Vodafone Italia has launched a new smart agriculture project to track bread supply chains as part of its Milan 5G initiative. The operator teamed up with longtime partner IBM and the Davide Longoni Bakery to set up a system that uses data and images to monitor all stages of bread production, from planting of grain to harvesting to transformation into a finished product by the baker and sale to the consumer.
The partners installed a 5G sensor system in a rye field in Parco della Vettabbia in Chiaravalle on the outskirts of Milan and then used several IBM hybrid cloud and AI technologies to track the bread-making process, including evaluating the pH levels of the dough and remotely monitoring the leavening process. Quality compliance along the entire supply chain is also ensured via IBM blockchain technology, according to Vodafone.
The operator switched on its commercial Giga Network 5G service in Milan in June 2019 but has been trialing 5G technology in the city since 2017. It has completed some 41 proposed 5G projects in collaboration with 38 industrial and institutional partners over the past three years.
While the Internet of Things’ potential to facilitate both light and heavy industry has been widely touted, its applicability in the realm of agriculture has been less well publicized. Nonetheless, it is beyond question that cutting-edge mobile technology can bring a great deal to the oldest field of technology. Vodafone Italia’s IoT system, developed in partnership with IBM, deploys the power of 5G to monitor and control all aspects of bread production, from planting the seeds to selling the finished product.
We find this product to be quite impressive in scope. The bakery partner, Davide Longoni, appears to be a vertically integrated company, owning all parts of the production chain, and this gives Vodafone the opportunity to demonstrate its system’s capacity to handle all these diverse operations, even such arcane applications as measuring the pH levels of dough. Of course, little or none of this would not have been possible without IBM’s participation, which illustrates the importance for MNOs of choosing the right technology partners with which to engage in innovative strategies to enhance their brands and generate revenue.
Aside from the revenue it will generate for all three partners, the bread IoT project will function as a showcase for Vodafone’s IoT capabilities and its 5G network, which will be shown to advantage via rich features such as real-time monitoring with images, AI and blockchain security. It also stands to enhance Vodafone’s brand because of the civic aspect, as the project is an aspect of the operator’s initiative to bring 5G connectivity to the city of Milan and its environs. While man may not live by bread alone, using technology to support and improve the creation of a product that has sustained humanity for millennia is an excellent strategy for the new century.