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4 Emergent Technologies in Fresh Produce and How an Industry-Specific Food ERP Facilitates Their Use

4 Emergent Technologies in Fresh Produce and How an Industry-Specific Food ERP Facilitates Their Use


Explore Fresh Produce ERP

4 Emergent Technologies in Fresh Produce and How an Industry-Specific Food ERP Facilitates Their Use

28 Oct 2021

John McCurdy
A smart device assists in greenhouse management.

The use of technology in fresh produce is on the rise, and new applications for these tools are being developed every day. Your business stands to benefit from the incorporation of these advancements in your operations, but it isn’t as simple as purchasing the equipment or software and reaping the rewards.

You’ll need a strong digital foundation in order to leverage Internet of Things-enabled devices, the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain at your organization. A purpose-built fresh produce ERP solution is the ideal backbone for your modernization efforts and can facilitate the integration of each of these new tools within your facilities.

With this piece, we’ll be covering some of the concrete ways the four aforementioned technologies are being applied by fresh produce companies, as well as how an industry-specific food ERP system ties them all together.

1. Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes connected and smart devices that can collect and relay data without the need for human intervention. Considering the sheer number of variables that need to be monitored to grow and distribute top-tier fresh produce, these tools are ripe with potential uses for a business like yours.

Smart sensors can track temperature, humidity, soil acidity, nutrient density and other important factors and flow that information into your database in real time. That will allow you to gather actionable insights and fine-tune your conditions and processes to get higher quality produce and larger yields.

Additionally, by removing the possibility of operator error through automation, you can be assured of accuracy while relieving your employees of tedious record-keeping processes. Your workers will instead be able to concentrate on more important tasks, including intervention in the case that one of your readings deviates from the acceptable range.

IoT-enabled devices represent a huge leap forward in the collection of data and efficiency of operations. With a clear picture of your produce’s growing environment, you’ll be able to harvest healthier, tastier items in greater quantity, both pleasing your customers and boosting your bottom line.

2. The Cloud

The cloud, which enables computing processes via remote servers accessed wirelessly, has been a game-changer since it came on the scene. The business implications are immediately apparent—staff can now log in and use critical systems from anywhere, allowing them to be more effective and agile in their work.

In the fresh produce sector, the cloud lets your workers use handheld devices in the field and immediately update information on your business platform without needing to be in front of a computer terminal. The technology is also a major advantage in periods of disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic, as those personnel who do not need to be on-site can continue to be productive from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection and browser.

What’s more, organizations that choose to deploy their solutions via the cloud enjoy greater reliability and less up-front expenditure, as they avoid the need to purchase expensive new hardware. Moving to such a setup goes a long way in mitigating risk and improving your business’s ability to be flexible in changing circumstances.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence allows machines to learn over time by analyzing historical data over long periods and establishing how certain factors affect outcomes. For your fresh produce company, this can have significant implications for many of your processes from planting to distribution.

Predictive analytics is one of the areas in which artificial intelligence’s applications can have a substantial impact. Through the review of years of weather, soil and yield information, the ideal circumstances for produce growth can be determined and dialed in to optimize your results.

Demand forecasting is another application of AI that can provide organizations like yours with an invaluable advantage. By utilizing past sales results and accounting for the seasonal nature of certain fruit and vegetable varieties, the technology can help you achieve a greater understanding of how much to plant and ship to stores.

One final way in which artificial intelligence serves fresh produce businesses is digital imaging analysis. Through the process of evaluating massive quantities of visual representations of products, AI systems can identify the key characteristics based on the type of item and flag issues with appearance and quality so that blemished, malformed or damaged goods can be rerouted or eliminated.

4. Blockchain

A trending topic in the financial world, blockchain technology is likely to also have a big impact on the food and beverage industry, including the fresh produce segment. The technology’s most apparent application will be in the storage and communication of product data across the supply chain, which will set a new standard for total traceability.

Key characteristics—from matters as simple as item count and weight to more nuanced indicators like an organic certification—can be captured permanently using the blockchain, and they remain unchangeable once finalized, eliminating the possibility of tampering. The information can also be made available to everyone involved in the goods’ productions, as the architecture provides for complete transparency.

Being prepared in the case of a food safety emergency is absolutely crucial in an era where consumers and regulatory bodies alike are demanding the utmost care in production and handling to prevent negative health outcomes, and blockchain can be a lifesaver on this front, too. With all records fully digitized and assured of accuracy, affected items can be tracked back to their source within seconds, and contaminated goods downstream can be flagged for removal.

One final benefit of blockchain to mention is its positive effects on efficiency. The ledger that tracks all product information is updated in real time, recording critical tracking points and transactions that can be referenced as necessary, ensuring all partners both upstream and downstream have the information they need as soon as it’s available.

Integrating New Tools with a Fresh Produce ERP Foundation

Each of these technologies can be leveraged for impressive results in fresh produce, but to properly integrate them in your day-to-day operations, you’ll need a foundation for digital transformation that really suits your sector’s specific needs. A fresh produce ERP solution is the best choice when it comes to putting that fundamental piece in place.

As an all-in-one, cross-functional platform for your entire organization, an ERP system can dramatically improve outcomes all on its own. It’s crucial, though, to select an offering that is tailored to not just food businesses, but fresh produce—only with such a solution will you have the tools to tackle unique challenges like consignment tracking and farmland management.

Advanced options like Aptean's produce ERP go a step further by facilitating the use of the technologies discussed here. Easy integration with IoT- and AI-enabled devices makes their incorporation much simpler, and our solution can be deployed entirely from the cloud, leveraging the power of our redundant servers and know-how of dedicated IT teams to keep the platform reliable.

What’s more, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 framework of our offerings makes blockchain integration possible, meaning your company can be on the cutting-edge with this revolutionary new way of tracking and transmitting data. With an Aptean solution implemented and our experienced professionals on your side, you’ll be ready to push forward into a new tech-powered future.

Want to hear more about how Aptean Food & Beverage ERP will help your fresh produce business achieve ambitious goals? Contact us today.

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