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There are some alarming statistics on the impact of pests on businesses. 55% of all businesses report losing at least one working day per year due to a pest infestation. Two-fifths of all pest infestations last for over two weeks – causing substantial financial and reputational damage to any food business.
The problem is frustrating for anyone involved in managing facilities in the food industry, especially when food safety is key. Many organisations have preventive measures in place but struggle to stop infestations because they don’t have the resources to monitor facilities 24/7.
Thankfully, the rise of innovations in pest control technology and the Internet of Things presents a considerable opportunity to redress the balance to improve pest control and 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. The innovative use of IoT-enabled devices allows businesses to protect their facilities 24/7, 365 days a year, against costly pest infestations with even more security.
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.
By 2020, it’s estimated that the world will have over 20 billion connected devices. The IoT’s impact is already changing how the food supply chain manages everything from agriculture to food processing and retail.
We are already seeing the impact 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 much more can be done to harness the power of the Internet of Things to proactively manage risk and improve food safety.
The IoT is at the forefront of integrated pest management (IPM). IPM provides a solid pest management solution by employing a combination of practices to eliminate the root causes of pest infestations. The IoT allows us to automate time-consuming aspects of IPM, such as monitoring and response and makes the process more accurate, timely, and less of a burden.
For example, IoT technology is used in sensors for the remote monitoring of pests. Rodent traps can be fitted with sensors that alert pest control technicians as soon as a pest is detected and transmit this information to a customer dashboard. This reduces the need for timely manual inspections and random site visits. The data gathered can also help identify pest trends and predict pest attacks.
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 follows up rapidly to treat and control the issue.
This information is then recorded on the secure myRentokil online customer portal. This unique, 24/7 reporting system enables organisations to proactively manage pest infestations by tracking trends and identifying new risks across their operations in real time.
By utilising IoT technology to its best advantage, by connecting our PestConnect and myRentokil solutions together, we can provide customers with a portal that includes advanced analytics that allow food businesses to focus on the prevention of pest problems in new, innovative ways.
This is 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 help 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.
In the future, the availability of new data collected by systems like PestConnect will likely lead to greater collaboration across the whole food industry.
Major industry groups recognise this already. For example, the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) 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, the 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 to help the 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 inform EU policy on farming, food safety and food security.
There’s little doubt: the rise of IoT technology could significantly affect food safety. Systems like PestConnect detect food safety threats and implement 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.
Technology and data-driven digital pest monitoring for effective, smart pest management solutions