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Sensitech’s RFID Cold Chain Solution

The cold chain technology company has RFID-enabled its TempTale sensors and developed a platform for end-to-end temperature-tracking of perishable foods.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Nov 11, 2005Sensitech, a company that manufactures temperature-tracking products and provides integration and data analysis for the food service and pharmaceutical industries, has released an RFID-enabled temperature-tracking product. This system is designed to give companies end-to-end visibility into their cold chains and alert cold chain partners when their product is in danger of falling outside the acceptable temperature range. Trials of the system showed that companies could use the Sensitech platform to reduce inventory shrink due to spoilage by as much as 15 percent, the company reports.

More than 3,000 produce growers and shippers, and 20 grocery chains, currently use Sensitech's non-RFID TempTale temperature monitors. However, because the devices must be physically removed from the flats or pallets of perishable products to download the temperature history, they are used to provide a history of only one leg of the food's journey at a time. This temperature data can then be utilized for conflict resolution between supply chain partners—for example, a retailer might use TempTale data to make a claim with a grower or shipper if goods received were spoiled.

Sensitech's TempTale tags are built into active RFID transponders.
With this RFID-enabled application, called ColdStream Plant to Shelf (PTS), the TempTale devices are built into active RFID transponders. These are placed inside pallets or cases of perishable product before being put into transit. The sensors periodically record and store temperatures, and the 915 MHz active tags transmit temperature data to interrogators (readers) installed in warehouses, distribution centers and retail locations. This data is then collected centrally, and the PTS system sends alerts to supply chain partners when there is a danger of perishables becoming too warm or too cold.

"We believe this product offers end users an ROI in two main areas," says Rupert Schmidtberg, Sensitech vice president and chief technology officer. "First, it can reduce inventory shrink, which leads to improved operational efficiencies. Second, by improving temperature controls, users will improve the quality of the food they sell, which will retain existing customers and attract new ones. And in a world where Wal-Mart is taking other retailers' business on a price-competition basis, you'll find that more and more, retailers are turning to perishable goods to attract and retain customers. So if the quality of your perishables is important to you, how are you measuring it? If you don't measure it, it's hard to manage it."

A Sensitech retail client that participated in an early test of the PTS application tracked perishables from its DC to a retail location. Previously, it had not tracked this leg of the cold chain because the TempTale devices were removed at the DC. The client found that three commodities (chicken, berries and bagged salad) arrived at its store an average of 5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than specified. Equipped with this data, it could change its in-transit operating procedures for the DC-to-store trip so that the three commodities would be kept at an optimal temperature.

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