Wireless technologies that serve as the backbone of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are gaining wider use in the global food manufacturing industry. The goal of IIoT technologies is to automate the collection of data across operations and improve processes within a processing plant. An enterprise that uses more advanced analysis of its data will see operational improvements and cost savings.

Deployment of cost-effective wireless sensors, ease of cloud-based connectivity technologies and data analytics will improve asset performance. These tools allow data to be gathered from the plant and converted into actionable information in real time. This will result in better, more forward-looking business decision-making processes.

IIoT temperature monitoring is a powerful tool for food safety. Because IIoT sensors are low cost, accurate and reliable, it is easy to accurately track the temperatures to which foods are exposed during every step of food processing. From initial production to supply-chain management and distribution, food processors can ensure that their products are always handled correctly — or identify and avert issues as they occur.

Wireless temperature-monitoring technologies can be used to continuously measure the environmental conditions — for instance, the interior of a refrigerated trailer. Even more importantly, they can be used to monitor the interior of packages and containers in which meats and produce are stored. If the seal of a container is broken, or temperature and humidity controls within the container fail, the sensors issue immediate alerts to supply-chain managers so the situation can be mitigated. Together, these food monitoring, trace and control mechanisms reduce spoilage.

monitoring solution

A wireless-monitoring solution can simplify the deployment of a network to collect and analyze real-time temperature data.

How Wireless Monitoring Systems Work

Wireless temperature-monitoring solutions used throughout the supply chain often rely on wireless, battery-powered sensors that send data to a base station. Equipped with data-analysis software, the base station used data it receives from the network of remote units to create a full monitoring solution. Most crucially, wireless environmental-monitoring solutions are able to send email or text message alerts if any predetermined thresholds are exceeded. A typical example is if the product temperature falls outside the desired range.

With the help of wireless monitoring and historical datalogging, the responsible personnel can analyze temperature tendencies and fluctuations over time. They also can use the IIoT data to make adjustments when necessary and demonstrate consistent compliance with the standards. Most data-analysis software provides temperature and process logs for use in documentation, reports and product safety audits.

Wireless sensor network

Wireless sensor networks can track and record temperatures continuously, notifying plant personnel via short-message texts or email alerts of any detected issues.

Wireless Monitoring Benefits for Food Processing

IIoT technologies help manufacturers reduce the impact of a recall and meet the requirements of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP). IIoT technology does so by providing detailed temperature monitoring and recordkeeping.

Wireless monitoring solutions provide a number of benefits for food processing applications. To gain overview into an otherwise disconnected food processing plant, a comprehensive food safety system must be implemented. Wireless monitoring systems have the potential to improve process efficiency by eliminating the need for manual datalogging and excluding the possibility of human error. The following are potential benefits.

Reduction of Product Spoilage and Waste. With constant wireless temperature monitoring, food producers can greatly reduce food spoilage risks that can result in losses, fines and penalties. Reducing food waste with the help of temperature monitoring can be beneficial for manufacturers as well as the environment overall.

Continuous Monitoring and Risk Management. Automated wireless-monitoring solutions can track and record temperatures continuously, immediately notifying staff via SMS or email alerts of any detected issues. By using automated wireless-monitoring solutions during production, manufacturing and transporting processes, companies have access to consistent, meaningful data that empowers them to implement food safety solutions.

Saving Resources. Centralized data gathering saves time previously spent on manual data collection. The installation process for many environmental technologies is relatively simple, quick and cost effective.

Wireless sensor networks

Wireless sensor networks are scalable. That is why they are actively being used in applications such as food processing and supply-chain management, where there is a need for dense deployment. Devices such as this wireless high temperature sensor can be used to monitor product and process temperatures in real time.

Improve Food Safety. The use of real-time temperature tracking sensors can help processors closely monitor food safety data points, ensuring efficient food production and cold-storage management. Demonstration of consistent regulatory compliance with associated temperature records of all storage areas also is possible. Also, such technologies allow processors to avoid the time-consuming physical document retrieval process. Data gathered by the real-time temperature tracking sensors can be accessed and exported quickly if needed.

Wired vs. Wireless Sensor Solutions for Food Processing

Both wired and wireless sensors have benefits and disadvantages. These benefits and disadvantages can be used to determine which type of sensor is right for the job intended.

In many situations, wired sensors are among the most reliable systems. They directly link the sensor to the device receiving the data input. This means that wired sensors are also durable systems that do not often need to be replaced. It should be noted, however, that wired systems plant space for wiring and other infrastructure, and they can be more complicated to maintain. This burden increases as more sensors are used. Finally, if the sensor wire is broken, then it is more complicated and expensive to replace it in most situations.

Wireless sensor networks are scalable by simply adding devices to the network. This is one of the reasons wireless networks are being used increasing in applications such as food processing and supply-chain management. Wireless technologies are particular suited for applications where there is a need for dense deployment, and where a wired setup may involve a complicated deployment. In such environments, wireless sensor nodes often can be deployed more easily.

Wireless temperature

Wireless temperature and relative humidity sensors are used to send data to the base station.

In conclusion, as the food processing industry faces new challenges with implementation of new technologies, the use of industrial IIoT equipment will help adopters improve facility productivity. IIoT technologies also can help reduce maintenance issues and overall operational costs.

Food manufacturers of all sizes are looking for ways to cut costs and increase efficiency. Wireless monitoring and predictive maintenance tools can help achieve these objectives. Researchers predict that more than 34 billion Internet-connected devices will be in use by 2020. Moreover, nearly 40 percent of those will be used for business-related purposes. In the supply chain, the IIoT enables real-time data visibility, centralized data collection and proactive, automated problem-solving. To prepare for the opportunities to come, the industry must understand and effectively begin leveraging IIoT technologies today.