Cold storage is deemed one of the main elements in food safety management to maintain food quality. The temperature, relative humidity (RH), and air quality in cold storage rooms (CSRs) should be carefully controlled to ensure food quality and safety during cold storage. In addition, the components of CSR are exposed to risks caused by the electric current, high temperature surrounding the compressor of the condensing unit, snow and ice accumulation on the evaporator coils, and refrigerant gas leakage. These parameters affect the stored product quality, and the real-time sending of warnings is very important for early preemptive actionability against the risks that may cause damage to the components of the cold storage rooms. The IoT-based control (IoT-BC) with multipurpose sensors in food technologies presents solutions for postharvest quality management of fruits during cold storage. Therefore, this study aimed to design and evaluate a IoT-BC system to remotely control, risk alert, and monitor the microclimate parameters, i.e., RH, temperature, CO2, C2H4, and light and some operating parameters, i.e., the temperature of the refrigeration compressor, the electrical current, and the energy consumption for a modified CSR (MCSR). In addition, the impacts of the designed IoT-BC system on date fruit quality during cold storage were investigated compared with a traditional CSR (TCSR) as a case study. The results showed that the designed IoT-BC system precisely controlled the MCSR, provided reliable data about the interior microclimate atmosphere, applied electrical current and energy consumption of the MCSR, and sent the necessary alerts in case of an emergency based on real-time data analytics. There was no significant effect of the storage time on the most important quality attributes for stored date fruit in the MCSR compared with the TCSR. As a result, the MCSR maintained high-quality attributes of date fruits during cold storage. Based on the positive impact of the designed IoT-BC system on the MCSR and stored fruit quality, this modification seems quite suitable for remotely managing cold storage facilities.
Keywords: Arduino; ESP8266; ThingSpeak; control; date fruit quality; electrical power; energy; food preservation; internet of things (IoT); micro-climate; microcontroller; monitoring; sensors.