Using Big Data and the IoT to reduce food waste
The Director of ESCP Europe’s Master of Science in Big Data & Business Analytics looked into the inventory of perishables with a PhD candidate and contributed to food preservation by introducing the novel concept of cross-perishability.
“Faced with the challenges associated with sustainably feeding the world’s growing population, the food industry is increasingly relying on operations research techniques to achieve economic, environmental and social sustainability,” explains Information & Operations Management Professor Wei Zhou in an article on the theme of sustainable food supply chain. He published several others and even a book on inventory management and RFID-based solutions in supply chains.
In his latest published research, he looked into the perishable inventory system with ESCP Europe PhD candidate Huihui Chi, Linkoping University Professor Ou Tang, Qinghai University’s Ya Yang and East China University of Science and Technology Professor Tijun Fan. “It is very common that retailers are storing and managing perishables of multiple types together. Due to chemical or biological reactions, the preservation period of some perishables (e.g., vegetables, fruits, fish, meats) either prolongs or shortens with the co-storage of other product types. Although this phenomenon is significant, it has not been mentioned in the perishable inventory literature,” they explain.
That is why they studied the effect perishables have on other perishables – which they labelled cross-perishability -, formulating an inventory model with a novel control variable of preservation effort that in turn affects the preservation period when multiple product-types coexist.
With an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor system as the background, this model takes the advantage of real-time data, based on which the cross perishable effect, inventory characteristics and control policy can be analysed. “Our results indicate that an integrated decision-making mechanism with consideration of the cross perishable effect should lead to an improved global mixed perishable inventory policy, in terms of reducing the deterioration cost, decreasing the inventory level, and improving the perishables’ quality,” they add.
They also offer managerial and policy implications for the perishable inventory system where the cross perishable effect should be seriously considered in order to reduce food waste – but also costs, thereby increasing revenue…
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