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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

Three companies are currently piloting the solution. Two fresh food retailers are using Bluetooth to capture data via tablets when goods are received at the store. The third piloting company is utilizing cellular technology not only to capture data via the device's built-in cellular connection when goods are received, but also to receive an alert in real time if conditions fall outside of the acceptable range.

For instance, if tags can detect when temperature levels are too high, they can then transmit their unique ID number, along with that temperature excursion, to a cellular network. The software will capture that data in a cloud-based server, along with the GPS location of the tag and a time and date stamp. It can then forward alerts to authorized parties. In that way, the company could potentially address the problem before the goods are damaged.

Retailers can benefit from the solution by being assured the goods they buy are fresh, Horn says, and that they will have an acceptable shelf-life. This information can prevent the purchase of a truckload of goods that might not be saleable by the time they are on store shelves. "The rejection of just a handful of bad shipments can more than pay for the solution," he states. "People get what they paid for."

Other supply chain members, such as logistics providers, can be assured that they aren't accused of causing damage to produce or product when they weren't, in fact, responsible. "It protects all the players in the ecosystem," Horn explains. "The only ones who are held accountable are the ones who were playing games," such as turning off the refrigeration unit in the van to save power. "All the good players are protected and we can weed out the bad players." The result is a set of data that all participants can trust, Schouten says, thereby providing "a single source of truth that doesn't lie about what happened."

CoreKinect has been working with potential customers in North America, while Kudelski Group is speaking with potential customers in Europe. Companies can purchase the trackers for less than $10 apiece, then use the software-as-a-service. "If we could stop one truck per store each year," Horn says, "the system would pay for itself."

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