That’s the reality. Business, but what about its technological applications?
It seems that in the case of the Spanish market, a trend with its own imprint is the investment in RFID applications for controlled temperature. The partners of Amipem Consultores, a consultancy firm specialising in this technology and with whose partners-directors we have already had the opportunity to publish a case study in the last issue of April 2007, have a lot to say on this subject.
“The Spanish agri-food industry is increasingly concerned about the quality of its products throughout the distribution chain”.
“For this reason, investments are being made to ensure that products that must be transported, stored or distributed at controlled temperatures do so properly until they reach the end consumer”.
“And to be able to have temperature records that prove this suitability, it is now possible to install devices in the fixed cold rooms and on trucks, and also in the logistics units themselves, which record the temperature and reliably transmit it to the corresponding systems.
“In this way, at any time, and especially when a load is delivered, it is possible to determine the temperature development and the extent to which the temperature has remained within the set limits, and in the event of an incident, to provide valuable information for assessing the consequences.
“It is really a very interesting tool to improve the process and the relations between the different agents.
“The use of RFID technology for temperature control by manufacturers and logistics operators is spreading in very interesting projects with a very high ROU.”
“RFID technology in this field has some of the following characteristics:
• They are small-sized devices that, on the technological basis of RFID, have built-in sensors, such as temperature sensors.
• Temperature records can be recorded in a memory unit.
• There are tags whose service life depends on the duration of the integrated battery, and others in which the batteries can be easily replaced.
• At the moment, it has been possible to read within a radius of up to 100 metres.
• The tags can be parameterised in their operation, to adapt it to the needs of the different cases that arise.
• The existence of an internal clock also makes it possible to play with the time variable in order, for example, to establish operating sequences or to control exactly the real exposure time of the load or the environment of a chamber at certain temperatures.
• The option of integrating other types of sensors and, in particular, a GPS location device, can open up new fields of great utility in the world of temperature control, but also in other sectors of activity.
Its applications are:
- Possibility of generating a temperature registration document for its delivery together with the delivery note and the load or for the traceability of a specific merchandise. This is without prejudice to the fact that this information is incorporated into a company’s general management systems.
- The memory unit can also record other information such as, for example, the actual content – line by line – of a complete truck load (the electronic delivery note accompanying the load).
- t is possible to control the temperature of the chamber or work environment, but also, by placing a tag on a box or pallet, the temperature of the product itself to be monitored: we can have complete traceability of the temperature – or other data of interest – of that product from its manufacture until the moment it is so determined, and independently of the different work environments and locations through which it may have passed. This makes it possible to discriminate the real impact on the load of an oscillation in the temperature of the environment in which the load is located. This possibility of being able to measure both temperatures can be important in cases such as the storage and transport of blood products or vaccines in the pharmaceutical sector.
- Synchronisation with other technologies such as digital video cameras.
In this case, the question arises as to whether cutting-edge research in this technology will follow two different paths: one aimed at mass deployment in the mass distribution chain and the other aimed at specific sectors.
Will the next step be to integrate these two seemingly separate paths?