January 23, 2019

Remote Monitoring Provides New Environmental Benefits

Written by Garret Weigel | Food Safety, Supply Chain

In our previous post, we outlined the environmental impact of using paper, but did not cover in detail how digital solutions can reduce waste and improve efficiencies that lead to lower carbon emissions. SmartSense solutions can be leveraged to improve our environment and reduce harmful emissions. From reducing food waste to improving fleet productivity, remote monitoring provides a new means of keeping our climate in-check.


Reducing Food Waste

Food waste is a huge problem. Significant greenhouse gas emissions are produced each year as a result of wasted food products, primarily in developed and emerging nations. Food waste looks different depending on where in the world you look: higher-income countries have problems with food waste in households, whereas lower-income countries have more waste by producers. This is an interesting dilemma, that requires unique solutions to each.


“If food waste were a country, it would come in third after the United States and China in terms of impact on global warming.”
– Frischmann, Chad. "The climate impact of the food in the back of your fridge" The Washington Post, July 31, 2018


Thankfully, IoT has brought on plenty of opportunity to leverage technology to reduce and prevent food waste. Too many foodservice organizations rely heavily on manual methods. This is an issue directly tied to food waste but isn’t so obvious: pen and paper methods are simply a means of identifying problems after they have done their damage, and are extraordinarily hard to leverage as a proactive solution. By identifying problems before they occur, say for example in the temperature control of perishable foods, foodservice professionals can dramatically reduce wasted food, leading to better environmental behaviors. Wasted food still requires the same amount of resources to produce as food that is consumed, which is an obvious point but important to callout nonetheless, making wasted food a net-loss for the environment.


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Driving Operational Efficiency

Efficiency can come in many forms. Take for instance, the supply chain. The supply chain is the process by which goods are produced and distributed for use, which requires vehicles to transport. Vehicles, as we all know, require fuel to move cargo. The meaning of efficiency in the supply chain can refer to two things: fuel efficiency, or the miles per gallon a truck gets, and fleet productivity, or maximizing the usage of trucks within a fleet.


Supply chain visibility provides a new means of managing fleets, which can improve efficiencies in fleet productivity. Dispatchers are able to complete more trips in a shorter amount of time, all while reducing mileage of each individual truck. By optimizing fleet routes and decreasing the number of miles on the road, the supply chain will reduce its carbon footprint and cut back on wasted resources.


As we mentioned above, there are an alarming number of businesses who rely on archaic methods of handling their business, ie. paper processes. This is problematic because these archaic methods require paper, which comes at the cost of killing trees for our use. Digital solutions are available today to replace these manual methods and reduce the amount of paper waste, as well as the ability to streamline tasks, leading to more efficient means of getting the same amount of work done. This allows truckers to spend less time on the road but still accomplish their tasks, all while improving fleet productivity and usage. Efficiency gains all around!


The E-waste Conundrum

Despite the clear benefit of reducing paper usage and saving trees, ample studies have not been conducted to review the amount of energy required to sustain a digital future. Used and unused data alike create burden on servers which require electricity, but more subtly, physical space. While our gut feeling may tell us that any reduction in paper is better for the environment, we must remain unbiased in our assessment of achieving the most environmentally conscience future.


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