An IoT initiative with a humanitarian purpose

Organization uses connected technology to enhance the process of fortifying flour with key nutrients
Written by Bob Violino, Contributor

Sanku (Project Healthy Children)

, an organization that aims to end malnutrition around the world, is equipping small flour mills across Africa with


services to provide nutritious fortified flour to millions of people.

More than two billion people worldwide lack access to vital vitamins and minerals, which can lead to birth defects, child development issues, and blindness. Sanku is battling the problem with a technology called a "dosifier," which enables small African flour mills in rural areas to fortify flour with key nutrients during the milling process, in a way that's sustainable and cost-effective.

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The organization in October 2017 began to equipping dosifiers with Vodafone's IoT SIM and USB Connect technology to improve the program's efficiency. With the IoT technology, Sanku will be able to bring real-time, data-driven insights to 3,000 small-scale flour mills over the next four years.

Sanku is upgrading its current dosifier machines with cellular devices provided by Vodafone, said Felix Brooks-Church, Sanku's co-founder, president, and CEO.

All daily production data is sent in real time, via the cellular link, to a dashboard that allows the organization to monitor the mills' performance. Data collected includes flour produced, nutrients dispensed, people reached, and any technical issues with the machine performance, Brooks-Church said.

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"In the past we had to visit flour mills physically to retrieve data from the dosifier machines manually," Brooks-Church said. "This was at a large cost to the organization, and required extra staffing, vehicles, and overall logistical management."

Now, Sanku can streamline the process and reduce the number of vehicles needed, which equates to a smaller carbon footprint, Brooks-Church said. "Overall, we are able to respond faster and more [efficiently] when mills need servicing or restocking of our products, like nutrients and flour bags," he said.

With the previous method, one Sanku worker could only monitor 25 mills, which would fortify flour to feed 125,000 people. IoT SIM now connects the worker to 100 mills, which will fortify flour for 500,000 people. The worker receives alerts remotely and in real-time when the mills run out of fortified flour or need maintenance.

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"The IoT is enabling us to completely automate our operations and how we run our business," Brooks-Church said. It's no longer a struggle trying to determine which mills need to be visited, which dosifiers need maintenance, and when products need to be delivered to avoid stock-outs.

Sanku plans to scale the IoT system across the estimated 3,000 mills in Tanzania, as well as across the region of east Africa, specifically Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique. The goal is to install IoT-enabled dosifiers in more than 15,000 mills by 2025, reaching 100 million people.

"The work that Sanku-Project Healthy Children is doing to bring micronutrients to communities in Africa aligns with our mission to connect machines and transform lives and businesses," said Ludovido Fassati, head of IoT for Vodafone Americas. "This is a great example of global reach with local roots."

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