Vodafone has developed a GSM chip to combat the growing number of branded soft drinks fridges going missing in developing countries - claiming some manufacturers are losing 50,000 a year in India alone.
“In developing countries, a big challenge for bottled drinks manufacturers is: ‘Where is my fridge?’” said Vodafone head of consumer goods industry Mike Ritchie-Cox.
“On average they lose 10% of their deployed fridges in any one year, and some have 500,000 in India, so losing 10% of them is quite significant.”
As well as acting as a locator, the GSM chip could tell manufacturers if the fridges were switched on, he added.
“The whole point of having a branded fridge is to generate more sales because the drink is cold rather than ambient,” he said. “If the shop owner doesn’t turn it on then it’s not generating those extra sales for you.”
Developed countries were also exploring the more advanced metrics the chip offers.
“Yes, they want to know where their fridges are and that they are switched on, but they also want to know stock levels or how many times the door is being opened,” said Cox.
“We use a low-cost GSM chip connected via the cloud, which makes it simple because there is no fixed line, or requirement to connect to in-store WiFi. You can get it to tell you anything you want, for instance you can measure temperature to ensure drinks are served at the optimum temperature.
“We have even reused some Jaguar reversing alarms to sense how many people walk past as opposed to opening the door.”
Vodafone refused to confirm which manufacturers were using the chips, but said “industry-leading names from the soft drink and confectionery sectors have begun preliminary trials across Africa and India”.