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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

Each tracker comes with Kudelski Group's Pico Secure Element (SE), providing hardware-based protection of the device and its data. In that way, the system ensures that no unauthorized parties can access the data or attempt to change it. The result is that everyone across the cold chain can trust the information they access, says Christopher Schouten, Kudelski Group's head of marketing. "In that way," he states, "parties can access tracking data with one single authenticated, unmodified source of reality."

The tag is also designed to detect tampering; if anyone attempts to tear it off, it will no longer operate properly. Additionally, Horn says, it can be attached to cases of produce, so there could be dozens or hundreds of tags in each truckload of goods. That means removing one tag will not prevent sensor readings within the vehicle.

Kudelski Group's Christopher Schouten
Typically, the tags are attached to cartons of products, at which time users can access a website or an app using a PC or mobile device, link data about the product to the unique ID number of the tracker, and then set up sensor parameters. For instance, if the temperature should never exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit for a specific box or pallet, that can be indicated in the software. Each tag's parameters can be individually set. A built-in GPS sensor enables the tracker to detect where it is located in the event of a temperature excursion, and it can then securely store that data until the tracker is interrogated. "This tag is smart enough to say 'Something has been out of compliance, and it happened at this time and place,'" Horn explains.

When the goods are received at a retail site or a distribution center, an individual at a receiving dock can read the tags via a Bluetooth, BLE, cellular or Wi-Fi connection, then view a list of the items onboard the truck, as well as a red or green notice for each tagged item, indicating whether it met temperature requirements throughout transit. The company can then accept or reject some or all of a shipment, based on that data. While the secure element ensures that sensor readings cannot be changed, authorized parties can revise the perimeters for sensor measurements.

The tracker's memory can store a month's worth of sensor data or more in the supply chain, Horn says. The frequency at which sensor reading are taken can also be determined by a user. The PC-based version of the software enables managers to view the data not only for a specific shipment, but also to perform analytics. For instance, the data allows them to compare information across a particular vendor, product or logistics provider.

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