25 June 2018
IoT Solutions Preserve Food Safety, Reduce Wastage and Increase Productivity
Author: Fu Shuhui - Field Marketing Manager - UnaBiz (Sigfox Operator in Singapore and Taiwan)
The food and beverage (F&B) industry is embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) trend, consequently ensuring food safety while operations become more streamlined and efficient.
Refrigerators and walk-in freezers have to be monitored constantly. Restaurant staff have to check up on them several times during the day and record data about the temperature and energy consumption. Such frequent follow-ups are time consuming and affect staff productivity. Traditional pest control solutions use chemicals and toxins that are largely ineffective over a period of time.
In Singapore, IoT makes technology accessible to small and medium enterprises (SMES) in F&B that may not have the deep pockets to invest in expensive technology. With Sigfox-enabled solutions, SMEs can be early adopters of IoT, leverage on real time data to make business decisions quickly and effectively. They can also enhance operations, reduce costs as well as scale and grow their businesses.
The best thing about using IoT devices is that these can be easily adapted to new as well as existing equipment such as fridges. This means that businesses are able to protect their capital investments. This levels the playing field for SMEs and enables them to compete with bigger players within the sector.
UnaBiz, the Sigfox Operator in Singapore and Taiwan, showcases how IoT can dramatically improve several key dimensions of a kitchen’s operations. The key benefits of IoT are:
- The integrity of food products and ingredients can be kept intact
- Lowers energy costs and reduces food wastage
- Greater employee efficiency and productivity
- More efficient pest control management
The Power of IoT in Food and Beverage
IoT devices can facilitate kitchen operations and improve workflow. For early adopters that want to invest in technology, Sigfox Ready light weight devices provide a low cost option. Such IoT devices pick up important pieces of information and wirelessly upload them to the cloud via the Sigfox global network, where data is automatically analyzed and sent to the staff via apps and web portals. This system improves workflow, reduces costs and maintains quality of products and services. It also sends out alerts in case of potentially damaging system breakdowns. The automatic temperature monitoring and alert system within kitchen appliances ensures high standards for health and food safety.
Let’s take a look at three Singapore small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that use IoT devices via the Sigfox global network to ensure food safety and integrity, increase sales leads, monitor customer satisfaction, and enhance pest management control.
Flawless Cold Chain Monitoring Ensures Integrity of Food Products
In a bakery such as the Pine Garden’s Cake, customer experience is key and so is food safety. The bakery business is fast, hectic and strenuous, particularly when the food is fresh and delicious. Established in the heartlands of Singapore three decades ago, Pine Garden’s Cake works with ingredients with a relatively short shelf life. Ingredients are regularly delivered to the kitchen to be prepared, freshly baked and made available for sale when the cake shop opens for business every morning.
The refrigeration unit is one of the most important part of businesses in F&B because that is where all its vital stocks are kept. With five different types of fridges which have been bought over a span of 30 years, it was not economically viable for the small bakery to discard these and to invest in new costly technology such as connected fridges to enhance its operations.
IoT provides an excellent affordable option for the bakery. With Sigfox Ready thermometers in its refrigerators to record the conditions, Pine Garden’s Cake is able to ensure that the integrity of food items is kept intact.
Wei Chan - Managing Director - The Pine Garden, Singapore
"We are a 34-year-old heartlands bakery. As with all small businesses, we are unable to invest in huge (expensive) systems. But, with IoT, we can ensure that the ingredients can be stored safely and the integrity of the product is kept intact. A customer wants his delicacies to taste exactly like they should, but never, ever wants to wait for them to be made. “IoT helps us to improve customer experience.”
IoT Develops Sales and Collects Customer Data
La Petite Boutique is an importer and distributor of gourmet products. The small business uses IoT devices on the Sigfox global network to monitor, record and generate timely reports on temperatures in refrigeration equipment used for storage and food preparation. Such alerts, notifications and reports are very effective for maintaining the cold chain and ensuring that the integrity of ingredients remain intact.
According to Morgane Foucaud, Founder of La Petite Boutique, IoT helps to ensure that it gives customers the best products and provides the safest gourmet experience to them.The cheese shop also uses both the IoT satisfaction and ordering buttons. Regular customers who live within a 3-km radius are given an ordering connected button to take home so that when they want, they are able to order items by just pressing a button.
Morgane Foucaud - Founder - La Petite Boutique, Singapore.
“IoT is helping us to develop our sales with the truffle brie smart button. It has been given to our loyal customers who are living near the shop. When they are craving for our yummy truffle brie, they can just press the button and we can receive their orders, do the preparation. Within 3 hours, the products are delivered to their doorsteps.”
At its POS counter, a satisfaction button enables customers to provide feedback about satisfaction. This enables the shop to continually improve its level of service to its customers. This feedback is important for a pleasurable customer experience and ensuring the utmost customer delight.
On a larger scale, while initial adoption leads to better line of sight into day-to-day kitchen operations, more significant benefits will likely accrue over the longer term as more offerings with greater functionality are made available over time. IoT levels the playing field for small businesses such as La Petite Boutique and enables them to transform their businesses by enabling them to use real time data to make business decisions, improve efficiencies and save on operational costs, notes Foucaud.
Pest Control Management Solutions Protect Food Outlets from Vermin
Located in Woodlands near the Causeway, Empire State restaurant serves classic American classic food with an Asian twist.
The restaurant uses IoT temperature monitoring devices to ensure its refrigeration equipment is operating at optimum temperatures. This means that no human supervision is needed, which makes it that much easier for chefs, cooks, managers and staff to do their job. Staff are informed via text when maintenance is required, reducing risks and the need for manual checks. This helps to optimize staff efficiency and improve the quality of service as well as preserve the safety and freshness of perishable food. In the past, manual checks on the refrigeration units were needed but now, with IoT, the restaurant is able to optimize its staff to focus on the customers and improve its service.
Peter Alexius Alisoso - Operations Manager - Empire State restaurant, Singapore
“IoT helps to preserve the integrity and freshness of our food. We also use [IoT] motion sensors to enhance our pest control [management] capabilities. We invest in such technology to ensure food health and safety for all our customers. The close monitoring of pests will ensure that we can keep our restaurant premises safe and pest free.”
Such battery powered motion-detection devices use Sigfox global network. These infrared sensors are the ‘electronic eyes’ that monitor and capture real-time rat activity around the clock. That data is then sent to the cloud for analysis, in order to track and map the movement and behavior of rats. In this way, the restaurant lay traps in the best places to catch them.
In the final analysis, Chan and Alisoso note that the food and beverage industry is not just about preparing, cooking and serving. To elevate its game, the F&B industry as a whole, needs to make data-based business decisions in real time.