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Connected Strategies Drive Needed Cold Chain Visibility

AmyChildress Amy Childress | Vice President of Marketing & Planning,

Cargo Solutions, Emerson’s Cold Chain Business

Over the last decade, connected technologies have transformed the ways in which food cold chain operators preserve food safety and quality. By utilizing monitoring devices connected via the internet of things (IoT), cold chain stakeholders have much greater visibility into their supply chains — and control of myriad factors impacting freshness, safety and quality. Today, with the acceleration of e-commerce fulfillment models, these tools and technologies are even more critical. I recently participated in an article from The Packer, which discussed the importance of cold chain connectivity in today’s challenging retail business climate.

When you consider the international sourcing of fresh produce, overseas shipments can last from two to four weeks, often involving 20–30 steps to travel from farms to consumers. With today’s IoT-enabled monitoring and tracking infrastructures, cold chain stakeholders have the potential for much-improved visibility into each step of this journey — even the possibility for comprehensive cold chain traceability. Connected devices give operators the ability to monitor, control and track a variety of determining conditions, including temperature, humidity, the presence of ripening agents, lighting and much more.
Impacts of e-commerce acceleration
While the growth of the e-commerce grocery business began well before 2020, the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated this trend dramatically. In particular, click-and-collect business models have introduced new refrigeration requirements; but many of the walk-in cold storage lockers and reach-in coolers installed for these purposes were undersized for pandemic-driven spikes in volumes. What’s more, many of these coolers were not designed for high volumes of traffic, and frequent opening and closing of doors cause infiltration of warmer, humid air.
Simply put, retailers need new refrigeration strategies to manage the high volume of orders, maintain precise temperatures, and keep up with today’s demand. But it’s critically important to seize this opportunity and provide service levels that keep consumers coming back — especially considering studies show half of customers will stop shopping online with a retailer if they are not happy with the service.
To help address these challenges, Emerson recently launched the Copeland™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series. This reliable and robust unit provides refrigeration for medium-temperature, walk-in coolers, such as those used by supermarkets making the transition to e-commerce business models. In addition, its wide applicability makes it ideal for display cases and food preparation areas that are commonly found in convenience stores, small-format stores and restaurants.
Making the cellular network transition
The ongoing evolution of wireless networks is impacting the connected infrastructures and devices utilized by cold chain technology providers. Currently, there are 4.5 million connected pieces of equipment monitored globally by Emerson’s Retail Solutions business. And in many regions, the mobile device industry is phasing out the use of 2G and 3G networks in favor of newer technologies such as 5G. As a result, any legacy real-time tracking device that relies on 2G and 3G networks to transmit data may experience brownouts in coverage.
This is why Emerson is currently launching new devices that utilize emerging technologies such as Category M, or “Cat-M” and Narrow Band internet of things, or “NB-IoT” — both of which are coming online as cellular providers introduce 4G and 5G networks. In fact, we recently launched our next-generation 4G/Cat-M real-time trackers at the Fruit Logistica trade show in Berlin. These new devices are designed to bridge the gap between 2G and these emerging technologies to ensure uninterrupted tracking and monitoring.
Key infrastructure upgrades
As part of our connected infrastructure upgrades, we have also recently introduced Oversight 2, a cloud-based online portal that serves as a real-time resource for monitoring in-transit shipment information. Oversight 2 provides stakeholders with key data points that may impact the quality of perishable cargo, such as temperature, location and other indicators.
For the retail store environment, Emerson’s ProAct™ Connect+ Enterprise Management Software provides near real-time access to critical information to help retailers immediately track, triage and respond to issues across their multi-site network and better meet food quality and safety expectations.

Tracking Food Safety Data During the Cold Chain Journey

MattToone_2 Matt Toone | Vice President, Sales & Solutions – Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Whether you’re a convenience store (c-store) operator, quick-service restaurant (QSR), or a fast casual or fine dining establishment, ensuring food quality and safety is imperative to your success. In this blog, the third of a three-part series based on a recent E360 article, Minimizing Food Safety Risks From Farm to Fork, I explore how advanced technologies can protect food safety at every step in the cold chain.

Tracking Food Safety Data During the Cold Chain Journey

Food safety and quality are the cornerstones to any successful foodservice operation. The ability for operators to deliver on both, however, hinges in large part on an interdependent supply chain of multiple, diverse stakeholders. Yet many operators are unaware of the efforts required to maintain food safety and quality throughout this cold chain.

Until now.

The rise of internet of things (IoT) technologies is providing unprecedented opportunities to monitor, control and track the many factors that influence quality during food’s long journey from farms to customers. For foodservice operators, this means greater control over ensuring that food is safe on receipt. Exercising this power starts with understanding the cold chain and how data is collected.

The cold chain journey

As foodservice operators well know, the pressure to protect food safety is felt most acutely where customers buy or consume food. But every stakeholder in the cold chain is responsible for maintaining food quality and freshness:

  • Harvesting and processing: The cold chain journey begins at the moment of harvest, where everything from the time of day to environmental conditions affect quality. Processors use a variety of strategies, including temperature controls, to slow or halt the decay process. The pipeline of data monitoring also begins at this stage, with pulp temperature probes and temperature loggers and trackers.
  • Transportation: Whether food is shipped by land, sea or air, reputable transport companies will apply a variety of best practices and technologies to protect its quality. Independent temperature monitoring, logging and tracking devices that provide real-time communications are essential at this stage. These systems enable remote monitoring and issue alert notifications when deviations in temperatures, humidity, modified atmosphere settings and vibration occur.
  • Cold storage: Cold storage distribution centers are another vital link in the cold chain. Here, data is collected at several points to ensure that food meets documented food safety standards. Many of these facilities employ different temperature zones and use both industrial and commercial refrigeration technologies. Devices that can work across disparate systems to monitor, record and maintain proper temperatures are critical to providing temperature certainty.
  • Restaurants: From the moment they accept a shipment, operators take ownership of food safety. For this reason, they should meticulously inspect all data accrued during the product’s journey to ensure it was kept at optimal conditions. After receipt, advanced facility and refrigeration controls can help operators maintain proper temperatures and comply with food safety regulations.

Solutions to protect food safety at every step

The cold chain can involve multiple hand-offs as food makes a days- or weeks-long journey to its final destination. That’s why end-to-end solutions for cold chain technologies are so essential to protecting food safety. An unbroken chain of data, paired with the streamlining capabilities of IoT technologies, puts greater oversight of food quality into the hands of operators and their suppliers.

At Emerson, we have both the refrigeration expertise and targeted solutions for nearly every point along the food supply chain. Our growing portfolio of connected, communicating devices and enterprise management software provides the solutions and resources our customers need to achieve cold chain temperature certainty and verification throughout food’s journey.

From compression and refrigeration system technologies, to case controls and facility management devices, to temperature loggers, trackers and probing devices, to software and services — we’re a leading single-source partner dedicated to helping our customers ensure full cold chain integrity.

So if you’re ready to take your operation to the next level with advanced controls and technologies, contact Emerson today.

 

E360 Breakfast at NAFEM: Automating the Commercial Kitchen Panel Discussion

Paul Carlson_Blog Paul Carlson | Vice President/General Manager Foodservice
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Before the doors open at the NAFEM show on February 8, join us at 7 a.m. for an E360 Breakfast and panel discussion on automating the commercial kitchen.

The internet of things (IoT) is making its way into commercial kitchens, connecting equipment and processes to deliver greater degrees of automated efficiencies. Bringing these concepts to life will have significant impacts on business operations in a variety of areas, including: maintenance and service, food quality, labor efficiency and technology.

Enjoy a free breakfast on us as you listen to an expert panel discuss the possibilities and challenges of automating commercial kitchens. The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A segment where you can pose some of your most pressing questions.

After breakfast, be sure to visit the Emerson booth (#4100) on the NAFEM show floor where you’ll find many of our leading technologies, including:

  • Copeland Outdoor Refrigeration Unit (X-Line) — see how leading retailers are saving space, improving efficiencies and reducing noise, rather than using self-contained or rack refrigeration systems
  • Copeland M-Line Condensing Unit — this R-290-ready, M-Line condensing unit helps OEMs and operators move to an environmentally friendly, natural refrigerant platform
  • Site Supervisor — designed for small formats, this flexible facility control platform gives retailers powerful control over key store systems
  • ProAct™ Software and Services — combine smart mobile alert software with ProAct service experts for continuous monitoring, full-time support and consulting
  • Connect+ Software — see the unveiling of our newest software suite, designed to utilize IoT to provide advanced operational efficiencies across a multi-site retail network

Register now to reserve your seat at this informative, idea-filled E360 Breakfast — and get your day at NAFEM off to a great start!

The Risks and Rewards of Connecting Commercial Kitchens

Paul_Hepperla Paul Hepperla | Vice President, Solutions Integration – Foodservice

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

 

Join us our next E360 Webinar, “The Risks and Rewards of Connecting Commercial Kitchens” on Tuesday, December 11 at 2 p.m. EST / 11 a.m. PST.

The Risks and Rewards of Connecting Commercial Kitchens

It seems everywhere you turn and across multiple industries, companies are touting the promise that the internet of Things (IoT) will digitally transform their operations. The restaurant sector is no exception. In recent years, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and restaurant retailers have spent considerable time and effort figuring out how to leverage the power of connectivity in commercial kitchens.

While it’s relatively easy to conceptualize how the internet of things (IoT) could improve operational efficiencies and provide business value, bringing these ideas to fruition has proved more difficult. Too often, we see retailers make the jump to connecting assets without first having a clear idea of what problem they’re trying to solve, or how connectivity will fundamentally change the way their business operates. Then, once everything is connected, they’re left wondering: “What’s next?”

Our next E360 Webinar will examine why this is the case, and focus on how foodservice OEMs and retailers can work together to tap the seemingly limitless potential of IoT. My presentation, “The Risks and Rewards of Connecting Commercial Kitchens” will focus on these key points:

  • The importance of defining the scope and purpose of your connected project
  • An examination of the far-reaching and dramatic impacts to your business
  • Real-world examples of successful and failed connectivity projects
  • Evaluating business models that involve service contracts, recurring revenue or monetization

Another common problem with connected kitchen projects is underestimating the complexities inherent with these new business models. For example, a connected maintenance offering might require somewhat sophisticated coordination of not only OEM and end user roles, but also the inclusion of an authorized service provider. Frankly, these are the types of business relationships and interactions that are often overlooked when companies rush to exploit the power of IoT before thinking through the implications.

The webinar will look at these challenges from both OEM and retail perspectives. For an OEM, it’s critically important to understand their customers’ business needs before launching a connected initiative. Similarly, retailers need to realize that without involving and engaging their OEM partners in their connected kitchen strategy, they’re not likely to achieve the maximum potential of their IoT solution.

So, if you’re thinking about entering into a connected kitchen project or IoT business model in the restaurant sector, register now to gain a better understanding of the risks and rewards of connectivity.

Connectivity Is on the Menu

Today, many c-stores offer an ever-changing menu of fresh food offerings. The variety of these healthy choices makes hungry customers happier, but creates complications for the c-store chain.Read the full article here.

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