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IoT Tag Solution Tracks Conditions for Cold Chain

FreshTrack, provided by CoreKinect and Kudelski Group, is being piloted by three retailer companies to track conditions around goods in the supply chain; sensor data is captured as goods are received, enabling store managers to view the conditions before they accept a shipment.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 25, 2019

CoreKinect and Kudelski Group have released a new cold-chain and asset-tracking and -management solution intended to make automated, sensor-based tracking of goods in the supply chain affordable and secure. The solution, known as FreshTrack, is focused on providing grocery stores and logistics providers with data regarding the conditions of fresh products as they are transported to stores. It can also be used for monitoring pharmaceuticals, electronic goods and other condition-sensitive products as they are delivered to a retailer, the companies report.

FreshTrack consists of CoreKinect's disposable tracker with built-in Internet of Things (IoT) technology, as well as sensors and related cloud-based software, using Kudelski Group's digital security technology to ensure data is not intercepted or changed throughout the distribution chain. The companies say the solution will enable users to reduce food waste by knowing the conditions to which goods have been exposed in transit to a store, and thus how long the shelf life is, even before the store accepts the goods from the shipper.

CoreKinect's John Horn
Food waste is a significant problem worldwide, and tracking the cause of the problem can be challenging. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide ends up lost or wasted. Much of that waste occurs in the consumer's home, but retailers also lose fresh produce due to goods spoiling before they can be sold.

The FreshTrack flexible tracker is designed to be affixed to a carton of goods, and to be low enough in cost that it can be discarded once the products are delivered to a customer, such as a grocer. The tracker was designed with an efficient manufacturing process in mind, says John Horn, CoreKinect's president and chief strategy officer. The company engineers and manufactures the devices in Tempe, Ariz.

The product design and manufacturing processes, Horn reports, have enabled the tag to be priced well below $10 each. The trackers are designed with functional unit blocks that, together, create interchangeable units for a variety of solutions, by sensing unique conditions such as temperature, humidity and motion. A lithium-manganese thin-film battery is layered into the adhesive tracker, which can last for six to nine months for most use cases.

When it comes to the sensors, they can be selected to meet a specific user's needs and can include temperature, motion and moisture detection. There is also a transmission unit that can employ cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to transmit conditions to a user's reader or mobile device, or a dedicated beacon or cellular or Wi-Fi network.

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