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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

Within each warehouse, Eurocash uses Blulog's UHF and Near Field Communication (NFC) data loggers, with three or four installed in each room. Some warehouses require 26 loggers or more to cover the entire storage area. The loggers are the size of a credit card, and can capture data and forward it to a gateway at a distance of up to 700 meters (2,300 feet). The loggers operate with a coin cell battery that has a typical life span of about three years.

The gateway, in turn, is connected via either Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable. Typically, only one or two gateways are necessary. Each gateway transmits to Blulog's cloud-based software. At some locations, Ethernet cables are used, while others utilize the existing Wi-Fi network.

Jérémy Laurens
While loggers transmit data to the gateway via active UHF, they are also equipped with an NFC radio that, when necessary, can transmit data at 13.56 MHz. For instance, in the event of an Internet failure or power outage preventing data transmission by the gateway, individuals equipped with NFC-enabled mobile phones can simply go to each logger and capture the sensor data directly from it, without requiring an app.

Eurocash's employees are installing the system at each site themselves, using a logger holder and screws or double-sided adhesives to mount them to walls. Since the system was installed, Maćkowiak says, store profits are up due to labor savings, as well as better data enabling food not to be discarded either because it becomes too warm or cold, or because the temperature history cannot be verified.

In the long term, Maćkowiak says, he wants to make the technology universal across the company so that he can see temperature and humidity changes at all locations, from the initial collection area to the store. This would also allow him to view air flow and gas concentration, such as ethylene gases that can build up around fruits or vegetables.

As part of this effort, Laurens says, Eurocash and Blulog are now testing the technology on trucks. In this case, the data logger captures sensor data, which it transmits to the gateways when the trucks pull into a warehouse or store using such devices. In that way, the company not only has a record of the temperatures to which the food has been exposed, but also knows when it was delivered to or departed from a specific location.

During the coming year, Blulog also plans to release a QR code functionality that would enable companies like Eurocash to share temperature records with customers shopping for their products. The QR code would be attached to the front of a refrigerator or freezer. Customers could use their mobile phone to scan the QR code, which would take them to a server where BlueConsole software would link the QR code for that cooler to the products stored inside within, and then display historic sensor data for those goods on the customer's phone. "Eurocash wants to be among the first to showcase this technology," Laurens says.

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