In this post, Robert Wallace, VP of Product Management at Novolyze gives us his view on technology opportunities in Food Safety and Quality, answering the following question: What challenges is the industry facing and how can technology address them?
"The Food Safety and Quality (FSQ) industry is accelerating its digital transformation. The industry is seeing improvements in quality, production, revenue, and other areas due to the digital journey thus far. Alongside gains made with the digital journey, additional market forces are challenging our industry. Two challenges I've been contemplating are inflation and talent access. Challenges can be both a barrier and an incentive. Maybe urban legend, but if you Google "crisis" in Japanese, you will see it written with the words "danger" and "opportunity" together to create the word "crisis."
Inflation is creating margin compression (among other supply chain concerns), with technology assisting organizations in ameliorating some of the impacts. Inflation also reinforces efforts on cost concerns, efficiency, and waste reduction as food and beverage producers look to do more and spend less with the resources they already have. FSQ's digital journey has enabled organizations to realize gains in cost containment, improved efficiency, and reduced waste.
Additional pressure on FSQ comes from a growing lack of talent/skills, becoming a barrier to revenue growth and organizational stability. Talent access challenges create risk for any business to its revenue, quality, and a bevy of other performance measures. Talent access challenges can also create incentives for advancing the digital journey. "Danger" and "opportunity" again.
Can technology address the challenges the Food Safety and Quality industry is experiencing?
Yes. Both "danger" and "opportunity."
A few technologies have caught my attention as it relates to FSQ. We will briefly examine various technologies that, in a time of "danger", could represent "opportunity." In subsequent blogs, we will explore technologies further.
Electronic Forms (eForms)
We have learned a lot about how to get the data from paper to electronic form and ingest it into a database to create "knowledge you can use." There is a plethora of systems out there to help with this. Information Technology experts tell us that 80% of the data in a typical organizational ecosystem is unstructured. Digitizing the document that would usually go into a filing cabinet is a significant first step to developing knowledge.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP is a type of artificial intelligence (AI). One of the more exciting outcomes of NLP is taking gobs of unstructured data and turning it into knowledge. We use it all the time when we Google search. We could use it in FSQ to get those filing cabinets digitized and valuable for analytics.
A good friend is a big wig at a vast West Coast technology firm. He has a t-shirt that reads, "There is no cloud. It's one of my computers". In FSQ, "the cloud" represents a lower cost, lower risk, better-performing infrastructure to host our data, analytics, and SaaS solutions. Not burdened with CAPEX and IT teams, we leverage "somebody else's" computer for our own needs. Gartner tells us that in a few short years, 45% of IT spending on infrastructure, application software, and business process outsourcing will be "in the cloud."
Real-time Location Services (RTLS)
RTLS can create a "sensing network" within a facility, like a plant or a hospital. The sensing network can create "virtual locations" using sound waves, invisible light beams, or radio waves (i.e., Bluetooth). One of my RTLS patents is of the Bluetooth variety. Now you can track and find people and equipment. You can also "test for proximity" to trigger a workflow, like, did Mr. Smith wash his hands? How long was Mr. Smith in the room, in front of the equipment, at the sink, etc.? Yes, hand hygiene is still a thing in healthcare. Globally.
There are several other technology topics that we could add to our conversation. In subsequent blogs, I'll add to the topic by focusing on the following:
Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
Robotic Processing Automation
PLC (IoT) - gather information from your equipment
And then, let's drill into specific technologies in more detail. Please share and comment on any technology that's caught your attention. We've just scratched the surface of technologies we can use to enhance the digital journey of Food Safety and Quality.
Want to share or comment on the technologies mentioned by Rob?