The Galician company Kiwanda Food uses radiofrequency technology to face up to one of the greatest problems in the fruit and vegetable growing sector.
Francisco Robredo, CEO of Kiwanda Food, tells us how this type of technology reduces costs and wastage, at the same time as helping to improve the quality of the products.
Could you explain the birth and evolution of Kiwanda Food?
Kiwanda Food (www.kiwandafood.com) arose from the detection of a series of problems common to food companies, such as wastage, traceability and the difficulty of carrying out inventories. These were resolved in other sectors by applying radiofrequency technology. Therefore, we designed a solution which, using a very modest investment, could resolve these problems.
The company was established in Galicia and we have an office in Murcia, which we use to take care of our clients in the southern region in person.
What are the specific solutions for the fruit and vegetable growing sector?
We have developed a solution by implanting RFID technology. In this way, we provide value in 4 areas:
- Inventory control: by using intelligent labels on the boxes or pallets, a reliable inventory is available in real time.
- Ready-to-eat: by individually controlling the batches, a system is established in the ripening rooms that allows the fruit and vegetable to be sent at their optimum ripeness.
- Traceability: our system allows the processes to be digitalised and automated in order to ensure that the searches are flexible, simple and reliable.
- Quality and productivity: the introduction of RFID technology allows the company to position itself in terms of the highest standards of quality and productivity, permitting savings in costs and becoming more competitive. We achieve this thanks to the control over logistics, production, reduction in wastage and guaranteeing the quality of the product.
Are your services applicable in the fields, the warehouses, at the retailers? Everywhere?
Indeed, our technology may be applied from the fields to the end customer. By using intelligent labels on the pallets, instead of barcodes, the data may be captured in the fields, associating the harvesting date, field and plot of land, team of labourers and environmental conditions to each pallet. If this information is recorded using blockchain technology, the reliability is guaranteed, and it may also be used to establish the contract conditions with the farmer.
When the raw material enters the plant, the containers are automatically recognised and the weighing and calibration data is registered. The traceability then continues through the ripening rooms. The resources required to carry out this traceability is minimal, as it is all automatic.
When making up the shipments, an operator receives an order in preparation on the forklift truck, which already incorporates a RFID reader, and that automatically indicates the locations of the materials that have to be collected and it validates them. The order is prepared in record time and what is indicated on the delivery note is guaranteed to be the same as has been loaded on the lorry.
Retailers can also take advantage of this preliminary work. On the one hand, regarding the traceability acquired by the product and on the other, to automate the reception of goods and product inventory. This system knows the best before dates for all the goods, therefore automatic warnings and recommendations are issued that help to reduce wastage. Large chains, such as Mercadona, are carrying out pilot schemes in this line.
What is your after sales service?
Once the solution has been implanted, we organise periodic meetings with the managers of the relevant company, to analyse the quality and productivity metrics, with a view to finding out how they can be improved and become more competitive.
To what extent do you help to reduce food waste?
Just in Spain, 1.7 million (kilos/tonnes?) of food are wasted along the supply chain. Most of the problem may be found in the fruit and vegetable growing sector, as almost half of the fruit and vegetables end up in the rubbish.
The fact of having a reliable inventory in real time allows the cycle, temperature and humidity per individual batch to be known. The simple fact of knowing what is in the warehouse means that food waste is prevented. And if this is combined with an active warning system that gives warnings when the product is getting close to not being suitable for consumption, the wastage is considerably reduced.
It has been proven that in fruit and vegetable growing companies that apply RFID, the wastage reduction can reach 33%.