Time , Location and the related outside ambient of the mobile vehicle which stores the food plays a very important role in determining the preservation status before it is delivered to stores for sale- Mr. Pradip Subramaniam, CEO & Founder Director at Growtech Innovations India Pvt. Limited (Article submitted in March 2015)
Today in the world which is moving at jet speed towards adapting to new technologies which can be enabled by Smartphone we would like to showcase how the Internet of Things can actually make the Cold Chain Logistics more smarter and that too in real time . Most of the cold chain stationary warehouses or mobile vehicles have some temperature sensors fitted to monitor the health of the food or beverage or a pharma product that is stored inside. But in reality it is not just the temperature monitoring of the refrigeration system that is playing an important role in food preservation monitoring before it is actually delivered for supplies to consumers / customers. The following factors are all equally important to ensure that food / beverage / pharma product supplied to the stores is fresh and not perished after it is produced:
1. Distance that the food travels from farm / produce to the store & which route it follows basis various factors like the condition of the roads / traffic / external environment & ambient / tolls / time of the travel – whether it is peak hours or it is free roads and so on…
2. Traditionally the mobile vehicle which has a refrigeration unit mainly focuses on maintaining the temperature inside the vehicle basis the return air temperature which may not be a correct indication of quality or condition of the food and hence the need for more sensors to do in-situ measurement of the actual food load in a distributed fashion . The same is true for stationery warehouses too where the problem is compounded further by lack of proper air supply to many locations of the food storage which are not directly getting the cold air.
3. Time , Location and the related outside ambient of the mobile vehicle which stores the food plays a very important role in determining the preservation status before it is delivered to stores for sale . There are a lots of GPS trackers which track the mobile vehicle but co-relation of time, location and the surrounding ambient in predicting and hence basis this preventing food deterioration is not leveraged with so much information available basis the tracking .
4. Traditionally for mobile vehicles have only temperature sensors and that too in the refrigeration system but what we need is the following set of customized sensors to really help improve the perishable life of the produce which varies from case to case of type of food / beverage / pharma product :
a. In Situ Temperature Sensing for detecting hot / cold conditions around the produce
b. In Situ Humidity Sensing for checking moisture status around the produce
c. In Situ CO2 Sensing for health check of air around the produce
d. In Situ O2 Sensing for health check of air around the produce
e. Outside Ambient temperature , Humidity which needs to be co-related with produce sensing parameters dynamically
5. How the usage of the mobile vehicle is done in terms of frequent door opening / closing , vehicle stoppages , vehicle driving dynamics like braking , tyre pressure , speed etc. which also determines time to reach destination .
6. Tagging of the produce by Smart RFID and other technologies to keep not only track but also monitor theft or any pilferage / damage
All the above initiatives can be now possible because of the miniaturization of the Sensors which are all now available in the form of components which can be packaged in a very small size printed circuit board. On Similar lines there are smart Wi-Fi and GPS / GPRS / 3G ready modules which help provide tracking of real time and location of the produce in stationery and mobile condition. For the outside condition ambient environment we have got third party servers which can provide real time temperature, humidity and other such parameters which might affect the produce preservation quality. Using an Intelligent ARM based microprocessor we can create Smart APPs which can orchestrate the Sensor measurements, Time & Location Capture co-related with external ambient to help take appropriate actions and that too remotely sitting anywhere in the world using a Smartphone and that is where the real power of Internet of things comes into play.
With all the above we can provide a smart algorithm to co-relate the measurements of the Inside Environment / Ambient & External Environment with Time, Location tracking of the Produce to actually take improvement steps to help increase the preservation life / speedy delivery & good conditions of the produce when it is delivered at the store.
Basis the sensing and smart algorithm which provides the Sensing, Alerting and Possibly Control of the critical parameters to improve the quality of preserved produce it can also be made very user friendly by leveraging Smartphone APPs to manage the overall system.