Australian supermarket giant Coles has increased transparency and procurement efficiency in its protein cold chain, for sourcing and stocking poultry, with an Internet of Things (IoT) network of smart bins.
A partnership with Loscam and Thinxtra allows the supermarket chain to monitor the location of 4,500 smart food bins moving poultry between farms and its distribution centre.
The technology reports on the condition of the stock and temperatures, minimising lost or damaged food bins and reducing risks of unnecessary waste, Coles says.
Nicholas Lambrou, CEO at Thinxtra, says the solution has reduced the cost of the asset pool required by Coles by 25 per cent.
“This was achieved by tripling the amount of empty bins returned and enabling faster stock movement with less bins,” he said.
“Procurement efficiency is achieved through the combined impact of faster stock turnaround and reduced wastage.”
Under a $2.5 billion company-wide digital transformation announced last year, Coles is moving to increase the resilience of its critical supply chains.
The goal was to reduce the number of food bins it loses, understand whether and where these assets are being damaged, improve pooling of equipment for transit, and ultimately increase stock turnaround.
The smart and foldable food bins manufactured by Loscam are fitted with Internet-connected devices, communicating location data in real time using Thinxtra’s national, public 0G Network.
The solution’s insights allows Coles to optimise transport routes and equipment pooling based on usage patterns.
“The smart food bins ensure that we can track the poultry from the moment they are loaded by our suppliers at farms, right through to the time they reach our distribution centre, reinforcing our food safety standards, while saving time and minimising waste,” said Larry Kavanagh, General Manager National Meat Processing, Coles.
Loscam and Thinxtra’s IoT solution provides data for each individual smart food bin. Coles can view the location of each individual asset in transit, and get alerts when food bins aren’t where they should be or if they’ve been mishandled. The battery life for the devices lasts up to five years.
The ability to maintain safe conditions during transit with the lowest possible energy consumption to support its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) objectives, Coles says.
Daniel Bunnett, Executive Vice President A/NZ at Loscam, said the solution was also being used to minimise packaging waste.
“With a complex large-scale organisation like Coles, IoT has introduced the capabilities of asset management beyond traditional RFID or GPS tracking, with sensors that can provide insights to optimise logistical operations. “Powered by the national Thinxtra 0G Network, our IoT devices give Coles a sustainable, more efficient way of transporting perishable poultry produce, and managing its returnable industrial packaging, all while reducing resource waste,” he said.