Intelleflex launches on-demand, product-level monitoring for the perishable food and pharmaceutical

New RFID solution monitors the temperature of product at the package level while in-transit
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
November 16, 2010 - MMH Editorial

Intelleflex today introduced two new products to monitor assets in the cold supply chain: a handheld and a fixed RFID reader designed to work with Intelleflex tags to enable wireless, on-demand, product-level monitoring. The reader and tag combination can read tags at distances up to 100 meters or through RF-challenging environments that include metals, liquids and inside packages and containers.  The suite of products is based on the ISO/IEC 18000-6 and EPCglobal C1G2 RFID multi-protocol standards and is designed for temperature monitoring, asset tracking and other applications. 

The solution is designed to provide product-level monitoring, including in-transit visibility of cold-chain product temperature data at the package level, for the cold supply chain, where product-level monitoring is critical. It also enables producers, shippers, distributors and retailers to monitor product freshness and quality, on-demand, on fully loaded pallets or totes, delivering the ability to save billions of dollars of annual losses by avoiding product waste.

“An increasing number of key industry sectors are seeking automated data capture solutions that extend beyond reading a ‘license plate ID’ on an asset, object or item,” said Michael Liard, RFID Research Director for ABI Research.  “As a result, extended-capability RFID solutions are poised to deliver value for certain applications including ‘What is it?’ and ‘Where is it?’ to ‘How is it?’  For example, temperature sensing and recording are currently in tests for fresh produce, fresh and frozen meats, and pharmaceutical and laboratory applications, to name a few.”

The new solution addresses the increasingly critical problem of perishable-produce waste.  According to a recent study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), over half of the world’s food production is lost, wasted or discarded as a result of inefficiency in the human-managed food chain. A study conducted by the University of Florida Research Center for Food Distribution and Retailing stated that one-third of shipped produce is wasted annually, amounting to a loss of $35 billion each year.  Half of that waste is a result of temperature-related mismanagement – totaling over $17 billion a year. 

The product suite also addresses the increasing demand for in-transit temperature monitoring solutions that is associated with the dramatic growth in temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and biologics.  According to a 2006 study by the World Health Organization, biopharmaceuticals, which by nature are temperature-sensitive, require temperature checking, monitoring and recording – and it notes that temperature-monitoring data should be made available for review.  The study goes on to say that deficiencies in good distribution practices, with specific focus on temperature control and monitoring during shipment, have been cited as an ongoing issue by the FDA.

“As a result of inadequate temperature monitoring, producers, shippers and grocers continue to see excessive product shrink through perishable-food waste, with comparable impact to the biopharmaceutical supply chain,” said Peter Mehring, CEO of Intelleflex.  “Intelleflex gives cold-chain providers the tools they need to actively manage product in-transit– resulting in reduced shrink, higher product quality and safety verification – and improve efficiency throughout the cold chain.” 

According to Intelleflex, the company has piloted the solution at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (Honolulu, HI) and Clifford Produce (Ruthven, Ontario, Canada). Both users cited marked improvement in their operations and quality control. 



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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. Contact Bob Trebilcock.

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