How Peloris and AOWAY are tapping into IoT sensors in the supply chain to locate and track Australian foods and beverages – from farm to freight to fridge.

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is powering a major digital transformation in supply chain management that’s set to touch every part of the chain from floor to store and beyond.

Whether it’s asset and inventory tracking, maintenance, vendor relations, fleet management, planning or any other operational element, supply chains can now be connected, monitored, managed and optimised from top to bottom with IoT-based technology.

Here’s a sampling of what the connected supply chain could soon do, or is already doing, to help businesses innovate and grow.

New business opportunities

IoT sensors in the supply chain can also create major new business opportunities. Take fresh produce exporter Peloris Global Sourcing for example:

It’s crucial that the temperature of fresh milk stays between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius throughout its journey from farm to supermarket shelf, and that the milk gets consumed within three weeks of production. Both of these used to be a stumbling block for milk exports to China, which normally involves a lengthy approval process that’s as long as the milk’s shelf life.

But now with location and temperature monitoring technology that’s been endorsed for rapid border clearance (of around 36 hours) by China’s Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Peloris can sell fresh Australian milk — and other fresh Australian produce — in China with a 100 percent compliance record. As of September 2017, the company was responsible for around 30 per cent of fresh milk exports into China worldwide.

Similarly, trials of temperature and location monitoring tech in Australian mango exports to the United States during the 2017/18 season indicated that their quality may be compromised by unexpected delays in the distribution chain. These delays caused an undesirable amount of temperature variation within the mango pallets, which in turn may have reduced the quality of produce — a problem made worse by its market positioning as a premium fruit product. Without IoT tech, this probably would have continued to go unnoticed.

Transparency for global communities

IoT in the supply chain is also transforming consumer behaviours and mindset. AOWAY is Australia’s first, end-to-end, online channel linking Australian food and beverage businesses with Chinese consumers. Delivering an interactive, mobile-ready online platform, AOWAY will be visible to over 700 million smartphone users in China, to provide near real-time insights about fresh produce that is being transported from Australia.

In recent years, Chinese consumers have increasingly demanded verified, authentic and fresh Australian produce. However, the existing sector in China has been faced with poor quality control, contaminating food scandals and untrustworthy products – many that are said to be of Australian origin, but are in fact not.

AOWAY is responding to these challenges, by using IoT sensors to connect Australian suppliers with Chinese consumers, to ensure that the end users have access to verified, authentic, seasonal Australian produce delivered to their door.

With 78 percent of Chinese consumers increasing their spending on health and wellness, including organic or fresh fruits, meats and vegetables, AOWAY’s proposition to provide visibility and transparency of Australian produce is paramount.

IoT sensors track fresh produce from Australia all the way to China, and at every point in the supply chain. This means, Chinese consumers are able to access these updates via their smartphone and have 100% transparency over where their products are coming from, such as the milk that Peloris is transporting.

Transforming the supply chain to invent new markets

On top of all these efficiencies and productivity improvements, IoT could completely transform the interaction between the two ends of the supply chain. For many types of products, embedded sensors and IoT services could remain active through the lifetime of the product.

For fresh produce like milk, seafood, fruit and vegetables, this ensures consumer confidence in the quality of products — as it means that brands can protect their produce from any unscrupulous fraudsters who might sneakily swap low-quality food into the premium pool.

For other types of goods, this change could require an overhaul to sales, operations and R&D to account for a shift in value proposition from physical products to complete integrated solutions. A connected supply chain is also one that can quickly react to new trends — adjusting production schedules not months in advance, as was the norm just a few years ago, but rather within mere days, so that stores can meet demand for whatever the flavour of the week is on social media.

But for all industries, no matter what their product type, IoT in the supply chain promises to empower major transformation. It helps business leaders make great decisions that save time, expand operations and bolster revenue, with a game-changing, customer-focused impact across the whole supply chain. And most critically, IoT solves problems that can open entirely new markets.