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Polish Retail Chain Keeps Food Cool With RFID

Eurocash is deploying the active UHF-based data-logger system from Blulog at 200 warehouses and other sites, to ensure the quality of products and prevent waste.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 30, 2017

European food retailer Eurocash Group is deploying an active RFID-based solution to manage the temperatures of its coolers at its Polish stores and warehouses. Once fully installed, the system—provided by Blulog—will include wireless sensors deployed at 200 warehouses and other distribution points throughout Poland. The technology will monitor the temperatures of all the company's products—dry, fresh and frozen—as they move through the supply chain to stores and, ultimately, to consumers. The system is intended to ensure a high level of product quality, Eurocash reports, while minimizing losses resulting from perceived temperature changes.

Blulog, a French-Polish temperature-monitoring technology company based in Poznań, makes data loggers that employ wireless technology, including active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF), to transmit sensor data to a server. Eurocash was one of Blulog's first customers when the firm was founded in 2014, says Jérémy Laurens, Blulog's CEO.

Blulog's UHF NFC data logger
The deployment has taken place in various phases. Initially, Eurocash tested several of Blulog's data loggers at a single warehouse, after which it began rolling out the technology for other sites as well. The initial data loggers transmitted to hubs connected to a computer via a USB cable, the company notes. In 2015, Blulog transitioned to active UHF-enabled loggers transmitting to a wireless gateway powered over Ethernet.

Last year, the company began offering Wi-Fi-based gateways that could send data directly to the Blulog software residing in the cloud. As Laurens explains, "The idea was to simplify the installation" at the locations that, by this time, also included several delicatessens that sell Eurocash products.

In late 2016, Eurocash signed a contract to roll out the technology at 200 sites. Each warehouse typically comes with two large, cold storage rooms—one for refrigeration and one for frozen goods—as well as another large area for storing dry goods.

The retailer hopes to better manage the conditions to which its products are exposed. This would help the company to ensure that problems are addressed immediately, and that it knows definitively whether a particular product needs to be discarded.

"The most important challenge we can overcome is to eliminate the human factor," says Karol Maćkowiak, Eurocash's head of quality department. The use of human workers to collect and verify temperatures not only is time-consuming and labor-intensive, he notes, but also provides the potential for error. In addition, it simply can't be done as often as an automated system can provide data. "The temperature of transport or storage of food is one of the parameters that I would like to provide at the highest possible level—100 percent," Maćkowiak states. He seeks certainty, he says, as well as proof that measurements were taken, and what the results were, especially with regard to when temperatures exceeded acceptable perimeters and for how long.

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