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Food retailer trials IoT-based predictive analytics

IT provider Empired has undertaken an Internet of Things (IoT) pilot with leading South Australian convenience retailer, Peregrine Corporation, using Microsoft technology. The aim is to enhance customers’ experience and mitigate everyday business risks.

The new solution leverages the IoT and data analytics for a dual benefit: instead of having Peregrine’s site team manually log the temperature of appliances and their operating specification (which they do every four hours), sensors handle it automatically, saving time and reducing the risk of error.

Data and IoT technology also helps reduce Peregrine’s enterprise risk, which is based on its full compliance with Australian Food Safety Standards. Local rules and regulations stipulate that any errors in the control of food storing appliances result in stock being destroyed to ensure the health of customers, which means ensuring appliances remain in operation within specified tolerances is essential for the company’s operations.

The pilot (currently in place at Peregrine’s OTR Hillbank store), was developed through collaboration of Empired and Microsoft. It works by using IoT sensors to automatically log the temperature of product storage systems, freeing staff for more value-adding tasks, reducing the chance of equipment failures, and delivering greater operational transparency. Sensor-collected data is then aggregated into the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, analysed for key staff with easy-to-understand visuals via Power BI.

By analysing the sensor-collected data using Microsoft Power BI, the team is able to assess the health status and where they require resources. This again results in a more efficient allocation of resources and pre-empts systems failures.

“When we started the project, we had two clear goals in mind,” said Peregrine’s CIO, Brendon Hore.

“We wanted to make operational site processes simpler for our team. Already, our staff are able to spend their time being analytical, rather than being data entry operators.

“The second goal of the project was to ensure that compliance to food safety standards was optimised with the most efficient use of resources. Again, it’s early days but the reduction in manual labour is already resulting in decreased human error.”

Sundeep Rehill, Practice Lead of Business Intelligence at Empired, led the deployment of the initial solution.

“The Azure IoT Suite is fundamental to the solution,” he said.

“With 30 sensors in the initial pilot, and moving forward where there may be hundreds or thousands of sensors, having a cloud-based central repository to manage the data is essential.”

Peregrine are evaluating expanding the solution to an additional 5-6 stores and ultimately to replicate the deployment across its entire network of over 130 convenience stores.

Image: Microsoft

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