Tracking Technologies: A Simple Guide to Setting Up a Monitoring System for Your Business

Max B, CEO
Max B, CEO
Dec 13, 2023
10 minutes
In foodtech and agritech, there are many scenarios where process monitoring, data analysis and automated responses to changes in indicators play an important role:
Inventory management: Monitoring storage conditions of products in the warehouse. For example, the system can automatically respond to changes in temperature or humidity to prevent food from spoiling or alert you when redistribution is needed.
Production optimization: Monitoring production processes using sensors allows you to optimize the use of resources (water, energy), automate the adjustment of temperature, humidity and other parameters to achieve optimal production conditions.
Quality control of crops: In agricultural technology, monitoring soil indicators, humidity, yield levels and plant diseases allows you to optimize the processes of sowing and tillage, as well as prevent possible problems with the crop.
Irrigation and Yield Management: Soil moisture and weather monitoring systems help optimize irrigation systems, maintaining optimal conditions for plant growth and increased yields.
Food Safety: Monitoring the temperature and transport conditions of food at all stages of delivery - from field to store - to prevent spoilage and ensure safety for consumers.
Employee productivity: We can track employee working hours. Automatically analyze arrival/departure times, for example, through a mobile application and an identification system. And then build analytics on working hours on the dashboard and send notifications if, for example, someone did not show up for their shift. When building delivery services, we want to automatically know what time the courier arrived, how long he stayed on site and when he left. Thus, we can build a great user experience, giving the client accurate information about where the courier is, and also measure the efficiency of couriers.
These scenarios require monitoring, data processing and automated response systems to ensure efficiency, product quality and safety
There can be a lot of use cases. Our main task is to find a tool where we will store, warehouse, build the necessary graphs and indicators. And when certain triggers occur, take some action.

Everything is simpler than it seems

To implement such systems, it is not necessary to build something expensive, buy enterprise systems or write your own expensive products.
Now I will show how a service that was originally created for monitoring servers can be used for business cases. We'll talk about Grafana.
Grafana is an interface for analyzing data in various forms. Moreover, the data source can be anything: a database, Excel.
Let's try to create a demo version of the dashboard, simulate data collection from various sensors and set up a response to incidents.
This is a fairly popular task for food agrotech.

Let's move on to practice

You can install Grafana on your server, configure everything inside, but for ease of understanding we will create a free cloud account on the Grafana website.
Add a new connection
As you can see, there are a huge variety of them: Google spreadsheets, Google analytics, CSV, whatever.
If you already have data and it is updated regularly in google sheets, use this connector and work with it.
In the example, we want to collect data from various sensors, so we select HTTP Metrics. Following the logic laid down in our example, we created a small application that takes readings from temperature sensors and sends them to the server.
Data sources can be combined. For example, some of the data comes from sensors, some from some internal accounting systems. All this can be aggregated into a single space and worked with.
Build a dashboard
Grafana provides a wide range of tools for processing data and their visualization: variou, graphs, indicators.
Example from the official Grafana website
For our example, a simple graph with the latest temperature readings, the current temperature and the maximum temperature for the last hour will do.
Charts can be built for any period. They will be updated in real time.
Set up alerts
Now let's set up notifications for incidents. Let's try, for example, if the temperature exceeds 35 degrees, notify the engineer that he needs to pay attention.
The number of alerts can be any.
Next, as in the designer, we choose what we can do with such incidents. We can simply store it for history, or we can notify a group or specific people using different channels. For example, Slack, Telegram, Email, or push notifications to an internal application.
Or you can use external devices and, for example, when the temperature rises, start the air conditioning system and open the door. It's not difficult, because... Many devices today already have their own API, for example coffee machines or kettles. And you can always assemble some simple devices that will perform actions, for example, open gates.

To summarize

Why do you need to set all this up at all?
Quality Control: Monitoring helps to track the quality of products at every stage of production. If any parameter (temperature, humidity, composition, etc.) goes beyond the established standards, the system notifies you about it, allowing you to respond quickly.
Compliance with safety standards: The food industry has strict regulations and standards regarding hygiene, safety and product quality. Monitoring and notifications help quickly detect and correct any deviations from these standards.
Loss Prevention: If a problem or deviation occurs during production, rapid notification allows for rapid response, minimizing product loss or preventing safety issues.
Production Efficiency: Monitoring and notifications also help optimize production processes by identifying bottlenecks and problem areas to improve production processes.
I hope I was able to tell you, using simple scenarios, how you can automate data collection, visualize it, and set up alerts for incidents using fairly simple and inexpensive tools. You can scale this idea to suit your business however you like. If you have no idea, ask me how ;)