When planning our editorial calendar, we try to refer to the timelines of major events in our industry so that our reporting is timely.
So, after planning the May 2018 edition and seeing that the FSMA’s Sanitary Food Transport (STF) rule will take effect for small and small businesses in the previous month, it seemed to me that the STF would probably be something the industry would like to know more on that.
What I didn’t plan for a year ago is how much experts in the field would like to talk about blockchain technology. I seem to have received blockchain emails at least once a week for the past few months. While not as ubiquitous as the phrase Internet of Things, it’s definitely a new buzzword.
I still don’t have a horrible way of describing blockchain technology, as I did for IoT – I described it as your toaster that has a Facebook page and publishes status updates in your fridge. The best I can do now is to cite other definitions, which describe it as a digital, distributed book.
When I started interviewing people for STF articles and blockchain kept popping up, I was only familiar with it in terms of Bitcoin, which uses technology to run cryptocurrency payment systems. To get better at all of this, I went to a person I know who owns Bitcoin – our office’s IT support administrator. We had about an hour of talking about the trend, and when I talked about blockchain in terms of food safety, he got a spark in his eye and said, “Yeah, I definitely see how useful that would be.”
It’s the same enthusiasm I met when interviewing a number of experts about blockchain technology being applied to ensure food security throughout the supply chain. Experts envision this as unlocking the capabilities of a true tool for communicating and checking food safety used throughout the supply chain from growers to retailers, making all information visible to all parties.
Blockchain is just one of the transformative technologies we will be looking at in the next few years. Some of the others are artificial intelligence and mixed (virtual and augmented) reality, which is especially useful in the context of plant operation.
If you’re thinking, “Yes, these concepts aren’t that new,” I hear you, but what could change the game is the sophistication of the technology and the way it will be applied and used in a modern manufacturing facility.
Also, another important factor to consider is that this-5G is coming soon, and that could open up a lot of opportunities to connect people, tools and equipment.