RFID Is Catching On in the Cold Chain

Monitoring the temperature of goods in the supply chain can deliver a huge return on investment.
Published: April 13, 2007

In the current issue of RFID Journal magazine, contributor John Edwards examines adoption of radio frequency identification technologies in the cold chain. The business case is compelling. Nearly 60 percent of all shrinkage in a supermarket is attributed to spoilage of perishables. That costs U.S. companies $35 billion a year.

The temperature loggers being used today to monitor the temperature of shipped goods are imperfect, and must therefore be manually inspected. The temperature of goods within a refrigerated container can vary by as much as 35 percent in different areas. RFID offers some benefits because each pallet can be tagged and its temperature tracked wherever its location in the container, and data can be collected automatically.

RFID temperature tags are still imperfect, but they are getting better. The RFID in the Cold Chain preconference seminar being held at RFID Journal LIVE! 2007 will explain the current state of the technology and how it can be used today to monitor the temperature of perishables and drugs that must be kept within a specific temperature range.

The seminar will feature a real-world case study: C.H. Robinson Worldwide will explain how and where it has been using RFID temperature sensors. The company will also reveal the benefits of the technology and how it plans to use it in the future.

Jean-Pierre Emond, co-director of the IFAS Center for Food Distribution and Retailing at the University of Florida, and Bill Hardgrave, director of the RFID Research Center at the University of Arkansas, will show how to quantify RFID’s cold-chain benefits. The two will discuss the findings of various research projects, as well as the challenges to properly implementing a temperature monitoring system.

It’s clear this is going to be a critical area for RFID in the future. Many companies have expressed interest in using the technology in the cold chain, and the preconference seminar is a great opportunity for them to learn where, when and how to do it.