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Connecting paddock to plate with IoT

  • IoT is revolutionising the ways we understand agricultural supply chains, enabling produce to be delivered more effectively.
  • When implementing cross-supply chain tracking with multiple stakeholders, third parties can help synchronise different data sets and technologies.
  • Evolutions in IoT and networking technology mean modern devices can have multi-year battery lives. 

Discover how the Internet of Things (IoT) can help at every step of the supply chain to deliver better, safer produce when and where it’s needed.

Time was, Aussie farmers would see their produce for the last time as it passed out the front gate. This is no longer the case, as the journey from paddock to plate is more connected than ever, with technologies including IoT and cloud computing enabling a digital supply chain that provides visibility and data for all stakeholders, enabling farmers to track their produce all the way to market.

“Today, we have the ability to track supply chains at a mass scale that hasn’t been possible before,” explains Praveen Senadheera, IoT Specialist at Telstra.

Knowing where that produce is at every step along the way allows providers and other stakeholders to be confident in the quality and condition on arrival, which in turn addresses growing consumer interest in food origin and production. It also yields an abundance of data that can improve operations and inform business decision-making.

“It means we can generate insights and even make predictions from a vast array of data that enables stakeholders across the supply chain to tap into new areas of opportunity. These new areas of opportunity range from improving traceability, reducing waste to even tapping into new markets,” Senadheera says.

The beauty of being digital

IoT enables a digital supply chain, providing connectivity for maximum visibility, with the right data flowing in real time. In terms of sophistication, it’s a long way from merely checking in at intervals to see if stock has arrived (or not).

The availability, accuracy and consistency of information in a digital supply chain is superior to secondhand tracking information. “From farm to plate, products change hands a number of times. If you are the retailer or end consumer you are relying on downstream stakeholders to have done the tracking in the first place and then have the ability to share the tracking data with you,” Senadheera says.

“Usually there is already a lot of data available from various traditional sources such as suppliers, transportation and logistics providers, distributors and retailers, but they are spread across different functional areas, have different systems and the data exists in different formats, such as spreadsheets, invoices and the like.”

A digital supply chain enabled by IoT can help overcome such challenges, reducing the reliance of human intervention and enabling automated tracking at scale. It also better enables a truly data-driven approach to operations.

Organisations are very keen to use relevant data from the supply chain. In our recent 2018 Data Driven Supply Chain report, more than 200 supply chain influencers were interviewed about their top business priorities and the perceived benefits of a data driven approach to supply chain management. It found a strong appetite to utilise data for general business benefits, competitive advantage and better decision-making.  

“Today, we have the ability to track supply chains at a mass scale that hasn’t been possible before.” 

- Praveen Senadheera, IoT Specialist at Telstra

End-to-end visibility

Using IoT, it’s easier than ever to achieve visibility throughout the entire supply chain, from the farm through the logistics and distribution to warehouses and retail and even where they get consumed.

“To track products end to end through the supply chain you actually need to be able to track both outdoors, while being harvested for example, then in transit, as well as indoors where they may well be in storage”

Australia’s largest IoT network covers more than 3 million square kilometres. Extensive network coverage means, more often than not, that even the most convoluted of supply chains can be connected throughout. Telstra's Track and MonitorTM services are underpinned by a range of wireless technologies including CAT M1 IoT Network, LTE,  Bluetooth and WiFi.

“With advances in electronics, processing and how some of the networks mentioned function, you can now have devices that are small enough to go on pallets and crates but also have enough battery life to last in the field for a number of years,” Senadheera says.

 Silver lining

The availability of cloud-based solutions to process analyse all the vast amount of tracking data coming through and only send the relevant insights to appropriate stakeholders at the right time has also improved.

“It has improved to an extent that you can now track, assess and even predict flow on effects before they happen,” says Senadheera. Telstra operates the largest tracking and monitoring IoT network in the country so we can provide end to end solutions for tracking goods across the supply chain.

In fact, with unsurpassed network coverage, cloud-based platform and analytics Telstra is best placed to assist all stakeholders along the supply chain with collecting the data and generating the insights they need for efficient operations. 

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of agriculture in Australia, where history and economy combine with immense pride. There is intense interest in maintaining high standards and the nation’s worldwide reputation for quality, which can be managed more confidently than ever before with the visibility, management and operational efficiencies that IoT brings to the table. 

We have a wealth of knowledge and experience in supporting businesses to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and deliver better customer experiences across the supply-chain.

Find out more

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