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How IoT technology is revolutionising pest control to improve food safety

There are some alarming statistics out there on the impact of pests on business. 55% of all businesses report losing at least one working day per year as a result of a pest infestation and two fifths of all pest infestations last for over two weeks — a lengthy duration of time which would cause huge financial and reputational damage to any food business.

55% of all businesses report losing at least one working day per year as a result of a pest infestation

The business impact of pests, Rentokil

The problem is a frustrating one for anyone involved in managing facilities in the food industry, especially when food safety is key. Many organisations have preventive measures in place, but they still struggle to stop infestations because they don’t have the resources to monitor facilities 24/7.

Thankfully, the rise of new innovations in pest control technology and the internet of things presents a huge opportunity to redress the balance to improve pest control to support the need to mitigate risk and achieve food safety. 

At Rentokil, we’ve developed PestConnect — a digital pest control system for superior monitoring and control. Through the innovative use of iot enabled devices it allows businesses to protect their facilities 24/7, 365 days a year against costly pest infestations with even more security.

The IoT technology of and the food supply chain

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the global network of physical devices embedded with electronics, sensors and network connectivity that is transforming the way organisations work.

The IoT will have a great impact on the economy by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and facilitating new business models

Lead the IoT: Gartner Insights on How to Lead in a Connected World, Gartner

By 2020 it is estimated that the world will have over 20 billion connected devices. The IoT’s impact is already changing the way the food supply chain manage everything from agriculture to food processing and food retail. 

Already we are seeing the impact of the use of IoT technology in the food supply chain ranging from using drones in agriculture to provide visual oversing of crops to using hyperspectral scanning in food processing to prevent airborne cross contamination. But so much more can be done to harness the power of the Internet of Things to proactively manage risk and improve food safety.

Bringing this phenomenon to pest control, Rentokil has developed a digital pest control solution, PestConnect,  which uses the latest in iot technology to provide businesses with a superior pest management solutions to proactively support the need for risk management. 

IoT applications in pest control: Introducing PestConnect 

 PestConnect works via connected units with infrared sensors that monitor facilities 24 hours a day and pick up any activity from mice or rats. When a unit is activated, a message is transmitted to a Rentokil technician, who then follows up rapidly to treat and control the issue.

All of this information is then recorded on the secure myRentokil online customer portal — a unique, 24/7 reporting system that enables organisations proactively manage pests infestations by tracking trends and identify new risks across their operations in real-time.

Using IoT and big data to improve food safety

By utilising iot technology to its best advantage, by connecting both our pestconnect and myrentokil solutions together, we are able to provide customers a  portal which includes advanced analytics that allow food businesses to focus on the prevention of pest problems in new, innovative ways. 

This is being achieved by combining Rentokil’s vast knowledge of pest control with the data analysis expertise of organisations like Google, PA Consulting Group and Qlik. The cloud-based Qlik Sense platform provides visualisations of data collected from PestConnect and combines them with other relevant data sources such as mapping weather patterns with rodent behaviour. 

This will ultimately help providing the food supply chain improve their risk management procedures by taking a much more proactive approach to managing food safety risks across global supply chains.

Using IoT technology to improve food safety

In the future, it’s likely that the availability of new data collected by systems like PestConnect will lead to greater collaboration across the whole food industry.

Major industry groups recognise this already. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), for example, provides an international multi-stakeholder platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange and networking along the supply chain.

Governing authorities are also playing their part. In 2015, European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research programme called for proposals for a large-scale multinational, multi sector Internet of Things pilot project on smart farming and food security. It stated that IoT technologies have the potential of helping European farming and food sector face important challenges for the future through real-time monitoring, better decision making, and improved operations management of the whole value chain, from farm to fork.

Significantly, the European Commission is encouraging the participation of all the potential contributors that play an active role in the agro-food chain, including farmers, machinery suppliers, food processors, retailers, wholesalers and of course the scientists and IoT technology suppliers working in the food sector. Results will also be used to inform EU policy on farming, food safety and food security.

There’s little doubt: the rise of iot technology could have significant effects on food safety. Systems like PestConnect are detecting food safety threats as they happen and implementing control measures before threats can spread. Crucially, they are also leading us to the point where we can predict likely infestations and improve efficiency and business continuity in the process - ultimately helping to improve food safety and security across the supply chain.

Digital pest control: Stay one step ahead of pests

Our range of digital pest management solutions provide food businesses with new levels of efficiency and control

  • Superior 24/365 pest monitoring and control
  • Unparalleled insights from over 77,000 connected devices.
  • Data-driven preventative measures to help mitigate risk.
Find out more

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17 July 2019