Sensor Networks and The Food Industry
Fergus O’Reilly, Cork Institute of Technology
Martin Connolly, Sykoinia Limited
REALWSN'05 - Workshop on Real-World Wireless Sensor
Networks, Stockholm, Sweden
June 20-21 2005 1
The Food Industry & its Scandals
Software in the Food Industry
Sensor Networks for Food Processing
Sensor Networks for Growers
Self Inflicted Barriers to Entry
The Sykoinia Solution
June 20-21 2005 2
The Food Industry and its Scandals
Several scandals have shaken consumer
Worldwide problem – Japan, China, EU and USA
all affected in recent years.
Affects all sectors of the industry from
production to retail and distribution.
June 20-21 2005 3
“Shellfish company devastated by 'bug'
report”, Irish Examiner, 26th March 2002
“U.S. to block EU poultry, pork due to dioxin
scare”, CNN 3rd June 1999
“Premier Foods faces £100m bill for Sudan 1”,
The London Times 26th February 2005
“One Sweet Mess”, Time Magazine, 21st July 2002
June 20-21 2005 4
The Oyster Farm
In 2002, a Hong Kong restaurant
suffered an outbreak of the
‘Winter Vomiting Bug’.
Traced back to oysters bred in
Oysters fed on waste from a
…suffering from an outbreak…
…transmitted to the food chain.
June 20-21 2005 5
The 1999 Belgian Dioxin Scandal
Cancer causing dioxins found in
animal feed for pigs and chickens.
High economic,legal and political
Ban on Belgian food exports to
EU Legal action against Belgian
Ousting of outgoing government in
June 20-21 2005 6
Can these incidents be prevented?
Many incidences of negligence and even fraud…
…but more are due to error and sheer misfortune
Wireless Sensor Networks can potentially help to
alleviate these incidents.
Can be used for monitoring production
conditions, detecting presence of agents etc.
June 20-21 2005 7
Software in the Food Industry
Software in the Food Industry is mainly ERP
Microsoft technology prevalent.
Used for record keeping.
Rarely plays a role in the production process.
Some use of 802.11 and RFID but at a very early
stage of adoption.
June 20-21 2005 8
Smart Sensors & Food Processing (1)
Precedent for Smart Sensors
…detecting biological and
Applicability to the Food
Could be used for detecting
unwanted agents in food.
June 20-21 2005 9
Smart Sensors & Food Processing (2)
Constancy in environmental
conditions critical for many
E.g. raw meat, chill chain etc.
Manual Sample of metrics such as
temperature currently taken.
Smart Sensors could be deployed
throughout the food chain.
A better standard of monitoring
than is currently available.
June 20-21 2005 10
Smart Sensors for Growers
Vineyards in California and Australia have used
Monitor attributes such as temperature and soil
Can give vine growers better information about
Can also be used to anticipate problems such as
the presence of pests.
Less expensive than traditional climate sensors.
Can also be used for other crops – commercial
apple growing, wheat production etc.
June 20-21 2005 11
Case Study: The Wine Industry (1)
Sensor Network used to monitor
vineyard by Pickberry in California.
Used to monitor environmental
Soil moisture, rainfall, wind velocity
and direction, and air and soil
temperature all monitored
Sensor Networks can play a critical
role in vineyard cost management.
Loss of a crop could cost Pickberry
US$4,000-10,000 a ton.
June 20-21 2005 12
Case Study: The Wine Industry (2)
Most focus is on vine growing but
this is only one stage of the wine
Use Smart sensors to monitor
temperature during vinification (the
conversion of grape juice into wine).
June 20-21 2005 13
Case Study: The Wine Industry (3)
The addition of Sulphur Dioxide
during fermentation must be strictly
Can also be used to detect the
presence of acids and tannins.
Can also be used during storage.
Cellars must be kept at a strict
temperature and humidity.
June 20-21 2005 14
Case Study: The Chill Chain (1)
Temperature of frozen foods
must be maintained at a
constant level from initial
processing to final display by a
Applies particularly to meat
Known as the ‘Chill Chain’.
2 main steps…
June 20-21 2005 15
Case Study: The Chill Chain (2)
Primary chilling relates to
removing the heat from the
carcass before it can be further
processed or shipped.
Once a previously chilled produced
has been cut, minced, wrapped or
cooked secondary chilling must
Vital for ensuring that a product
remains at a constant temperature
June 20-21 2005 16
Case Study: The Chill Chain (3)
Mistakes & errors prevalent.
Shelf life being reduced to a
quarter of its potential.
Opportunity for sensor
networks in primary and
…not only to monitor
temperature but also to
June 20-21 2005 17
Barriers for use in the Food Industry (1)
Potential for using Sensor
Networks in the Food Industry.
Unlikely to be deployed on a
widespread basis given the
current state of operation.
Reliability problems – 65% of
sensors deployed in redwood
forests in California never
returned data (UC Berkeley).
June 20-21 2005 18
Barriers for use in the Food Industry (2)
Difficult to deploy and use.
Data interpretation and
analysis tools are limited.
Difficult to cluster the
Even IT Professionals in the
Food Industry will encounter
Hampers adoption of the
June 20-21 2005 19
The Sykoinia Solution (1)
by the SenSure
analysed by the
June 20-21 2005 20
The Sykoinia Solution (2)
Can be viewed
through a .NET
Easy to use and
easy to deploy.
June 20-21 2005 21
The Sykoinia Solution (3)
June 20-21 2005 22
Serious challenges for food
Quality and consumer
Smart Sensor Networks can
play a role in the food
…but not with the current
state of operation.
Sykoinia’s SenSure system
aims to address this issue.
June 20-21 2005 23