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Cold chain management puts freeze on temperature related quality issues

The use of RFID temperature tags stretches the time window of products’ quality and optimises their shelf life

Cold chain management requires a procedure to manufacture, store and transport goods – typically pharmaceutical and food products – at a required temperature. Traditionally, the temperature of the goods is measured at various points in time. “This offers fragmented monitoring only”, explains Pascal Durdu, Innovation Manager at Zetes. “Even if the temperature is right upon arrival, you are never sure what the temperature was during transport.” True cold chain management requires continuous monitoring, registration and documentation, which is possible through the use of RFID temperature tags.

Quality support

With the current practice of cold chain management, food retailers are forced to throw out product when temperature recommendations weren’t followed. At the same time, they need to discard perfectly fine product that lasts beyond the estimated expiration date. Pascal Durdu adds, “Obviously, technology can’t improve the quality of food, but it can help to delay loss of quality.” 

For example, when bananas aren’t properly transported or stored at the right temperature, they lose weight. As a result the packaging of the bananas indicates more weight than what is offered in reality. Temperature is also critical for delicate fruits, such as raspberries. When not handled at the right temperature, these fruits start to perish faster than usual. 

A cold chain management system based on the reading of RFID temperature tags can solve all of these issues. Pascal Durdu concludes, “Tags register the temperature of the product’s environment. The system gathers all the data and produces alerts when the critical temperature is about to be exceeded - throughout the supply chain and through its multiple stakeholders.” This allows measurements to be taken at all times, preventing loss of quality and wastage. “The solution optimises the retailer’s shelf life management, offering practical support for LSFO (Least Shelflife First Out) decisions, rather than sticking to suboptimal FIFO (First In First Out) and FEFO (First Expired First Out).”