How a 5G IoT solution could represent a decisive step towards creating a transparent and more efficient agricultural supply  chain.

– a simple product –  is part of a logistically complex and fragmented supply chain. 

It starts with the production of raw ingredients – wheat, flour, sugar and  so on, potentially sourced from a range of suppliers – before moving to the bakery stage and eventually being delivered to  the end consumer. 

The solution also supports growers and bakers at each stage of the process maximise efficiency and reduce wastage, with the intention of helping mitigate the environmental impact of the supply chain. 

In Italy, Vodafone has collaborated with IBM  and Bakery Davide Longoni, based in Milan, to create a 5G IoT solution that enables the accurate tracing of the entire bread supply chain – from grower through to baker and finally consumer.

But keeping track of a loaf at each stage of this journey, or confirming its authenticity – for example, whether  it is truly compliant with organic food labelling rules –  can be a challenge.

This system enabled growers to access and analyse large amounts of data – both in the sowing and harvesting phases – and monitor the conditions of their fields in real-time. 

Developed as part of a Vodafone 5G trial in Milan, we installed a 5G-connected sensor system in  a rye field in the Vettabbia Park, Chiaravalle to test the solution.

By using artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive algorithms, we were able provide those farmers with guidance on when to intervene with targeted irrigation to prevent crop diseases, helping avoid damage to the harvest and potential waste of valuable resources. 

We also installed sensors in the bakery to help track the bread-making process, allowing bakers to evaluate the pH levels of their dough and monitor the leavening process remotely, alerting them when their dough had risen and was ready. 

At the final stage of the project, a customer in Bakery Davide Longoni was able to track, review and confirm the authenticity  of a loaf of bread at every stage of its supply chain journey.

The digitalisation of agriculture and food supply chains represents a decisive step to promote greater efficiency, resilience and sustainability for the entire sector.  "Digital solutions like IoT and AI present an opportunity to provide farmers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and end consumers with a complete, transparent view of crops, supply chain and production.”

Giorgio Migliarina,  Director, Vodafone Business Italy