How IoT is advancing pest control innovations to improve food safety

The Internet of Things is transforming the way we interact with the world. It connects a wide range of sensors and devices, collects and stores the data they generate for analysis, and provides new insights into the world around us. The types of data already being collected in industry includes tracking and environmental variables to monitoring of factory systems and processes.

In the food industry, there are numerous applications that can improve food safety from the farm to the consumer. One of the most important aspects of food safety in global food supply chains is pest control. Changes in the way food is produced, sourced and distributed, along with climate change, are increasing the risks to food safety from pests.

Added to this are more stringent regulations for food safety and changes in consumer demands that are driving food producers to find more efficient and sustainable ways to ensure food quality and safety. Changes in consumer habits, such as online shopping, are leading to increasing use of automation in the supply chain, which gives pests the opportunity to thrive where there are few or no humans around to notice pest infestations or deter pests such as rats and mice.

IoT technology allows businesses in the food sector to address these food safety challenges. IoT devices can monitor and report pest activity in real time and collect data that provides new insights into pest behaviour that can help improve pest control and food safety.

 

Remote monitoring and control of pests

IoT-connected pest-control devices give the ability to gather data automatically from devices placed at strategic points around a food business. Sensors in the devices can automatically gather data, such as the presence of a pest, using an infra-red sensor to detect body heat or the triggering of a trap that shows a pest has been captured.

These connected devices can also automatically report other data that reduces the need for technician visits, such as battery level and the operational status of the device. This sensor data, when sent to the central server, can generate alerts for a technician to visit the site to deal with the pest and reset the trap and also inform the customer of pest activity on their premises.

Connected devices can operate autonomously 24 hours a day, reducing the need for human intervention and cutting costs for the customer. For modern food businesses, such as automated warehouses where there are few humans to monitor pests or large complex facilities, they provide an ideal solution for pest control. They can operate continuously in remote, difficult-to-access locations without interrupting the operation of the facility.

Collated technician data

Pest-control technicians can use mobile devices to enter data gathered from surveying customer premises. This includes their assessment of the structural weaknesses in buildings that allow pest infiltration and infestation, signs of pest activity and their specific recommendations for the customer.

This data is automatically sent to cloud storage systems where it is combined with the automatically-collected data from the IoT pest-control devices to provide a rich source of data and descriptive information for improving pest management.

Advanced data management

A key part of IoT systems is the ability to manage the large amounts of data collected and make intelligent use of it to improve processes and procedures. Basic data can be analysed to visualise pest numbers and trends in charts using customer portals for operational management and reporting. This data also assists with auditing and compliance reporting for the highly legislated food industry.

Software for big-data analytics can give more sophisticated insights into pest trends and behaviour using much larger, regional or global data sets that could cover thousands of sites and tens of thousands of devices. It can also import data from other sources, such as temperature or rainfall, to find hidden relationships to other factors that can help predict pest risks to improve pest-control planning.

New insights from data on this scale can help address many pest challenges facing the food industry at all points along the food supply chain, from food producers to the consumer. They will improve the ability to identify places and practices that are vulnerable to pest infestations and to take preventive action to reduce the risks to food safety.

Digital pest control solutions

Rentokil’s digital pest control systems include the PestConnect range of IoT-enabled  pest-control devices that allow you to monitor your food processing facilities with maximum efficiency and minimum effort. Our award-winning digital solutions offer 24/7 remote monitoring across your locations, with instant alerts and rapid response to resolve issues immediately.  The myRentokil customer portal provides a continuous feed of data and insights, to help you maintain a pest-free environment – at all times.  So, while we’re taking care of your pest management needs, you can concentrate on business.

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Harry Wood

Harry Wood is a Technical Content Specialist at Rentokil Initial, creating long-form content across the organisation's online channels.A writer and editor for 30 years, Harry started out in an academic environment as an expert in tropical forestry and environment before moving into the IT, healthcare and medical technology industry and finally entering the world of pest and hygiene in 2015.A return to his roots writing about wood-boring insect pest, or is it boring Wood writing about insect pest?

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