Carol Fawcett, Chief Information Officer, Golden State Foods

No one will dispute that technologies associated with Internet of things (IoT)have infiltrated every aspect of our lives, from home life to work. All ages are embracing the constant feedback on everything from health to location to security. It is a win for all and will only grow in the years ahead.

In our personal lives, we make decisions quickly, especially around the holidays, as I am sure you all have just experienced. The price points are just perfect to fill that last wish list item. In business however, the price tag is a bit higher and (should) take more forethought.

In this article I would like to focus on understanding the “why” of IoT.

Let’s start with safety. Better yet, let’s make it more personal by addressing food safety, which impacts all of us. Foodborne outbreaks in the U.S. cause innocent people to become seriously ill every year. From lettuce to meats to medicines, hardly a month goes by when one of these are not on a recall list.

Switching gears, think of a manufacturing plant filled with machinery to produce your favorite products. If not closely monitored, the risk can be great for workers in those plants who could suffer from accidental injuries linked to malfunctioning equipment.

Another scenario surrounding safety, consider the huge task of moving products safely from distribution centers to stores. If not closely monitored, this effort could be filled with risks for truck drivers traveling alone who face hazardous conditions alongfar-flung routes.

Across logistics, manufacturing, retail and many other industries, IoT offers the potential to prevent illness, injury and loss. Connected things can bring truck drivers and plant workers home safely to their families, while also protecting loved ones from the devastating effects of food contamination.

IoT’s evolving capabilities are quickly becoming mission critical to food service industry companies like mine. Golden State Foods (GSF), one of the largest diversified suppliers to the quick service restaurant and retail industries, and our family of companies provide manufacturing and distribution services to more than 125,000 restaurants from 45 locations on five continents.

Across the globe, millions of consumers like you and I count on GSF to maintain the highest standards in food quality and safety every day. That’s why safety is one of our core values at GSF.

IoT technologies promise to transform numerous aspects of GSF’s core businesses, which include processing and distribution of liquid products, meat products, produce, dairy, and other services, providing a variety of networked solutions for the total supply chain spectrum. Key to leveraging IoT, we must first understand the business case and its ability to scale in this growing industry.

If we start small with a problem and apply IoT as a solution, we can approach its adoption in a strategic, scalable and sustainable way. Despite the demand and eagerness for IoT solutions, broader enterprise transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s explore three ways that GSF is applying IoT solutions to food service industry challenges.

Challenge 1: Food Safety

When it comes to food safety and preventing illness, integrating IoT with other technologies has the potential to connect the entire beef supply chain, from the ranch to the restaurant. As a partner in IBM’s Food Trust Initiative, GSF leverages IoT in connecting three key parts of the supply chain, including manufacturer, distributor and retailer.

Working together to heighten transparency and safety, GSF’s innovation and IT teams partner with IBM in creative ways. We use IoT devices to monitor fresh beef’s real-time temperature,radio-frequency identification (RFID) to automatically track its movement, and blockchain technology to synthesize the business rules between parties in the supply chain. Beyond ambient temperature monitoring and reporting in strategic manufacturing points, IoT helps restaurant operators track and manage food inventory and shelf life.

Our GSF Chief Technology Officer Guilda Javaheri ponders IoT’s potential in this way: “Can you imagine how much waste could be prevented with that kind of information by ultimately having the right product at the right time and at the right place?”

Challenge 2: Equipment Safety

Moving into the manufacturing facility, another business use with connected machines helps us maximize inventory control and production efficiency. Through IoT-driven data collection and analysis, GSF carefully manages machine availability to eliminate waste and improve Overall Equipment and Efficiency (OEE) performance.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) not only benefits production efficiency and quality control, but also Environmental, Health, Safety and Quality (EHSQ) management that keeps people safe. Sourcing IIoT data automatically from connected devices and manually from workers’ inputs, EHSQ improvement programs have the potential to identify patterns and workplace hazards based on comprehensive, real-time data. Heightening EHSQ through IoT helps maintain a healthy, injury-free workforce.

Challenge 3: Transportation Safety

Finally, let’s look at the task of moving products. In making 17,000 deliveries per week, GSF’s Quality Custom Distribution (QCD) division focuses on two objectives:(1) delivering quality products on time and(2) bringing truck drivers home safely.

Using IoT technology to track trailers, we can help drivers avoid hazardous road conditions by dynamically changing the routes while in process. At QCD’s Los Angeles Transportation Command Center (TCC), an overnight team monitors data and communicates with hundreds of drivers across America, as they make deliveries to quick service restaurants in your home towns.

The TCC makes it possible to proactively re-route drivers and promptly respond to any signs of distress. As a hypothetical example, if a driver making deliveries is delayed due to a road condition, bad weather or even a health scare, the delayed delivery pace data will alert the TCC and result in outreach to that driver. In this scenario, IoT-driven data could potentially save a driver’s life.

At the end of the day, keeping people safe matters most. As GSF continues to evaluate business opportunities for leveraging IoT, I’m confident that this technology will establish a proven track record of helping us all live and work safer in this ever-changing world.



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