Packaging Corner: Pallets take their own temperature

To combat waste in the food supply chain, packaging companies are employing technology to monitor goods.

By ·

As much as 30% of all produce that’s grown in the United States is thrown away before it even reaches consumers, says Rex Lowe, president of iGPS (Intelligent Global Pooling Systems). “That happens because it is out of date by the time it arrives at the store, or it has gone through an unacceptable temperature field that shortened its shelf life,” he explains.

To combat that waste—both in products and lost revenue—iGPS has created a line of plastic pallets embedded with active radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. This system provides a platform for pallet-level temperature monitoring, says Lowe. The tagged pallets can be rented by growers, producers, co-ops, shippers and brand owners.

“Previously, the only way to monitor shipped produce’s temperature was to measure the temperature of an entire trailer,” Lowe explains. “But inside the trailer, temperatures of individual unit loads can vary from bottom to top and front to back. By each pallet independently measuring the temperature around itself, it could prevent hundreds of thousands of dollars in shrink.”

While the technology is still in its infancy, its potential cost savings to the perishable supply chain—and for pharmaceutical handling—is huge.

Although tracking individual unit loads with passive RFID tags has become widespread, the ability to monitor temperature came with improved battery life and increasingly affordable hardware, says Lowe. “The active tag can be set to record temperatures at any frequency increment; longer increments mean longer battery life,” he says.

The tag is read by an interrogator that pulls the data from the tag and pushes it to software for analysis. If a certain load has spent time outside of a pre-set desired temperature range, an alert directs that product to be sold first or discarded. “This practice allows you to do a recall with a rifle rather than a shotgun,” he adds.

“The requirements for following these products through the supply chain are only going to expand and increase,” adds Lowe. “This technology offers a better means to control and monitor the products from the time of production to the time of consumption.”

Read more Packaging Corner.


About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
How Industry 4.0 Design Principles are Shaping the Future of Intralogistics
Industry 4.0 is changing how we interact with machines and how those machines interact with each other.
Download Today!
From the January 2018 Modern Materials Handling Issue
PFS built one of the largest and most automated AS/RS freezers in the world in Washington state. Next up is a new design for automation. Automated Storage/ Automated Retrieval System, Cold Storage.
Lift Truck Series Part 1: Lift truck technology connects pickers to productivity
Breaking Through On Yard Visibility
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Emerging Technologies for Your Distribution Center
Come get an insider's view of the latest technologies for inside your Distribution Center. You'll learn which technologies are being piloted, which are having success and moving from concept to implementation and into production on the maturity scale, and what's coming on the horizon.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Trinchero Family Estates: Pallet handling in the vineyard
The second-largest family-owned wine company in the world turns to automated pallet handling and...
System Report: Rocky Brands Sees the Light
Confronting an aging materials handling system and new channels of business with new customer...

Top 20 industrial lift truck suppliers, 2017
The top lift truck suppliers list is changing with industry acquisitions causing a dramatic...
Lodge Manufacturing: Distribution Cast in Iron
In a new facility, iPhones and a new WMS allowed cookware manufacturer Lodge to double its business...