Technology Record - Issue 24: Spring 2022

150 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E inventory at a hyperlocal level for each store, reducing food waste.” Meanwhile, Stratuscent has developed a lowcost, portable ‘electronic nose’ device, which leverages chemical sensing and AI technologies to detect, digitise and catalogue different scents. The device can be used by retailers in the food and beverage industry to assess how fresh products are. “By detecting certain chemicals released in the air, an eNose can recognise individual items of food and determine freshness by cross-­ referencing it with Stratuscent’s scent library,” explains Rajagopalan. “The AI platform can digitise and map smells that may go unnoticed by the human nose.This ensures that retailers do not throw away food that is still in good condition.” In addition, many retail and CG brands are aiming to minimise waste with innovative recyclable and sustainable packaging and shipping materials. “What if containers and dispensers themselves were reusable, and not just easier to recycle or compost?” asks Rajagopalan. “Reusable dispensers could facilitate shipping refills with lower water content or packaging. Or, better still, what if packaging materials could be IoT enabled to help retailers understand consumption patterns and trigger reordering? This would create a win-win situation.” Rajagopalan shares that, Microsoft is committed to empowering retailers, CGs and other stakeholders to develop more sustainable products and navigate a path towards net zero emissions. In July 2021, it introduced the new Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability to help organisations collect and analyse data and turn the insights they glean into effective actions. Multinational bakery business Grupo Bimbo, for example, is piloting the solution to achieve its aim of attaining carbon neutrality by 2050. The group, which has more than 200 bakeries across 33 countries and a worldwide distribution network of more than 54,000 routes, is using the cloud to gain greater visibility into its value chain and pinpoint opportunities for decreasing carbon emissions directly emitted by its assets and the production of electricity it consumes. In the future, it will use the cloud to limit emissions occurring across the company’s value chain. “The Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability will help companies like Grupo Bimbo effectively record, report and reduce their emissions,” says Rajagopalan. “Microsoft recognises that we have a responsibility and opportunity to help those in the retail, CG and other industry sectors to address critical environmental challenges. We’ll continue to share technology and resources developed for our own sustainability goals with our customers to ensure we can all work together to create a better future – for both humans and the planet.” We ask selected Microsoft partners how they are using technology to help retailers make the end-to-end product life cycle and the shopping journey more sustainable Partner perspectives “At Shelf Engine, we guarantee results for customers that want to reduce food waste and decrease their environmental footprint. We use sophisticated demand forecasting and machine learning techniques to determine how much food they should order to ensure shelves are full and waste is minimal. We leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform to operate our cloud-native product, including all data ingestion and export processing, background automation and application programming interface services. We also use the C# programming language and toolchain for some of our system workloads.” Bede Jordan Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder, Shelf Engine