While there’s been a lot of coverage of transformative technologies—such as blockchain, cloud computing, robotics, driverless vehicles and drones, and more—there have been far fewer case studies sharing the projects, and their outcomes, undertaken by early adopters. To that end, MHI Solutions magazine set out to share insights into “NextGen Technologies in Action” in the first quarter issue of 2019.
Among the featured examples is Walmart’s new Food Traceability Initiative, developed in partnership with IBM to leverage its IBM Food Trust blockchain platform. Initially focused on suppliers of fresh, leafy greens to both Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, those companies will be required to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information using the IBM Food Trust blockchain network by September 2019.
“We’re committed to providing our customers with safe, quality foods,” says Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety for Walmart. “Our customers deserve a more transparent supply chain. We felt the one-step-up and one-step-back model of food traceability was outdated for the 21st century. This is a smart, technology-supported move that will greatly benefit our customers and transform the food system, benefitting all stakeholders.”
As noted by Yiannas, today the most frequently used process to address food contamination issues in the industry is “one-step-up and one-step-back” traceability.
“If you think about the food system, it’s pretty complex,” says Yiannas. “It involves farmers, processors and distributors—and the way traceability is done today, each segment of the food system does it their own way. Most actually do it on paper or on systems that don’t speak to each other, and so you can never have a full view of what’s happening in the food system.”
Yiannas says that’s why Walmart spent a year working with IBM and 11 other food companies to develop and test the open-source blockchain-enabled food traceability network built. In an initial pilot conducted by Walmart and IBM, the amount of time it took the retailer to trace an item from store to farm was reduced from seven days to just 2.2 seconds.
Walmart’s aim is to now extend the technology in order to help reduce the number of people who fall ill during food incidents while at the same time reducing losses for retailers and suppliers during a recall.
To read the full article, as well as additional case studies about augmented reality (AR), network optimization and cloud computing, and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), click here.