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RFID tags also function as data loggers

By Pamela Riemenschneider


 
Initial start-up costs to use the Therm-AssureRF begin at about $1,000 for the scanner/reader (above), plus $500 for contracted support. Evidencia LLP supplies a free reader if 250 tags are purchased, says Alex Salomon, general partner.

(July 30) Evidencia LLP wants you to forget what you know about radio frequency identification when you’re talking about its ThermAssureRF tag.

“We took a totally different approach to making a temperature logger,” said Alex Salomon, general partner of the Memphis, Tenn.-based company. “We’re not aiming to be an RFID company. We’re offering a true, working, available-today wireless recorder that will enable people to monitor product at a short distance as often as they want.”

The ThermAssureRF, which was introduced for produce and perishables at the Fruit Logistica show in February, was first pilot-tested in 2005, after which it underwent commercial trials in 2006 by Chiquita Chile, Pandol Bros. and Chilean avocado shipper Rio Blanco Ltda.

The tag is unique, not only because it is read using radio frequency technology, but also because it can be placed inside a box and be read through cartons and polystyrene from up to 6 inches away using a hand-held device, Salomon said. Tags are encased in plastic and are waterproof. With an optional probe thermometer, pulp temperature also can be recorded.

“You can get to the heart of the pallet,” Salomon said. “Customers finally have a way, without destroying the pallet or retrieving the temp recorder, to check on precooling to make sure they’re getting what they pay for. You can stick it in the box and have the true temperature of the box instead of just relying on the air temperature.”

Evidencia thought the tags would be used primarily for truck monitoring, Salomon said, but customers are finding many more uses for them.

“That is the surprising part,” he said. “We are seeing them being used as early as in field and orchard monitoring, for cherries, for instance, or for field picking activities where temperature is key, for strawberries, then on to precooling, cooling and finally trucking.”

Tags can be programmed to e-mail a client every time they are read or whenever a temperature reading finds product has been out of range. Salomon said this can be particularly useful for the import/export market.

If a container is being loaded on a ship at the wrong temperature, an importer is able to know ahead of time and have a plan in place for when the load arrives, Salomon said.

“An importer can move that product right away and not store them in their distribution center,” he said. “That element of proaction represents a lot of savings. They can pull the container first and see what the damage is and move them right away.”
E-mail Pamela Riemenschneider
2007 Vance Publishing Corp