Technologies focused on the concept of connection between
objects that become smart, that is, objects equipped with IoT sensors and computational capacity that
allow them to act and interact with the physical world around them, can bring various benefits to
companies in the food supply chain: from development of collaboration with suppliers in production
(with the possibility of collecting real-time data and information on the production process and on
the quality of the outputs generated), as well as on the state of the machinery used and on maintenance (which passes in this way to be not only
preventive, but even predictive), up to internal logistics, with real-time control of food during
the production phase, and to a better time synchronization between production and sale, providing
consumers with end-to-end visibility end of the products purchased and consumed, from the raw material to the table.
The customer is a dairy that produces different types of cheeses (distinguished by type of milk, heat
treatment, processing processes and temperatures, maturing times, ...).
The customer's need is to be able to collect and analyze
useful information to minimize losses and maximize the final quality of the products, as well as to ensure maximum transparency of information
from farm to fork, tracing the entire supply chain with certainty.
In particular, the customer needed to trace and locate the different production
batches of the various dairy products during the various production phases, associating these data with those coming from other sources of information
already present in the company production control system (sensors environmental, customer orders, ..).
The dairy has expanded its production plant, with new air-conditioned processing and storage areas.
The movement of the cheeses between the various stages of production (processing, cooking, salting, maturing, ...) takes place by
means of trolleys that stop in the various air-conditioned areas for predefined amounts of time.
The tracking of the various production batches, which was carried out manually (with consequent loss of efficiency by the staff
and risk of error), was automated by implementing an indoor localization system within the plant. Based on a preliminary study on system
requirements, a solution based on wireless mesh architecture was identified.
In fact, the customer did not need a continuous real-time tracking,
but to know the position of the various trolleys during the parking phases in the different areas of the plant (lasting between a few hours and a
few days or weeks).
The trolleys (about 300) were equipped with watertight industrial mesh tags.
A QR code has been applied to the individual tags that allows them to
be uniquely associated with the cart's identifier. The QR code is read by the operator only at the time of the first loading phase on the trolley.
A mesh network of devices was created within the plant (also in a P67 watertight container)
that act as anchors for the localization system. The anchors were installed on the walls or on other support structures, at a maximum height of about 2.5 / 3 meters.
This factor, together with the fact that all anchors are battery powered, resulted in a significant reduction in installation costs compared to other wired solutions
that had been considered. The installation of 120 anchors, necessary to cover a plant area of approximately 10,000 square meters, was carried out by a team of two people
in a single working day, without the need for additional personnel and without interrupting the processing activities.
The location data was integrated via API into the customer's production management software. In this way the customer has access to processing data in real
time, being able to know the progress of the various batches. This has made it possible to automate many processes and to reduce the error rate in the positioning
of the various trolleys in production to 0%. In addition to this, it was possible to obtain a series of performance indicators of the plant.
The development of localization and sensor systems linked to the food supply chain guarantees excellent results for
the producer and the consumer (complete traceability of the supply chain, safety for the consumer, optimization of the work phases, greater speed
in the process of reducing errors). In the specific case, an indoor localization system of the various production batches inside a dairy, is allowed
to automate a significant number of processes (administrative and production), to reduce inefficiencies within the working cycle and to eliminate the
impact of human errors.