mardi 1 septembre 2009

Active RFID: European fruit supply chain benefits from Cool Chain Monitor

Dutch active RFID provider Ambient Systems and Information Highway Group (IHG), the Spanish RFID system integrator, have conducted a successful project with Bionest, the largest Spanish organic strawberry producer, and with one of Germany’s largest retailers. The use of Ambient’s third generation active RFID allowed Bionest to monitor the condition of strawberry transport from start to finish. The pilot used intelligent tags with a shelf-life algorithm, providing details of the quality of the strawberries per pallet. The integrated solution from Ambient and IHG created a ‘Cool Chain Monitor’ that offered immediate insights to substantially reduce waste and increase profit for all parties involved.

Up to 50% of food products are wasted in the food supply chain, according to a recent report from Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Mrs. Gerda Verburg . Strawberries and other ‘soft fruits’ that are highly sensitive to temperature conditions rank among the product categories with the highest loss in the supply chain. With better visibility on temperature conditions during transport and by applying a unique shelf-life algorithm, this loss can be reduced significantly. This was proven in the recent project by Ambient Systems and IHG to implement an integrated Cool Chain Monitor for Bionest and one of German’s leading retailers.

At the start of the transport in Spain, Ambient's SmartPoints (intelligent active RFID tags) were placed in the strawberry pallets. During transport they measured the temperature every 15 minutes. Upon arrival at the German distribution centre the temperature conditions and remaining shelf life of each pallet were communicated wirelessly through Ambient’s wireless network with GPRS connection. A web-based application from IHG made transport conditions and food quality immediately available after arrival to both Bionest and the retailer.

Thanks to the use of intelligent tags with integrated shelf-life algorithm, developed by Ambient Systems in cooperation with the University of Bremen, the usability of active RFID has been extended. By applying this algorithm to the temperature history of each pallet, end users can select the ripest fruit for immediate sale. This provides a feasible solution for ‘First Expire – First Out’ operations. Eelco de Jong, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Ambient Systems: “It is great to be able to contribute to a reduction in the loss of wasted food. The Cool Chain Monitor increases profits for food producers as well as retailers, and addresses the objectives for a more sustainable food supply chain. Our hard work in developing innovative active RFID solutions for the cool chain is paying off in more ways than one.”


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