How is smart technology used in the food and beverage (F&B) industry? And what are the benefits?
The Internet of Things is an application of telemetry.
Defined by Oxford Languages as “the process of recording and transmitting the readings of an instrument”, telemetry is formed from the Greek tele (“remote”) and metron (“measure”).
Early examples of telemetry include an 18th century device that monitored conditions in a steam engine, and a system of sensors built by French engineers to relay real-time meteorological information from Mont Blanc to Paris.
The furthest telemetry communication to date is that of the space probe, Voyager 1, which was launched into space in 1977. The probe is successfully sending information to Earth from a distance of 18.8 billion km (11.7 billion mi).
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of devices that gather and convey information via the Internet. For many people, devices such as computers, smart phones, smart televisions, smart watches, and voice assistants have become a part of everyday life. Beyond these ubiquitous devices, however, there’s a vast world of smart telemetry used in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, meteorology, motor racing, space and marine exploration, aviation, law enforcement, fabrication …
Let’s just say, there are more than 35 billion smart devices in the world, and the number is expected to double by 2025.
But what about the F&B industry? What part does IoT play in this sector?
The very first smart device made an appearance in 1982. It was a soda vending machine, connected to the Internet by grad students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Fed up with trekking to the common room to find the soda dispenser empty, or recently replenished with bottles that weren’t yet chilled, a group of grad students in the computer science department put their heads together to devise a solution.
The result was a smart soda dispenser, which monitored the number of bottles in each of its six columns, as well as the amount of time each bottle had been in the dispenser (it took approximately three hours for the drinks to be properly chilled). With remote access to this real-time data, the young inventors were able to keep the machine stocked with plenty of chilled bottles of pop. There were no more wasted journeys to check a fully stocked machine or to make impromptu refills.
It’s estimated that approximately one third of all food grown for human consumption is lost or wasted. Smart technology helps to reduce loss and waste at every stage of production.
At the beginning of the food-production journey, farmers use smart cameras, geographic information systems (GPS), microphones, motion sensors, spatial technology, and biometric trackers to collect information about livestock and crops. In warehouses, factories, and vehicles, operators employ smart technology to ensure food is stored and handled appropriately. At the end of the food journey, retail and hospitality businesses use smart devices to monitor the condition of food and its environment.
Remote monitoring of the drinks dispenser at Carnegie Mellon University ensured a constant supply of chilled sodas. After all, fizzy drinks do taste much better when they’re cold.
But when we’re talking about frozen goods and perishable items, like meat, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, and bread, maintaining a maximum temperature is essential for freshness and safety. When serving prepared food and drink, temperatures need to be maintained at an appropriate minimum. Smart sensors in food storage and cooking equipment will monitor and communicate temperature data.
Items with a longer shelf life, such as flour, sugar, dried pasta, carbonated drinks, and tinned products have different needs, which might call for checks on humidity, pressure, or exposure to air.
Through the use of IoT, producers, processors, shippers, wholesalers, retailers, and caterers can function jointly to provide consistent and accessible data throughout the entire supply chain to:
Food hygiene can be monitored and improved through the use of smart wearables. For example:
These processes help prevent food contamination.
Smart technology is also used in the F&B industry for touchless applications. The gesture-controlled Aqua Touchless minimises the risk of virus transmission, and smart reporting provides data to help users monitor sustainability programmes.
Remote monitoring of the drinks dispenser at Carnegie Mellon University allowed students to keep it well stocked. Besides the advantage of stock availability, the data helped with time management. Operators knew when the machine needed replenishing, and they knew how many bottles were needed.
Stock management is an important part of smart reporting in the F&B industry. IoT telemetry enables fast-moving items to be replaced before running out, and it prevents over-stocking and eventual wastage. In some cases, the system includes an automatic re-ordering function.
Remote monitoring of the soda dispenser at Carnegie Mellon University allowed students to keep it fully stocked, which, besides the element of convenience, contributed to keeping energy usage down.
A smart chiller whose primary purpose is to keep food at a low temperature will also collect, analyse, and share data about energy consumption. An increase in energy use will flag up potential problems, such as a technical or mechanical fault, the need to replace an appliance, or a change in operational practice.
Aqua Link is a centralised water distribution system that delivers high volumes of chilled, boiling, and sparkling water to multiple dispensers throughout a building. The system uses smart technology to provide dynamic reporting on water temperature, flow rate, incoming water pressure, volume of water dispensed, CO2 replacement management, and leak detection. This data enables operators to monitor energy and water consumption and to detect potential faults.
The world’s first digital dispense tap offering pure, chilled, flavoured water.
Britvic’s Aqua libra Flavour Tap is a countertop water dispenser that adds micro-doses of additive-free flavouring at the point of dispense. Via the simple touchscreen interface, users select their flavour, and either still or sparkling water. In seconds, a healthy, well-mixed drink is dispensed into a reusable cup.
The Aqua Libra Flavour Tap, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) smart technology, is designed for retail and office environments, providing a sustainable and healthy way to enjoy beverages.
To sum up:
If you’d like to know more about the smart technology used in Aqua Libra products, give us a call on 0800 080 6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.