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Driscoll's Monitors Its Berry Shipments in Real Time

The company is using a combination of RFID sensors, GPS and cellular communication technology to ensure its products are transported at the proper temperature, and that trailers are not opened while in transit.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 18, 2010To ensure its strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are transported at an optimal temperature, Driscoll's has adopted a system utilizing radio frequency identification to track the location, security status and temperature of its products as they are carried by trailer trucks, and to report that information in real time.

This past summer, Driscoll's carried out a pilot deployment of the system—provided by Locus Traxx, a firm that produces sensor and monitoring technology for transportation applications—on shipments of strawberries transported from its California cooling and distribution facility to a distribution center located in Florida. The technology consists of two temperature sensors with built-in battery-powered 2.4 GHz RFID tags, one door sensor with its own similar RFID tag, and an RFID reader wired to a GPS device carried in the truck's cab. By using the Locus Traxx system, Driscoll's was able to view data regarding the berries' temperature, the length of time they were in transit, when exceptions (such as high temperatures or an open door) occurred, and how quickly trucks were unloaded at the DC.


Locus Traxx's John Hennessy
Driscoll's has employed RFID in the past to track the temperatures of its shipments. Because its products are highly sensitive to temperatures that are too warm or too cold, and because the firm strives for a reputation of quality exceeding that of its competitors, Driscoll's has been working to improve its view into the conditions that berries sustain throughout their journey, according to Rick Reyes, the company's director of product planning and delivery systems. The previous RFID system included temperature sensors with active RFID tags, he says, which transmitted sensor data to interrogators when trucks pulled into the DCs. However, that data often arrived too late, long after the temperature threshold, for example, was exceeded. "We weren't getting the real-time information that would have allowed us to respond in a proactive manner," he states.

In addition, because the berries are transported by third-party logistics companies, Driscoll's has had little real-time visibility regarding the trucks' location, as well as when and where they are being delayed. If the trailers were opened at unexpected locations, possibly indicating theft, the company would have been unable see that event.

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