While 2020 will undoubtedly join the pantheon of eminently forgettable years in modern recorded history, it will be remembered as the time when we further strengthened the food sector by making use of opportunities presented by technology and other disciplines. Indeed, it would be accurate to say that the pandemic sent food retailers into a tizzy with consumers relying on e-commerce platforms more than ever.
Now, amidst the melee that ensued on the front end, very few noticed the steady rise of IoT acceleration at the back end or the machinery. With that, the need for digitalisation of refrigeration technical assets started gaining pace with the objective of improved energy efficiency.
Since October 2020, companies such as Eliwell Schneider Electric, Danfoss, Carel, Carrier, Emerson, Bitzer and Daikin vigorously started showcasing their digital solutions through such shows as e-Chillventa. The digital ‘show of strength’ highlighted the importance attached to digital transformation and its vast positive implications on operational efficiency. Based on these developments, CPI Industry, which is organising the Food Chain conference – and in doing do so, stands on the threshold of conducting the 10th edition of the event – has aptly themed it as, “Digital transformation of cold chain & food machinery technical assets”.
Apart from the topic of food safety, the conference will be a platform for brainstorming on IoT acceleration, which is one of the main pillars of Industry 4.0 in back-end technical assets. Digital transformation is the current business buzz-term in the GCC region, and I do believe there is considerable untapped market potential for this in cold chain verticals.
What is digitalisation? How is it different from digitisation? Is it technological or cultural?
Who are responsible for making it happen? How does it help the cold chain verticals? Whom does it benefit? Why do we need it? To what extent does it play a role in energy and eco efficiency and sustainability? What are the human and technology-related processes? What are the skills required and their availability in the region? Is digital transformation a bane or a boon? Do we indeed need to incorporate digitalisation to progress?
I look forward to answering these and more in the April issue.
The writer is an independent cold chain consultant after having served in the refrigeration sector in the GCC region as part of major MNCs. In May 2021, he will serve as Chairperson of the 10th edition of the Middle East Cold Chain Food Safety Conference, popularly known as Food Chain. He may be contacted at email@example.com