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AUS researcher employs IoT to reduce food waste
An American University of Sharjah (AUS) researcher is leading an international collaborative study on the role of Internet of Things (IoT) in optimizing food supply chain management to reduce waste.
Lead researcher Dr. Zied Bahroun, Associate Professor in Industrial Engineering at AUS, and his collaborators focused on food supply chains of perishable products that have a limited shelf life and how they can be improved through the use of IoT. IoT describes physical objects with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.
“IoT has many applications in supply chain management, including supply chain virtualization, maintenance, vehicle routing and quality-controlled logistics for perishable goods. Quality and safety issues in perishable products often lead to food waste along the supply chain from production, storage, processing and distribution to retail and consumption. By collecting data using IoT, we can ensure high levels of safety and traceability,” said Dr. Bahroun.
The team began by designing an inventory model for perishable products monitored using IoT-enabled sensors.
“We developed a novel demand function that accounts for the quality of a product and its lifespan in three supply chain phases: production, distribution and retail. We also investigated how pricing plays a role in food waste reduction with the aid of IoT technology and studied which phase along the supply chain should invest in this technology. IoT provides real-time data about the quality of a product (through sensors), and based on that we can make decisions about decreasing prices of perishable goods to sell them faster before the quality decreases and the product is reduced to waste. We found through our study that retailers have better use of IoT technology than distributors, as it provides them with flexibility to adjust prices,” said Dr. Bahroun.
Collaborating with Dr. Bahroun are Dr. Mohamed Ben-Daya from the AUS Department of Industrial Engineering and Dr. Elkafi Hassini from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Canada. Engineering systems management (ESM) PhD student Bayan Banimfreg and ESM master’s student Hafsa Saeed assisted the team in writing research papers and conducting numerical experiments.
Looking ahead, the research team is also considering expanding the research to investigate the impact of demand uncertainty on the use of IoT and to study optimal discount timings and implementation of dynamic pricing in light of real-time data from the sensors.
The research received an AUS Enhanced Faculty Research Grant. The team published four research articles in reputed international journals and two book chapters.
In the past three years, Dr. Bahroun published 18 research articles, two book chapters and two conference research papers in the areas of supply chain management, production and inventory control, applied operations research, modeling and simulation, scheduling in healthcare, and materials. He has also a long experience in the area of business management software and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
The Department of Industrial Engineering at the AUS College of Engineering is committed to excellence in teaching and research through its application-oriented and industry-driven academic programs. In addition to a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (BSIE) degree, the department offers multidisciplinary graduate programs leading to master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering systems management to meet the interests of students from all engineering majors. The curriculum is designed to graduate professional engineers who are capable of working in environments where cost effectiveness, high productivity, continuous quality and reliability improvements, waste reduction, and efficient resource utilization are critical success factors for organizations. Across all engineering majors, graduates of AUS are the top choice for employers in the UAE, according to QS World University Subject Rankings (2022). Alumni of the AUS College of Engineering are highly regarded by employers across the region and the world.
For more information about the AUS Department of Industrial Engineering, visit www.aus.edu/cen/department-of-industrial-engineering.