2009-09-03 Fruit-Alert with active RFID
Ambient Systems and IHG conduct successful revolutionary pilot with leading Spanish fruit producer and German retailer
Dutch active RFID provider Ambient Systems and Information Highway Group (IHG), the Spanish RFID system integrator, have conducted a successful project with Bionest, the largest Spanish organic strawberry producer, and with one of Germany’s largest retailers. The use of Ambient’s third generation active RFID allowed Bionest to monitor the condition of strawberry transport from start to finish. The pilot used intelligent tags with a shelf-life algorithm, providing details of the quality of the strawberries per pallet. The integrated solution from Ambient and IHG created a ‘Cool Chain Monitor’ that offered immediate insights to substantially reduce waste and increase profit for all parties involved.
Up to 50% of food products are wasted in the food supply chain, according to a recent report from Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Mrs. Gerda Verburg (1). Strawberries and other ‘soft fruits’ that are highly sensitive to temperature conditions rank among the product categories with the highest loss in the supply chain. With better visibility on temperature conditions during transport and by applying a unique shelf-life algorithm, this loss can be reduced significantly. This was proven in the recent project by Ambient Systems and IHG to implement an integrated Cool Chain Monitor for Bionest and one of German’s leading retailers.
At the start of the transport in Spain, Ambient's SmartPoints (intelligent active RFID tags) were placed in the strawberry pallets. During transport they measured the temperature every 15 minutes. Upon arrival at the German distribution centre the temperature conditions and remaining shelf life of each pallet were communicated wirelessly through Ambient’s wireless network with GPRS connection. A web-based application from IHG made transport conditions and food quality immediately available after arrival to both Bionest and the retailer.
Thanks to the pilot’s success, Bionest plans to expand the scale of the system next strawberry season. Thomas Cera, Sales Manager at Bionest: “The Cool Chain Monitor is going to create major benefits for the fruit supply chain. It’s cost-effective and very easy to install and use, all critical elements for the wide-scale adoption with our trading partners. The pilot project immediately identified areas to further improve the supply chain performance with our logistics partners. Being able to provide this accurate data on saleability of individual products also enhances the satisfaction of customers, which we are confident will lead to closer customer relationships.”
Thanks to the use of intelligent tags with integrated shelf-life algorithm, developed by Ambient Systems in cooperation with the University of Bremen, the usability of active RFID has been extended. By applying this algorithm to the temperature history of each pallet, end users can select the ripest fruit for immediate sale. This provides a feasible solution for ‘First Expire – First Out’ operations. Eelco de Jong, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Ambient Systems: “It is great to be able to contribute to a reduction in the loss of wasted food. The Cool Chain Monitor increases profits for food producers as well as retailers, and addresses the objectives for a more sustainable food supply chain. Our hard work in developing innovative active RFID solutions for the cool chain is paying off in more ways than one.”
Rafael Pous, Managing Director at IHG: “This cross-border exercise exceeded our expectations. The use of shared networks and the combined expertise of Ambient and IHG to create the Cool Chain Monitor places us at the top of this extremely exciting new market. There are countless possible uses for our systems, which we will be exploring over the coming months.” Hans Derksen, CEO of Ambient Systems, adds: “This project is an important breakthrough for Ambient Systems in the cool chain industry and a great example how our active RFID solutions are becoming important business optimization tools. Together with partners such as IHG we can provide competitive differentiators with strong impact on the profitability of forward-thinking companies.”1 Report Sustainable Food – Towards sustainable consumption and production of food (Nota Duurzaam Voedsel - Naar duurzame consumptie en productie van ons voedsel) – June 2009