:05 PM – Farmer contacts shipper and learns that oysters were mistakenly unloaded. Parcel is reloaded, and farmer tracks reestablishment of ideal temperature.
  • 2:00 PM – Farmer receives alert when oysters arrive at their destination.

Lessons for Others

  • Learnings from challenges with one industry can easily be applied to other industries, (Medical & Fishing).
  • IoT Sensors provide transparency for Business.
  • Advanced networks that track environmental conditions in real time is giving people the ability to protect food shipments from the risk of contamination.

Organization: Verizon Enterprise Solutions
Industry: Technology
Name of Organization Contact: George Fischer, Senior Vice President and Group President – Verizon Enterprise Solutions

Authored by: S.McGuire

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