IoT may help the food industry deal with COVID-19. With the novel coronavirus surpassing half a million deaths, business as usual is no longer an option. From airports and hospitals to industrial manufacturers, companies around the world are on the lookout for new solutions to stay afloat. Most future-oriented enterprises are turning to IoT, as it solely provides a wealth of options to fight back. The food industry is no stranger to this phenomenon.
Indeed, with COVID-19 spreading like wildfire in the US, the food service industry is paying the highest price. As social distancing is in force, food services workers need to embrace technological solutions to enforce the policy. Which, according to the Food and Drug Administration, is not always possible. Kitchen, after all, do not usually offer that much space to maneuver. Restaurants are not known for being places of solitude.
Since before the pandemic, IoT hardware and software services already played a (small) role in the food service business. This is especially true when it comes to temperature measurement. Food temperature control has always been of paramount importance to ensure food safety. A common issue for restaurants, in fact, is the “danger zone”, i.e. the temperature range between 4°C and 60°C. At this range, bacteria grow rapidly and may cause food poisoning or other sort of food-borne illness. Food service workers must therefore pay particular attention and take the temperature at regular intervals to avoid contamination. IoT-enabled temperature trackers can enable remote monitoring, reducing the need for employees to regularly check the temperature crowding the kitchen.
Another aspect of the food service business where IoT can really be of help is asset tracking. Specifically, tracking of hand sanitizers. Small IoT-powered RFID sticks can easily help restaurant keep track of their supplies. Also, they can show managers how many are in stock on a computer or mobile dashboard. Potentially, order of said sanitizers might be automated, so as to never have to deal with shortages.
To complete the picture, computer vision and edge computing can make enforcing social distancing effortless. Real-time video monitoring through in-house cameras connected to a nearby gateway give managers a way to verify the distance between people with mathematical precision. If we’re speaking about thermal cameras, they can even instantaneously detect signs of fever.
Bottom line: IoT may truly help the food industry deal with COVID-19