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From push cart to smart cart: IoT offers control over ice cream carts

Distribution management is a hard job. Upper management often uses monthly inventory waste figures as a measurement of the efficiency of their last-mile distribution network. For an ice cream company, this number is doubly important as it also gives insights into problems before the last mile.

Ice cream is a highly perishable commodity and needs to be maintained in the best condition from the point of production to the point of consumption, which can be hundreds of miles away. With the help of tried-and-tested manufacturing practices and cold chain logistics technologies, reefer vans move inventory seamlessly from the factory to the last-mile cold room. It is at this point that push carts make their appearance.

Push carts can sell ice cream directly to customers at their location. They are not bound to a location in the same fashion brick-and-mortar shops are. While this gives a definite advantage, there are efficiency issues in using these vehicles.

Let’s see how IoT can intervene to monitor and control these issues.

Play your carts right: Push cart tracking and temperature monitoring

History has shown us that running basic initial checks on refrigerator temperatures is not enough. When push carts are out in the field, it’s imperative to monitor their location and temperature constantly. Traditional methods of follow-up are labor intensive, unproductive in the long-run and cumbersome. IoT-based GPS and temperature sensing eliminate the burden of manual follow-ups and the reliance on human memory for issue resolutions. They provide 100% visibility of your cart’s location and refrigerator temperature.

Dude, where’s my cart? Cart-driver behavior and performance management

The last-mile cold room managers usually have a tough time managing the cart-driving staff. There’s always the struggle of having the cart’s batteries charged balanced against having the carts out at the right location and at the right time. Analyzing historical data helps establish the standard baselines for battery-charge duration and expected backup time. Coming up with an effective charging schedule just got a whole lot simpler. Cart utilization and positioning can also be optimized by analyzing the GPS data and comparing that against sales figures.

Juggling cups and cones: Area-wise distribution and restocking plans

One size never fits all, at least not in the world of ice cream. The abundance of choice is one of the key factors used by consumers to identify with an ice cream brand. The more, the better. A single mix of inventory cannot work for all locations. Consumers must have a variety of favorite flavors that they can pick from on any day. Demand volumes also vary, not just with location, but also with the time of year. Let software do the number-crunching for you. Inventory plans based on location, time of year, customer demographics, previous sales and future trends will give you better results, and if this process is automated it will save you a ton of time as well.

Streamlining day-to-day running, projecting long-term plans and identifying profitable routes by reconciling sales versus location are just a few of the ways IoT can help your business.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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