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IoT Data Management Targets Food Safety at Processing Plants

Somax offers a maintenance-management system for Internet of Things data that links to a sanitation department and offers prescriptive maintenance, follow-up sanitizing and quality control to help prevent contaminations.
By Claire Swedberg
May 13, 2018

The Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to help boost food safety from farm to consumer, and the technology development and deployment have been taking place on multiple fronts: from smart-farming tools to cold-chain management. But many contaminations take place at food-processing plants, and IoT technology is also being used to prevent these incidents by enabling the monitoring of equipment and conditions as products are processed. This alerts companies when a potential for contamination is present, such as with warm temperatures or the presence of fluids.

Food processors typically have stringent food-safety guidelines in place, and many use sensors to monitor conditions. But the actual following-through on food-safety recommendations—such as the British Regulatory Compliance (BRC) and Safe Quality Food (SQF) standards—may be a weak link for many companies, says Jay Wright, the sales and marketing VP of maintenance management software company Somax.

While food-processing equipment is becoming smarter and can capture relevant data about conditions, there is still little consistency in how that information is stored and accessed. Food-processing plants also face an internal challenge related to the separation of their maintenance and sanitization departments, Wright says. The two departments often operate independently, he explains, so when maintenance is conducted, the need for sanitization follow-up might not be communicated to the proper individuals, and records of what has occurred may be incomplete. Maintenance can often introduce sanitation problems in the food-processing operations.

Somax has been providing maintenance-management solutions for the food- and beverage-processing industry for the past three decades. During the last five years, however, it has focused on linking maintenance and sanitization data to prevent contaminations, as well as on offering IoT-based data management. Most recently, the firm began offering sensors—64 different types so far—that track conditions such as temperature, humidity and vibrations, as well as door-closure data, all collected wirelessly.

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