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Nestlé Italy Finds RFID Brings ROI for Ice Cream
The company expects to see a range of benefits from using RFID tags with built-in sensors to verify ice cream is stored and transported at temperatures neither too cold nor too warm.
Apr 17, 2008—The Italian arm of Swiss food company Nestlé is expanding a pilot employing active, battery-powered ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to track ice cream as it moves from production factories to distribution centers and on to retail stores.
At the beginning of 2007, Piergiorgio Marasi, a supply chain ice cream and frozen food project and quality manager at Nestlé Italy, asked Swiss integrator IP01 to design a system that would help the company achieve better control of its distribution process. Nestlé sought to ensure ice cream stayed frozen at prescribed temperatures as it changed hands among a variety of internal and external partners before being delivered to shops.
Marasi visited a Manor grocery store in Switzerland, which employs a system implemented and managed by IP01 (At Manor, RFID Keeps Food From Spoiling). The system features stationary interrogators that receive temperature measurements transmitted by active RFID sensor tags installed in the store's freezers and refrigerators.
Marasi, however, wanted a system with mobile readers that could be mounted on delivery trucks or worn by delivery personnel so there would be no additional manual steps for workers.Therefore, he launched a feasibility study with the RFID Solution Center in Milan, and worked closely with IP01 engineers to design a custom solution.
In April 2007, Nestlé and IP01 chose a representative number of sites to participate in the pilot. The partners placed temperature-sensing RFID tags in two cold storage areas and one at the dock door of a production plant, as well as on five delivery trucks, in two cold storage areas at a single primary distribution center, in two cold storage areas at a secondary distributor, in two ice cream delivery trucks and at 50 shops. Two interrogators were placed at a loading area in the production plant, and another was mounted in the distribution center's delivery area. If sites were large and tags were out of the reader's range, IP01 installed a repeater that expands signal range so that only one reader was necessary.
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