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Driscoll's Monitors Its Berry Shipments in Real Time

The company is using a combination of RFID sensors, GPS and cellular communication technology to ensure its products are transported at the proper temperature, and that trailers are not opened while in transit.
By Claire Swedberg
This summer pilot tracked approximately 30 trips from California to Florida, and the company is now employing the technology on trucks traveling from a cooling plant in Baja California, Mexico, to the Florida DC. In the future, Driscoll's intends to begin providing the four-component system (consisting of two sensor tags, a harness tag and a module interrogator) to trucks traveling out of other Mexican locations as well.

One of the greatest challenges, Reyes notes, involves ensuring that the set of components is retrieved and returned to Driscoll's. Currently, the truck driver or a distribution-center employee removes the three sensors and reader module, and the DC ships them to Locus Traxx, which then forwards the units back to Driscoll's. "What makes it more complicated," he states, "is that we're not using our own transportation services," so Driscoll's must train the third-party logistics providers to return the units.

While Driscoll's used 15 sets of four components during the pilot, it has now acquired 50. "It's giving us visibility we didn't have before," Reyes says, "and that's important for us. It's all about ensuring our product is at the market as quickly as possible [without experiencing adverse temperature conditions]." In the event of shipment delays, Reyes adds, he can go online, view the truck's status and determine, for example, whether that vehicle is stuck at a specific location, such as at a border security checkpoint.

The information can be used for historical details regarding shipments, how quickly carriers typically pass through customs or other specific areas, and where alerts (such as exceeded temperature thresholds) most frequently occur. It can also be utilized to track when drivers are traveling too fast from one point to the next. This data enables Driscoll's to evaluate its processes and make necessary changes, such as rerouting a shipment, identifying temperature extremes in particular locations and seasons that could require adjusting reefer temperature settings, or moving an individual shipment that has experienced delays ahead of others.

Driscoll's pays a monthly fee for usage of the hardware, and to access data on the Locus Traxx server. By using the system, the company can reduce expenses related to the spoilage or theft of berries. However Reyes indicates, it is too early to predict the firm's return on investment.

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