New tagging system could enhance supply chain monitoring

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food safety, Cold chain, Packaging

StePac, part of DS Smith Plastics, has developed a web-based real time cold chain management system to monitor produce freshness and quality as it travels throughout the supply chain.

The Israel-based company said its Xsense Perishables Quality Monitoring Programme was developed for its fresh produce customer base but that the system is also suitable for other food sectors where cold chain management is critical such as meat and dairy.

StePac said the system has been developed to provide information about the quality of products pre-shipment, in-transit and post-arrival.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of food quality, safety, origin and traceability and this is exerting greater pressure on processors to keep track of every component in the manufacturing process.

According to the company, disposable low-cost tags are placed within the packaging, which begin to monitor and collect temperature and relative humidity data as soon as they are activated.

“A unique feature of Xsense is that it monitors both actual produce temperature and that of the surrounding environment,” ​claims StePac.

The company said that during land transport, data is transmitted in real time via proprietary technology to StePac’s server centre, while during sea freight, the information is logged and then downloaded upon arrival at the harbour.

“If there are any problems, the system immediately notifies all those concerned via email and/or text message. If the products are in transit, their exact location can be given using GPS data. Users can also obtain updates at any time by accessing the Xsense system via the Internet,”​ added the firm.

Shelf-life

The developer said that a major advantage of the Xsense system is its ability to analyse data and draw conclusions as to product quality and safety, with shelf-life prediction models also able to calculate the residual product quality:

"If shelf-life has been compromised en route, produce can be redirected to closer destinations. Xsense data analysis is also vital in helping to identify trouble spots in the supply chain,”​ claims the manufacturer.

The company claims that it has trialled Xsense with a number of customers in Israel and also with other European clients:

“A major benefit identified by users is how the system reduces the need for the manual inputting of data and at the same time outputs only the most relevant data. This has generated improvements to customers’ workflow procedures,”​ said the firm.

Meat tracking

Meanwhile, Matiq, the information technology subsidiary of Nortura, Norway's largest food supplier, recently announced it has joined with IBM to develop radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track and trace products from the farm, through the supply chain, to supermarket shelves.

Nortura is a Norwegian agricultural cooperative that operates slaughterhouses and other processing plants related to meat and eggs. The company is owned by about 31,200 farmers throughout the country and is one of 13 agricultural cooperatives in Norway.

The IT firm said the tracking system will improve the visibility and traceability of meat and poultry products and thereby improve food safety in Norway.

Matiq said that it will work with IBM experts on sensors and RFID to develop chips for meat and poultry product packaging initially.

“Traceability in the food chain is complex – the tracking system we are developing will generate information such as where the animal has been and the food it has eaten. The tag can be moulded into a crate or the product packaging depending on the meat product involved,”​ said CEO of Matiq, Are Bergquist.

"We anticipate the technology being market ready in nine to twelve months. In the meantime, it has to be tested with a dedicated customer base to evaluate its effectiveness at every stage of the supply chain and with the whole range of meat products from pork chops to meat balls,”​ he added.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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