AUSTRALIA – Coles, the leading supermarket chain in Australia, has used Internet of Things (IoT) technology to digitize its supply chain, leveraging a Loscam and Thinxtra solution to track and quantify shock for 4,500 smart food bins that transport poultry between farms and its distribution center.

“Coles, as an iconic Australian brand, has been able to deploy Internet of Things technology to achieve economic viability and operational scalability through streamlining its critical supply chain operations.

“The IoT-powered smart food bins give full traceability of quality assurance and efficiency within the protein cold chain, all the while saving Coles business costs by avoiding unnecessary damages and better pooling equipment for transport,” said Nicholas Lambrou, CEO of Thinxtra.

Coles unveiled a comprehensive digital transformation strategy that includes strengthening key supply chains, including the Protein Cold Chain, which is in charge of obtaining and stocking chicken.

The objective was to decrease the number of lost food bins, determine whether and where these assets were being destroyed, enhance equipment pooling for travel, and ultimately boost stock turnover.

Coles teamed with Loscam after a competitive tender since it was the only business that offered a creative IoT solution.

It subsequently introduced 4,500 smart, foldable food bins with Internet-connected devices that were made by Loscam.

The national, open 0G Network of Thinxtra is used by the devices to transmit location data in real time. The supermarket has access to this data through the specialized tracking platform LoscamOnline.

With fast insights into geolocation, geofencing, shock impact events, temperature, and bin state, the combined IoT solution has enabled a connected and transparent supply chain. Coles is now able to optimize transport routes and equipment pooling based on usage trends.

“The smart food bins ensure that we can track the poultry from the moment they are loaded by our suppliers at farms, right through to the time they reach our distribution center, reinforcing our food safety standards while saving time and minimizing waste,” said Larry Kavanagh, General Manager National Meat Processing, Coles.

“We partnered with Loscam to deploy a purpose-built device and portal system with Thinxtra connectivity, tailored to the specific needs of our Protein Cold Chain department, giving us full visibility into our supply chain operations in real-time. This is a crucial step to retain our customer-focused, quality-driven service that’s reflected in our supermarkets,” he added.

The IoT system from Loscam and Thinxtra offers data for every single smart food bin, not simply the trucks transporting them, as reported by INTELLIGENT CIO.

Coles is able to see the location of each individual asset while it is in motion and receives warnings whenever there is an impact, such as when bins are handled improperly, or when food bins are not where they should be.

This lowers avoidable losses and establishes stock quality responsibility backed by trustworthy real-time data.

Additionally, the ability to keep an eye on asset performance, including temperature levels, ensures food quality.

This significantly contributes to waste reduction and aids Coles in maintaining safe conditions throughout transit while using the least amount of energy feasible to satisfy its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

Foldable food bins and IoT technology work together in an inventive way to save the cost of the asset pool needed by 25% while increasing the volume of empty bins returned, cutting waste and cost.

The IoT technology is fast and simple to install and does not require up-front infrastructure setup investment. The devices are also battery-powered, with a life of up to five years, giving them the ability to operate independently of any power source.

“Historical location device solutions generally fell well short of market expectations and needs. With a complex large-scale organization like Coles, IoT has introduced the capabilities of asset management beyond traditional RFID or GPS tracking, with sensors that can provide insights to optimize logistical operations. 

“Powered by the national Thinxtra 0G Network, our IoT devices give Coles a sustainable, more efficient way of transporting perishable poultry produce and managing its returnable industrial packaging, all while reducing resource waste,” said Daniel Bunnett, Executive Vice President A/NZ at Loscam.

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