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Reducing Costly Waste: Keeping Food Fresh and Data Even Fresher

The Challenge

Every year, a large retail chain loses nearly $2 billion to wasted or spoiled food. Problems with its legacy refrigeration system account for approximately 15 percent of that total—or $300 million. It takes five to six hours for alarms from the refrigeration system controllers to reach the operations team, and there is no early-warning mechanism.

This legacy system depends on the individual controllers to raise alarms and on the corresponding vendor-supplied service components. To compound the problem, the chain’s vendors no longer support these controllers, so changing alarm and logging parameters is nearly impossible.

Our Approach

The retailer asked Cognizant for a strategy to resolve this major source of food waste and the corresponding financial loss. We recommended a device that would interact directly with the refrigeration equipment controllers, retrieving a set of prioritized sensor information on a periodic basis—an approach the client endorsed. We then designed a platform using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to log, monitor and predict the alarms and failures at all the retailer’s U.S. stores based on the data retrieved from various controllers.

Secret Ingredient for Reducing Food Waste? IoT

With the completed IoT solution, the retailer can collect data from meters, fleets, and energy and other sources. The enterprise-level platform can monitor energy use, increase operational efficiency and optimize the supply chain. Data can be used to develop algorithms that help predict system issues and limit food spoilage.



cost savings projected after completion of the project

36 hours to less than 4

lead time for automated work-order generation


field service work orders automated, eliminating need for manual intervention