Australian supermarket giant Coles has digitized its supply chain with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, deploying a solution from Loscam and Thinxtra to monitor the location and measure the impact of 4,500 smart food bins moving poultry between farms and its distribution center.
Coles announced a major digital transformation strategy last year, which includes increasing the resilience of its critical supply chains, such as the protein cold chain, responsible for sourcing and storing poultry. The objective was to reduce the number of food bins it loses, to understand if and where these assets are damaged, to improve the pooling of equipment for transit and, ultimately, to increase stock rotation.
Following a call for tenders, Coles partnered with Loscam, which was the only company to offer an innovative IoT solution. Coles then rolled out 4,500 smart, collapsible food bins made by Loscam and outfitted them with internet-connected devices. The devices communicate real-time location data using Thinxtra’s nationwide public 0G network. This information is available to the supermarket through LoscamOnline, a specialized tracking platform.
The combined IoT solution enabled a connected and transparent supply chain with timely information on geolocation, geofencing, shock impact events, temperature and bin status and allows Coles to optimize routes transport and the pooling of equipment based on usage patterns.
“The smart food bins ensure that we can track poultry from the time it is loaded by our suppliers at the farms, to the time it reaches our distribution centre, reinforcing our food safety standards, while saving money. time and minimizing waste,” said Larry Kavanagh, National Meat Processing General Manager, 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 in maintaining our customer-focused and quality-driven service, which is reflected in our supermarkets. »
Loscam and Thinxtra’s IoT solution provides data for each individual smart food bin, rather than just the trucks carrying them. Coles can therefore view the location of each individual asset in transit and receive alerts when food bins are not where they should be and whenever there is an impact, including when the bins are mishandled. This reduces unnecessary damage and creates accountability for inventory quality backed by reliable real-time data.
Additionally, the ability to monitor asset performance, including temperature levels, ensures food quality. This plays a major role in waste disposal and helps Coles maintain safe conditions during transport with the lowest possible energy consumption to support its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.
The innovative combination of collapsible food bins and IoT technology reduces the cost of the required asset pool by 25%, tripling the number of empty bins returned, reducing costs and waste.
“Legacy tracking device solutions were generally well below market expectations and needs. With a complex large-scale organization like Coles, the IoT has introduced asset management capabilities beyond traditional RFID or GPS tracking, with sensors that can provide insights to optimize logistics operations,” said Daniel Bunnett , Executive Vice President A/NZ at Loscam. “Powered by the nationwide Thinxtra 0G network, our IoT devices provide Coles with a sustainable and more efficient way to transport perishable poultry products and manage its industrial returnable packaging, while reducing resource waste.
Coles chose Loscam because the company’s solution proved to be more innovative and cost effective than competitor tracking. IoT technology is quick and easy to install and does not require an initial investment in infrastructure setup. The devices are also battery powered, with a lifespan of up to five years, allowing them to operate independently of any power source.
“Coles, as an iconic Australian brand, has been able to deploy Internet of Things technology to achieve economic viability and operational scalability by streamlining its critical supply chain operations,” said Nicholas. Lambrou, CEO of Thinxtra. “The IoT-powered smart food bins provide full traceability for quality assurance and efficiency within the protein cold chain, while reducing Coles’ business costs by avoiding unnecessary damage and putting better shared transport facilities.”
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