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Could Mobile Tech Be the Key to Sustaining Higher Food Quality Standards? These Agricultural Leaders Say “Yes”

When a food contamination scare occurs, the public should not have to wait a month or more for producers to investigate and/or confirm quality levels, as was the case recently with Europe’s egg inventory. Nor should there be any opportunity for unverified finger pointing regarding the source of contaminated foods. Yet, the lack of an easily reviewable paper trail – or the lack of a paper-trail, period – breeds multiple accountability issues in today’s multi-layered food supply chains. Inconsistent reporting processes also drive the frequently slow response rates to outbreaks, causing products to linger on the market for a dangerously long period of time before full recalls can be enacted. This has brought the entire global food industry under intense scrutiny for its quality management practices, leading many quality-committed organizations to make proactive investments in technology-based inspection and reporting systems in anticipation of more stringent standards.

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In fact, some of the world’s top organic farmers, cattle ranchers and food producers are turning to mobile computers to manage their geographically widespread operations and improve quality control processes. They understand that, although agriculture may always be a manually labor-intensive business, there are great benefits posed from the widespread integration of technology. One of them being the prevention of food-caused illnesses through more actionable, mobility-derived intelligence.

Take Sukarne de Mexico. Not only is this the oldest working ranch in Mexico (founded in the 1700s), but they are the one company responsible for producing two-thirds of the meat-based protein for Mexico today. They have also grown to become the 5th largest provider of beef, chicken and pork in North America. Given the implications of a contamination in the competitive modern-day economy, Sukarne knows they can’t afford to misstep when it comes to their quality control monitoring. That is why they invested in a rugged tablet-based mobility solution a few years back to improve the oversight and reporting of their ranching operations. Many of their veterinarians and technicians are now equipped with an Xplore rugged tablet, which allows them to measure and document on the spot the health of the animals located on their hundreds of ranches in Mexico. The tablets also allow Sukarne to monitor cattle feed stations for mix, weight and temperature remotely and flag issues immediately. 

“We’re always looking to raise our standards. This [rugged tablet] technology allows us to better partner with our farmers to resolve their needs, bring efficiency to our crew members, and help us raise quality throughout our supply chain, ultimately putting the best possible eggs in our consumers’ hands.”

~ Russell Diez-Canseco, president, Vital Farms

As the largest producer of pasture-raised eggs in the U.S., Austin, TX-based Vital Farms is also a  strong believer in preventative measures. This organic farming cooperative invested in an Android-powered rugged tablet solution earlier this year to manage the more than 130 independent farms under its banner, enforce produce quality standards and maintain its USDA organic certifications. They wanted a centralized (i.e. electronic) business management system from which they could manage and track every inspection, issue and resolution related to their geographically disparate farmers – and that’s what they got with this mobility solution.

By equipping their inspectors with rugged tablets that are always communicating with their back-end systems, and requiring all reporting to occur in real-time via the mobile devices, Vital Farms has been able to create an easily-trackable “paper” trail. They will never have to worry about handling (or losing) a single piece of actual paper ever again. Nor will they have to worry about quality control issues due to inspection scheduling delays or incomplete checklists. The rugged tablets minimize that risk, while giving Vital Farms complete confidence that – should a question related to the quality of their eggs ever arise – they have the means to immediately verify inspection history and very quickly ease any government or public health fears.

Using XSLATE D10 rugged tablet to better manage natural resources

Find out how Vital Farms is using mobile technology to confirm that its agricultural producers are maintaining the 104 different compliancy points required of organic-labeled operations by reading their full story here.

Read the Case Study

Read Part 2 of the Blog