How LoRaWAN™ is Impacting the Food Industry
LoRaWAN™ is a cutting-edge technology experiencing rapid adoption across a wide variety of industries. Below we will quickly explore what LoRaWAN™ is, its benefits, and how it is particularly revolutionizing the global food industry, from farm to table.
What is LoRaWAN™?
LoRaWAN™ was developed in 2009 by friends Oliver Seller and Nicholas Sornin while working at Semtech. Sornin and Seller’s radio modulation technique, LoRa®, is widely used today as a low-cost and low-powered way to connect IoT devices to the internet. LoRaWAN™ is a networking protocol built on top of LoRa®. The descriptive term is derived from LOng-RAnge Wide Area Network.
The combination of LoRa® and LoRaWAN™ enables communication between your data-collecting smart device and the Internet. Today the terms LoRa® and LoRaWAN™ are often used interchangeably.
How LoRaWAN™ Works + Its Strengths
LoRaWAN™ devices connect to the internet via LoRa® radio signals. They are not meant for the continuous streaming of data, but rather the transfer of data at set intervals of time, or after a specific event occurs. In between data transmissions, a LoRaWAN™ device will go into a deep hibernation state to conserve battery power.
This extremely low-power consumption and limited power requirements during data transfer are the largest advantages of LoRaWAN™. Security is another benefit since LoRaWAN™ devices can transmit fully encrypted data, while in transit and at rest, and do not connect directly to your network like WiFi wireless devices would.
LoRaWAN™ devices are a wonderful solution, especially for outdoor use cases where they can communicate over long distances, unencumbered by radio interference. With LoRaWAN™, hundreds of unique devices can quickly and securely communicate across a large warehouse, factory, farm, or city.
LoRaWAN™ in Farming
Farming is currently buzzing with innovation, required for it to meet the ever increasing global demand for food as the number of individual farms reduces. The agricultural communities left standing are being forced to adapt and adopt innovative technology to increase their farms’ output and meet the rising demand.
Precision farming is one of the many profound changes helping today’s farmers maximize the efficiency of their land. Precision farming includes smart devices from telemetry-based tracking systems in large farm machinery, to tiny IoT sensors throughout the farm. Each device, large or small collects and transmits vast amounts of data, providing detailed insights into the efficiency of a farm.
This real-time data allows farmers to make informed, strategic decisions and adjustments to very particular areas of their farm. Before the invention of LoRaWAN™ or IoT devices, farmers simply relied on local best practices, historical execution from their farm, or even instinct to make broad-stroke adjustments from year to year.
Modern farmers are leveraging smart IoT devices to drastically reduce costs and optimize their yields. LoRaWAN™ IoT sensors help them autonomously and remotely monitor a variety of data points across their farms. These new sensors can measure everything from soil moisture and temperature, to the location of equipment and livestock, or even monitoring CO2 emissions or crop growth.
LoRaWAN™ sensors are ideal for in-field data tracking because they thrive in outdoor environments and operate wirelessly on batteries that can last many years on one charge. With a quick and easy installation process, LoRaWAN™ empowers farmers to effectively link hundreds of distributed IoT sensors to one or a handful of gateways across expansive farms.
LoRaWAN™ in Food Packaging & Distribution
After harvesting, food is transported from farms to packaging and distribution centers. Tragic quantities of food are discarded every day, never reaching consumers due to improper temperature regulation during transport. IoT sensors reliably monitor the conditions of perishable cargo during this critical step in the supply chain, to reduce food waste. LoRaWAN™ enabled sensors are used in temperature controlled transport vehicles and can even be applied to individual boxes to ensure food safety standards are maintained during transport.
Once the food arrives at the processing plants, the building is likely to use smart devices and equipment throughout their facilities. IoT sensors ensure processing and packaging machines maximize their output by continually operating at peak performance. This type of performance data reduces emergency maintenance and increases the entire plant’s efficiency and safety standards.
LoRaWAN™ in Grocery Stores and Restaurants
The final step in the food chain before reaching consumers is typically a restaurant or grocery store. Like others in the supply chain, restaurants and grocery stores can place LoRaWAN™ sensors in their industrial refrigerators and freezers to ensure food safety and quality are maintained.
Temperature and humidity monitoring at this stage was previously a manual and labor intensive process. It required an employee to observe and manually write down the temperatures of each refrigerator or freezer unit, every few hours. By implementing smart LoRaWAN™ sensors, restaurants and grocery stores can automate their temperature logging to run seamlessly in the background. The data can be collected every few minutes instead of every few hours, and has the benefit of tracking conditions even when the store or restaurant is closed. With this level of precision, team members can be alerted immediately, practicing preventative and predictive maintenance to reduce or completely avoid large issues that will inevitably arise.
ConnectedFresh LoRaWAN™ Solution
ConnectedFresh is a startup that supports food safety through the use of LoRaWAN sensors to businesses across the food chain. Their users can set parameters for automatic alerts to be sent to the right people as soon as a problem arises. No more flipping through stacks of paper at the end of the month to try and find problems with their cooling units.
ConnectedFresh users are empowered to make informed decisions from their real-time data. Now, through companies like ConnectedFresh, businesses along the food chain are able to ensure food safety by switch from a reactive mode to proactive and predictable one.
As consumers, we all rely on the quality and safety of the food we purchase, both raw and prepared. As you can see, LoRaWAN™ technology is bringing safety, reliability and a more sustainable future to the entire food chain, from farm to table. Farmers, distributors, retailers and consumers all benefit from the real-time data collected through LoRaWAN™ every step of the way, ensuring the food we consume is fresh and safe to eat.