CERN Accelerating science

Team Gell-Mann - fruIoT

Team Gell-Mann - fruIoT

Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger

The starting point of our project is SDG 2 Zero Hunger and the goal of the project is to identify a specific problem and ideate an innovative solution to that problem.

The problem we are facing is quite simple to understand — fresh fruit and vegetables arrive at different maturation stages to decision points. Not considering these variations result in countless food losses throughout the whole supply chain.

To make it clearer, let us explain the example of bananas. Bananas go a long way from Colombia to Belgium. Due to temperature fluctuations inside the shipping containers, bananas arrive in different ripening stages. Since we cannot distinguish them, half are sent to Paris and the other half to Moscow, even knowing that some of them will definitely spoil before reaching the final consumer. What if Belgian distributors could distinguish mature bananas from not-so-mature ones so we only send to Moscow the bananas we know will make it there and send the riper ones to closer destinations as Paris?

To solve such problem, we have designed a tracking system to provide the information they need in the decision point. To provide this information we need to store the conditions every fruit box has been through, estimate the ripeness of the fruit from this data and finally make this information accessible from the decision point.

Our mission is to provide an enhanced TRACEABILITY of fruit and vegetables throughout the whole supply chain. How do we do it?

We need three main technologies to implement this tracking system: a way to identify every fruit box, a sensing device and a database to store all the data collected and estimate the ripeness.

RFID system: We will identify every fruit box with an RFID tag. Compared to traditional barcodes, a bunch of those tags can be read at once from a distance and this highly improves efficiency.

Sensors: To know the conditions the fruit boxes have been through, we have designed a sensing device that measures key characteristics such as temperature, humidity and colour. Another interesting measurement is ethylene, a gas that accelerates fruit ripening.

Database and ripeness estimation

Finally, we need a server with a huge database to store all the data we acquire through sensors. In this server, we also need an intelligent algorithm to estimate the ripeness of fresh products, the current purpose of this whole system — in the conclusions we are briefly exploring how this tracking system can be used for other interesting purposes.

For the exposition of our prototype, we solder three sensors — temperature/humidity/pressure, gas and color — to a PCB board and connect them to an Arduino which will read the data and sent it to the computer.

Project documentation