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Minnesota Caterer and Grocer Ensures Food Safety With RFID

ParTech's SureCheck system enables Lunds & Byerlys to automatically track temperatures within its coolers, in order to meet food-safety standards and confirm product freshness.
By Claire Swedberg

Last year, Lunds & Byerlys began working with ParTech on an automated solution to make the process of tracking the temperatures of its fresh food more automated. ParTech's software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution consists of SureCheck Advantage (SCA) units with temperature sensors and built-in readers developed in-house. The system also comes with two types of high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz RFID tags—one battery-powered device with built-in temperature sensors from Phase IV Engineering, and another passive tag with simply a unique ID number.

The temperature sensor tags can automatically capture temperatures at programmable intervals down to every five minutes, once installed within coolers and freezers. That data can then be retrieved using a handheld SCA device that reads each tag's ID and the related sensor data. The SCA serves as an all-in-one handheld device, providing IR-based temperature sensors, tethered temperature probes, a camera and an RFID reader, with a built-in Android operating system.

To read temperature tags, the SCA is placed within a few centimeters of them, in order to capture the reading and the tag IDs. Non-temperature RFID responders (tags) can also be used as proof of location. In some cases, foods must be probed for internal temperature. To conduct such safety checks, a user can log into the SCA and provide his or her own identity, as well as any other information, such as where the measurements are being taken. That user ID is then saved in the cloud, along with a timestamp.

The employee then holds the SCA unit within read range of a passive HF SureCheck tag that is installed in the cooler. The tag ID is forwarded to the software via a Wi-Fi connection, and the software then prompts the SCA to display a checklist for the user to capture specific probe-based temperatures. When he or she does so, those measurements are also sent to the cloud-based software automatically.

"One of the major benefits of using PAR's SureCheck Advantage system has been the ability to capture much of the required information and have it completely accessible within seconds," Gindorff says. "And it is easy to understand and consistent."

"The system uses a simple checklist approach for the user to carry out an inspection," Sammon states. "The checklists are defined based on our clients' HACCP program. Schedules can be set and a user simply works through the checklist."

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