• Need for transparency is paramount across the food supply chain
  • Data silos continue to exist despite the transformational initiatives undertaken within areas like line operations, packaging and distribution 
  • Traceability is a critical requirement for the Food & Beverages industry
  • The various handoffs which occur across the food supply chain can be streamlined using technologies like augmented reality to provide tools for data collection at the point of execution

Transparency in the Food Supply Chain

The need for transparency on the source of food we consume is all the more important today. Demand for naturally sourced foods continues to grow – expected to surpass USD 220 billion by 2024. The Center for Food Integrity found that 65 percent of consumers want to know more about where their food comes from.

The consumer is exerting more influence on supply chain practices, demanding just not safer food but data as proof to support claims like organic, clean, or locally sourced. The COVID-19 crisis is further reinforcing the need for transparency and building trust with the brands as we get through these challenging times.

Challenges with Transparency 

Research points to the fact that many supply chain use cases still rely on events that are stuck in the “analog world,” such as events and data occurring across physical products, packaging layers, and transportation assets.

A recent Gartner study concluded that from 2020 through 2022, 80 percent of critical supply chain technology initiatives to improve transparency remain in their infancy. These initiatives have surfaced significant data quality issues and inconsistencies which need to be addressed.

Technology to the rescue

There are several touch points in the food supply chain where human capital is significantly invested. Each of these points provides the opportunity to improve our ability to capture “good” data. It is our opinion based on learnings that providing the right tools goes a long way here.

Technology has come further along in providing these tools today.

Check out Augmented Reality here! With the ability to capture data – images, video and audio – during the course of executing your tasks, this treasure trove of data bridges the gaps seen between various handoffs in the supply chain. Equip your technicians with this capability and it provides a very efficient way to collect data at various points in your processes. Such data once collected can be post-processed in a number of ways. Existing material records can be updated in your ERP systems as part of the tracking updates. Data can be analyzed for trends to identify outliers. Going even further, machine learning techniques can be applied to this data to identify potential issues early on.

We see using augmented reality (AR) based processes as a cost-effective way to address some of critical challenges around processes which are still paper-driven and in the “analog world”.

From a food safety perspective, participants across the supply chain (starting from the growers and all way upstream to the finished product) must have consistent processes to assess risk factors, auditing best practices, proper handling procedures and good traceback systems.

Operationalizing Track and Trace

Using AR based process flows allows for consistent execution, real-time data capture, capturing a variety of data types and enabling data-driven decisions.

Process enablement using AR helps streamline existing disparate flows and eliminating redundant tasks. One can capture the operator point of view, be it in the form of images, video, audio, or text. Data captured can be further annotated and shared in real-time with other stakeholders.

Buyers can quality check produce at its source. As part of the process, images can be captured and using machine learning compared against a baseline to classify product quality and score on relevant product attributes. Problems identified can help address sourcing issues.

Upstream process engineers and auditors can be guided to consistently execute, record their tasks and findings by lot, batch, or bin. Data and insight gained is invaluable. Integrating such data with a track and trace system reduces the risk by having real-time access to genealogy data. Product at potential risk can be identified early on to take corrective action. Access to such data helps meet regulatory compliance in a timely manner.

It is true that AR hardware costs can be significant. As with any upcoming technology, there will be capital costs to consider. But innovative models are available today which can get you started without breaking the bank. The right use cases have proven that AR initiatives have a high return on investment (ROI).

Vieaura provides a cost-effective way for you get started on your track and trace initiatives. Our innovative model using AR can get you moving from concept to field deployment in a few weeks. All of this is possible today at an “operational cost”.

Reach to our team today and to see how you can get started in 3 easy steps.