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RFID Shelf-life Monitoring Helps Resolve Disputes

By attaching RFID-enabled sensors to shipments of perishable goods, producers and retail buyers can identify spoilage, and its causes.
By Terry Myers
Jun 04, 2007For producers and retail buyers of perishable products, one of the biggest challenges is the timely identification of spoilage, and its causes. From farm to fork, there are many points in the shipping and storage process where damage can occur, and it is often difficult—if not impossible—to accurately identify in whose custody specific damage occurred.

Traditionally, this has often resulted in a game of "he said, she said," with shippers, producers and buyers all pointing fingers at each other as they attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility. Even with loggers, gathering an accurate picture of a shipment's cumulative history is sometimes difficult to decipher easily, and is almost impossible without downloading a lengthy temperature history. What's more, waiting for a detailed history is very difficult when using a handheld device.

RFID sensor monitoring technology is revolutionizing the supply chain industry, but one of its most tangible advantages is the ability to flag aberrations quickly in the shipping and receiving process. New monitoring technologies are enabling users to answer questions regarding what happened when spoilage occurred, who was responsible and, most importantly, what can be done to prevent the shipment from being tossed.

Ultimately, this can reduce invoice disputes—and when problems do occur, it can make dispute resolutions fast and accurate for producers and retail buyers alike. These technologies use real-time, on-board calculations with call-to-action information using standard UHF RFID EPCglobal "no wait or delay" tactical results.

When most people consider RFID in the shipping process, they think of tracking packages. While this is an important function, another use for this technology is emerging: monitoring not only the temperature but the shelf life of perishable items, including meat, vegetables, medicines and flowers, at every stage of the so-called "cold chain."

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