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The industrial IoT takeover from farm to fridge

An exciting part of the industrial internet of things is its impact on a wide variety of businesses and sectors — some more unexpected than others. Take a large dairy, for example. Contrary to whatever outdated image this may conjure, today’s large commercial dairies are very sophisticated operations. Like other large enterprises witnessing IoT technologies transform their industries, dairies are looking to find ways to use the new technologies to enhance their production efficiency and profitability.

Many enterprises today are focusing primarily on obtaining maintenance insights from their data. Dairy people, on the other hand, understand that IIoT dramatically increases the criticality of data generated throughout the plant and look for an even higher level of value from their data. In fact, large dairies today are reimagining their supply chains entirely through the use of data and IIoT technologies.

What’s cloud got to do with it?

The combination of IIoT and the cloud provides great value to consumers by allowing them to access information from any device, wherever they are. Cloud computing, however, can be of even more value to enterprises. Unorganized data sits in disconnected silos where it might otherwise be rendered useless. The intersection between IIoT and the cloud is the pen that connects these dots, enabling greater visibility across the entire supply chain.

From farm to fridge

For dairy operations, the cloud and IIoT enable greater flexibility and agility for supply chain management and can thus drive greater profitability. For example, if consumers are purchasing an unusually high amount of ice cream near the end of summer, dairy farms may understandably want to focus their efforts on ice cream production. But if a cold front hits the following week, the demand for yogurt may overtake the demand for ice cream in the absence of warmer weather. These aren’t atypical situations for dairy farms, which must then rapidly adjust their allocations to accommodate these unexpected shifts. Real-time data and analytics enable the dairy to reallocate its milk for yogurt production and de-emphasize ice cream production in direct response to the demand, or lack thereof.

Moreover, dairies can quickly identify and respond to product quality problems at any point along the supply chain. These insights are critical to limiting any potential recall, which not only improves overall production, but also protects public safety and upholds the dairy’s valuable brand.

What’s next?

Access to real-time data along each step in the chain allows businesses to better anticipate consumer and supplier dynamics, while making critical decisions more proactively. As you can see, dairy production is an interesting IIoT use case that isn’t really talked about all that much, given that much of the value IIoT provides depends on processes occurring in the background.

And in a world of rapid and promising technology advancements, just imagine what might come next. With the adoption of more connected consumer refrigerators, for example, the opportunity to use data from these consumer devices could help better anticipate consumer demand in newer and even more powerful ways. The key will be building out an edge computing infrastructure that can function as agilely as the rest of the network. It has to be simple to deploy, highly reliable, easily serviceable (think remote servicing) and able to protect the data that is critical to making this “transparent” supply chain work.

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