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Fresh produce RFID inventory app fruit & vegetable handling
Fresh produce RFID inventory app manages fresh produce inventory for packers of fruit, vegetable, meats, and seafood. Fresh produce RFID solution from farmsoft is inexpensive to implement and uses easily available inexpensive RFID hardware for fresh produce.

Fresh produce RFID inventory app fruit & vegetable handling

Fresh produce RFID inventory app fruit & vegetable handling & control

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 introduces the reference scenario, highlighting main problems. The proposed reengineered model and its implementation in a real pilot project are reported in Section 3. Main details related to the software system architecture are summarized in Section 4. In Section 5, a description of the hardware adopted in our work is reported. A system validation is discussed in Section 6. Finally, Section 7 summarizes the conclusions and sketches future works.

RFID inventory control for fresh produce: Main Requirements and Open Issues in the Fresh Vegetables Supply Chain

The quick perishability of the IV gamma products, typically characterized by a shelf life of few days, makes the fresh vegetables supply chain, shown in Figure 1, a very interesting scenario.

Fresh produce RFID inventory app fruit & vegetable handling


Figure 1 Fresh produce RFID inventory app fruit & vegetable handling

The fresh food supply chain.

The three main actors involved in this supply chain are as follows.(1)The farm, which produces in farmland and greenhouses the raw materials (e.g., salad, lettuce, rocket, etc.).(2)The transformation company, which purchases and handles large amounts of raw materials in order to produce packaged vegetables.(3)The retailer, which, in general, sells finished products to the end consumer.

In order to study the main open issues of the analyzed scenario, one of the biggest fresh vegetables producers in the South of Italy, Jentu S. Agr. r. l. [21], was investigated. It includes two production centers located in different sites but is characterized by the same product flows.

In the following, the two phases of vegetables cultivation and products transformation are separately analyzed in order to better identify the main points where the use of innovative technologies, such as RFID, NFC, and EPCglobal, could improve the production capacity of the company. Let us observe that the conducted analysis did not involve the transportation process of the harvested vegetables, from greenhouses to the transformation factory, because it is not interesting from a reengineering point of view, since it does not affect on the products quality. In the considered company, in fact, greenhouses are located very close to the transformation factory.

2.1. Vegetables Cultivation

The cultivation phase affects the whole life cycle of vegetables, and it includes the activities of seeding, growing, harvesting, and so forth. All these activities are usually coordinated by an agronomist.

for fresh produce

  • Auto pallet RFID location tracking.
  • Pallets put onto truck are auto added to order, and checked for accuracy.
  • Pick up a pallet and its RFID instantly selected.
  • Add pallet/bin to production line and its auto added to batch for traceability

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RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

Zero waste
Stock rotation and expiry can be eliminated through automatic alerts, automatic FIFO enforcement, staff are guided to the exact location of fresh produce that must be processed or sold first.

Zero effort
Simply pick up a pallet/bin/bag and move it.  RFID by farmsoft automatically tracks fresh produce inventory movement, updates its location, and flashes an alert on your tablet. Select an order, load pallets onto truck..… RFID by farmsoft automatically adds the pallets to the
order / invoice. Tip a bin into a batch or add pallet to a batch, its auto added to the batch. If you have your own trucks, you can RFID tag them; when you load an order farmsoft RFID will know which truck you have loaded.

Zero errors
Ever put the wrong pallet onto a truck, only to discover the error and must unload? Ever sent the wrong pallet across the country only to have to pay for it to be returned? Never again! RFID by farmsoft will alert you the second you pick up a pallet that doesn’t match current order. Make fresh produce load outs faster, and 100% accurate.

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In particular, the Jentu company has several greenhouses, where a portion of the raw materials used in the transformation phase is cultivated. The agronomist, during her/his usual check visit, manually performs the activities of ground sensing and vegetables evaluation. In this step, she/he stores on paper notes all qualitative information detected.

The agronomist uses the captured parameters to decide actions to apply on plants and grounds and she/he annotates all performed operations (i.e., irrigation, sowing, treatments with plant protection products) on a paper form. Periodically, these data are saved into a digital system called “Field Log”. It is a management software tool that allows the farm to carefully store very important information about the operations carried out on plants, the adopted cultivation methods, and the use of approved cleaning products. Some activities, such as irrigation and temperature control, are executed in automated manner through remote terminal units and an advanced computerized control system.

Pallets, composed of bins, are used to move crops from the greenhouses to the transformation factory. The partition of a crop in different bins is needed in order to allow its partial use during the production steps, depending on retailers’ orders. Before being processed, the crop is weighted, classified and made identifiable by the attached form.

Let us observe that the activities performed by the agronomists are highly exposed to human errors and imprecision, mainly due to the manual execution of the operations and the asynchronous storing of the gathered data.

2.2. Products Transformation

The products transformation phase starts when one or more pallets of raw materials, coming from the greenhouses, are moved into the transformation cycle. A first check of the incoming products is performed. In particular, the quality control manager identifies the correct greenhouse of origin, by reading manually (i.e., without the use of an electronic device) the lot number placed on each pallet, and carries out the weighing process. The obtained data are compared and checked with the information reported on the delivery note. Furthermore, before being accepted, the incoming raw materials must pass a rigorous quality control process. In this case, the operator stores all data about the received products in the company Information System (IS), and prints the “raw materials identification tag” associated with the accepted pallet. This label contains, in addition to information about the quality of the accepted materials, the incoming date and a lot number associated with the particular bin of received products. This correlation is maintained in the “goods weights registry entry” document. Moreover, the identification label includes a linear barcode encoded in Code-128 format.

The accepted pallets are temporarily stocked in a storage warehouse, where they are arranged according to the arrival order, so as to be picked up more easily. Here, the temperature is always maintained between 0°C and +4°C to avoid the deterioration of the fresh products. The pallets are moved into the transformation process according to the First In First Out (FIFO) discipline. More in detail, the operators, by reading the information written on the label associated with each pallet, choose those with the earliest incoming date. Let us observe that this process can easily lead to the selection of wrong pallets, thus increasing the amount of product to be discarded in the next steps (e.g., husking).

The transformation process is essentially composed of different activities, such as husking, cutting, sorting, washing, and drying, which transform the raw materials in finished ready-to-eat (RTE) products. It starts when the operators pick up the pallets from the storage warehouse and move them into the husking area. In this step, the operator has to fill the “line loading register”, which contains important data for the product traceability, such as the lot number and the number of bins involved in the transformation process, the signature of the operator carrying out the registration, and the start and end times of the transformation process. The semifinished products are stored in a cold room where they remain waiting to be picked up for the next phase of packaging.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

Rapid and easy to implement RFID

1. Pallet position reader
2. Pallet tag reader
3. 10" tablet running farmsoft


Hardware costs as low as $450 per forklift.  No expensive infrastructure necessary.

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Each forklift requires...

RFID for fresh produceRFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

Android tablet

Use farmsoft on the tablet to view pallet maps (visual map shows where your required pallet is), view and select & fill orders, send invoices and more... The tablet will receive reads from the RFID reader.

RFID pallet control tag reader

RFID reader X 2

Use any RFID reader that has emulated keyboard mode, obviously you need to match the reader with your tags and test that the readers can scan at the required distances. 865-915Mhz recommended.

RFID fresh produce inventory USB hub

USB data hub

This allows multiple RFID readers to be connected to the tablet and will also power readers and keep tablet charged.   This hub should have its own power supply 36W+ to ensure enough power for all connected devices.

RFID Inventory control accessories

Other bits

Tablet clamp to hold tablet on forklift, USB cables as required, USB adapter, cable ties, bracket(s) for readers.

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RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

Your choice of RFID tags for fresh produce pallet control

When you print pallet labels from farmsoft, you can scan the RFID (or two, one for each forklift pickup side) so farmsoft knows which pallet to assign the RFID. This process takes 2 seconds and can be done using a tablet or PC and an RFID reader.

Choose RFID tags that already have a unique serial number encoded into them; there is no need for your to write to the RFID. RFID stickers start from 20 cents per sticker.  

The finished product is packaged and labeled manually or automatically. The packaging is done in a controlled atmosphere. The label on each package reports the ingredients of the product itself, information about the producer company (name and address), the method of conservation (in the refrigerator from +2°C to +8°C), the expiration date (calculated summing 7 days to the production date), a linear bar code encoded by EAN 13, and an alphanumeric string, which identifies the lot.

Finally, the packaged products are placed in plastic boxes and arranged on pallets, according to the orders received from customers. It is important to observe that, in this step, the labels attached on some packages, chosen in a random way, are checked. If a not compliant label is identified, the product is discarded and the entire pallet is checked. The prepared pallets are then moved into the outgoing warehouse, where they remain waiting to be shipped to the point of sale.

Unfortunately, most of the activities of the transformation cycle are performed in manual mode and, therefore, they can represent critical issues of the considered supply chain, especially in terms of timeliness (time spent on the activity) and correctness.

2.3. Requirements for an Efficient Traceability System

The conducted analysis allowed us to identify the main requirements that an efficient gapless traceability system, from the land to the table of the end consumer, should satisfy as follows.(i)Minimize the error probability in the procedure of data gathering and transcribing into the information system of the company.(ii)Allow the company to collect automatically a high amount of data, which can be used to provide to the end consumer a complete pedigree of the purchased products, from the land to the table of the consumer.(iii)Allow a correct and efficient flow of critical information through the whole supply chain, as the product is cultivated, transformed, transported, stored, and sold.(iv)Allow the company to improve recall procedures, reduce contaminations, and minimize risk in the supply chain.(v)Optimize the logistic process in terms of human resources and time.

3. Reengineered Model

The analysis of the open issues in the fresh vegetables supply chain allowed us to propose an efficient re-engineering of the main critical processes, exploiting the combined use of innovative RF technologies and the EPCglobal standard. In particular, the reengineered model was defined considering the adoption of passive RFID technologies in UHF band, such as transponders, readers, and antennas. Furthermore, a software infrastructure on top of the Fosstrak framework [22] was developed. In order to better appreciate the main benefits that the proposed model is able to provide, a pilot project was implemented and validated in the Jentu company.

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RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

3-D RFID pallet tracking.

Find pallets rapidly by viewing  pallet maps, easy to select another pallet that isn’t obstructed

Warnings during
order loading

Ensures every order is loaded perfectly by auto reading pallet RFIDs.

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How to test farmsoft RFID for fresh produce before committing to purchase:

The test below should cost no more than $150. Before you purchase bulk RFID hardware; you should buy a few testing items such as one RFID reader/scanner and three or four different types of RFID tags (make sure the tag matches the scanner, and has pre-programmed serial number) and the USB hub.

1. Plug the scanner into the hub, and the hub into any Android tablet. Open up a text document or blank email on the tablet (we just need a space where text can be dumped by the RFID reader).

2. Simulation test: On a forklift position the reader where you intend on installing it, and move the RFID tag into the position it will be on the pallet or floor and note the distances at which the reading occurs (in the blank document on the Android tablet, you will see a string of text added every time the RFID scanner reads the tag). If the RFID tags scan at reasonable distances based on where you intend to fix the reader, then this part of the test has succeeded. Otherwise reposition RFID scanner or tags until you get good results. See “How should I label my pallet positions?” for additional testing. You should test with your four different RFID tags to see if selected tags scan at different distances (this is common).

3. The Pallet Position Reader (1) should preferably not read when the fork is lifted for pallet transportation.

4. Test that your Wifi works in all coolers and warehouses (farmsoft fresh produce RFID requires an always on data connection). If you have dead spots, install boosters or Wifi access points with better antennae (note that 5Gen Wifi is pretty much useless in commercial environments because of its very short range and weak signal).

If you can pass the tests above you are ready to buy your RFID hardware for your entire fleet of forklifts.   If your RFID tests didnt pass, try different hardware, different RFID tags, or different RFID read distances.

Suggested RFID tags for fresh produce pallet inventory monitoring

We recommend 856-915Mhz RFID tags because their range is practical for most fresh produce RFID applications.   You can use RFID stickers that are applied to any carton on the pallet (obviously in the correct position for scanning) and will be disposable (from 20 cents a label). Alternatively you can apply re-useable plastic reinforced RFID tags that have a greater read distance, however cost a lot more so need to be removed from the pallet when its loaded for shipping.

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RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

How to mount RFID position reader on forklift

If possible, we suggest you mount the reader on the fork that lifts when a pallet is raised (you may need a longer USB cable depending on your forklift design). This should result in no RFID reads when you pass over a position tag and the pallet is raised for movement; when you lower the pallet a position tag will be read and the pallet will be automatically deselected (if no Order is currently selected).

If you can’t mount this reader on the bottom of the fork then tags will be read every time you pass over one, in this case you can enable a setting that stops farmsoft from automatically deselecting the pallet (note you will have to tap the screen to tell farmsoft when you are deselecting a pallet in this case. Mount the reader in position indicated about 4” from the ground for optimal RFID reads.

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How to mount pallet RFID tag reader on forklift

This reader doesn’t need to move with the fork (it can however if you want), and should be mounted at the height you will apply the RFID tag on the pallet (as close to as possible, and not obstructed by metal.

Staff that build pallets should be instructed to apply the tag at a consistent height and position to ensure every pallet RFID tag will be read easily. If your RFID tag is not integrated into your pallet label then you can continue to apply your pallet label in your chosen position for easy readability.

There is no height at which the RFID tag must be placed; choose a height that is practical for your combination of forklift and reader to maximize pallet tag accuracy and RFID scan distance.  

Can I use pallets with built in RFID tags?

Yes. In this case you will mount the pallet RFID reader on the fork near the position RFID reader. The process for assigning the pallet to the RFID is the same, obviously they need to scan the pallet to get the RFID serial.

How do I associate RFID tags with a pallet?

Simply scan the RFID after you add a new pallet in farmsoft (you will need to plug a reader into your PC [if using Android you will need a powered data hub and an external keyboard because plugging in an RFID reader will disable the software keyboard in Android OS), for this purpose the reader can simply be on a bench next to or near the PC (since users are likely printing labels during this same process), or use an Android device that has a built in RFID reader.

How should I label my pallet positions?  

Name each warehouse/cooler with a number, eg: 01, 02 etc. Isles with a number 01, 02 etc. Pallet positions with an number 01, 02 etc. If you stack pallets two high, swap the 0 for a 2, eg: 21 (level 2, position 1), 22 etc. You can tell the exact position of a pallet within your business: 01 02 04 (Cooler 1, Isle 2, Position 4). Apply RFID tags in front of each pallet position. Make sure the tag is in a position where it will be read when putting a pallet down. This is usually a few inches before the pallets physical floor space. Test before you permanently apply pallet position RFID tags by simply placing the tag on the floor and using the simulation test to check its read distance and position. To apply RFID tags for fresh produce pallet positions, chip a very shallow hole into the cement, insert RFID tag, cover over with superglue to make the surface flat and protect & preserve the RFID tag. Larger tags have better scan rates so you may choose a larger tag for your pallet positions, again, testing is essential. Paint pallet spaces on the floor to ensure pallets dropped in correct space for maximum RFID rea accuracy.

RFID pallet location map fresh produce
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

ILLUSTRATION:  farmsoft fresh produce pallet location map automatically updated using RFID tags in real time.  Effortless fresh produce inventory management.  

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How can I make my RFID tags read at greater distance?

If you need your pallet position RFID tags to read at greater distance ask your RFID tag provider which tags can have their read range boosted by placing a metal plate under them prior to installation (or experiment yourself with your test tags).

You can also plug the USB hub (which powers the RFID reader) into a higher powered USB charger (eg: higher wattage and voltage, or use a smart adaptable maximum wattage charger). Using a hub that isn’t powered (by a higher wattage USB charger) shortens read distances by 50% in our tests. In our testing with RFID tags; we achieved maximum read distance of 9.5” / 24cm using the cheapest readers we could find (ie: if this distance doesn’t work for you [it should if you position everything correctly] then buy more expensive RFID readers and use higher power UBB hub & charger, place metal plates behind RFID pallet position tags, or use non disposable tags that are larger and have greater read distance (remove from pallets during shipping process).

Can I skip RFID tagging pallet positions?

Yes, however users will need to select a new storage location every time they move a pallet; essentially the only benefit of using RFID for fresh produce like this would be to have the pallet automatically selected when it is picked up (for movement, and for adding to orders).

Can I tag every case?

Yes, however this will significantly increase the cost of your RFID project (please enquire), and also increase the required hardware costs by about 400-800%. Individual case tagging requires a project to determine your exact requirements and modify farmsoft RFID to match.  Please discuss this with your farmsoft consultant.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

Can I substitute any brand of RFID hardware?

Yes. Just make sure it passes the tests. You can use any RFID equipment from any vendor or simply order from Amazon.com.

How do I tag positions inside our trucks?

If you tag pallet positions inside your own delivery trucks, farmsoft RFID can detect the truck that you loaded the order onto. Simply tag the pallet spaces the same way you would for a warehouse or cooler.

Can we integrate other systems with farmsoft fresh produce RFID?

Yes. Ask your solution consultant for a quote to have our team perform any integration you require. Or, if you have your own I.T. department or vendor; you can integrate using the farmsoft API which is open to all companies and vendors.

In the cultivation phase, the use of NFC tags is proposed to identify both the operators and the fields where vegetables are cultivated. In particular, greenhouses and fields are partitioned into small portions, where only one type of product is cultivated. Each of these plots of land is uniquely identified by a NFC tag placed on a wooden pole. In such NFC tag an EPC code, encoded with the SGLN (Global Location Number) schema, is stored. The agronomist is provided with a badge containing an NFC tag, and she/he uses an Android smartphone equipped with NFC technology to store all information about activities performed on crops into the Field Log, avoiding the use of paper notes. More in detail, at the end of a treatment on a specific plot of land, the agronomist identifies herself/himself and the treated plot of land, bringing the NFC reader integrated in her/his smartphone to the tag placed on the badge and on the pole, respectively, and automatically stores all data about the performed operations in the mobile Field Log application. These data are immediately sent to the information system of the producer company, thanks to a wireless connection (i.e., 3G). It is noteworthy that the use of small plots of land allows a considerable reduction of the amount of resources used, such as fertilizers and water (i.e., these are used only where needed), while ensuring the production optimization (i.e., it can be slowed or accelerated on the base of the requests of the company). Furthermore, during the harvesting phase, the use of bins and pallets tagged with passive UHF RFID tags is suggested. In this step, the agronomist, after identifying herself/himself as previously described, uses a portable UHF RFID reader, connected via Bluetooth with the smartphone, to scan the EPC code applied on each bin of raw materials. Finally, this association is sent to EPCglobal-based traceability system and stored in the EPC Information Service (EPCIS) repository. This solution aims at enabling a complete traceability, which started from field.

3.2. Products Transformation

As previously described, bins and pallets of raw materials, which are moved into the transformation cycle, are tagged with passive UHF RFID tags. This type of tag is considered mainly because it is able to guarantee high performance in presence of multiple readings. Furthermore, thanks to a native feature of the EPCglobal standard, a traceability system in the whole supply chain can easily trace information at different layers (i.e., pallet, bin and product). In particular, EPC Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI) [23] encoding scheme is used to tag pallets; EPC Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI) [23] encoding scheme is used to tag bins. According to the reengineered model, the incoming warehouse of the company is equipped with a RFID gate composed of one UHF RFID reader and four Far Field antennas in UHF band. This configuration, in fact, is able to guarantee high performance in terms of successful reading rate of bins. A worker, after performing the weighing process, moves the pallets through the gate, enabling the automatic identification and validation of all incoming bins. The retrieved data are immediately compared with the information contained in an electronic version of the delivery note and saved in the information system of the producer. In such a way, the quality control manager has only to store data about the weigh and the quality control check executed on the accepted materials. All information not necessary for products traceability, but important for the company, are stored in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) database. For this purpose, an ad hoc Web service has been developed. This solution aims at removing efficiency problems, due to the manual execution of control and registration operations, currently performed as described in Section 2.2.

In the reengineered model, pallets and bins of raw materials stocked in the storage warehouse are tagged with passive UHF RFID tags and, therefore, an operator, by using a portable UHF RFID reader, can easily identify the appropriate pallets or bins to move into the manufacturing process. Two snapshots of the application used by the operator in this phase are shown in Figure 2. Let us observe that, also in this case, the combined use of RFID and EPC is able to overcome the efficiency limits previously described.

What happens if an RFID doesn’t scan?

This can happen because the RFID has been removed/fell off, or placed well outside the scan zone. In this case the forklift driver can simply type the pallet number into farmsoft to select that pallet.

RFID fresh produce inventory management for better traceability and less fruit & vegetable waste


Address the challenge of origin traceability in fresh produce; "Traceability - Your Product in the fresh produce pipeline," includes results of projects using RFID traceability for field to the shelf.   "With recent outbreaks of food borne illnesses, the vegetable industry has been proactive in developing a plan to trace fresh produce to its origin,"​ said FFVA​ marketing & international trade division director.

The seminar, covers lessons learned in the traceability project conducted by the PMA and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association that tested the feasibility of using RFID to track product starting at the distribution level.

rfid-fresh-produce-inventory-pallet-control
rfid-fresh-produce-inventory-pallet-control

"Many obstacles were overcome during the creation of this system. The seminar will show participants how this was accomplished,"​.   Guest speakers senior vice president and general merchandise manager of perishables for Wal-Mart, and Doug Grant, chief information officer for The Oppenheimer Group, a Canadian marketer of fresh produce from all over the world.

Peterson oversees all meat, produce, dairy, frozen, floral, bakery and commercial bread operations for Wal-Mart Stores, its domestic Supercenters and the new Neighborhood Markets. Grant serves on several industry committees; including co-chair of both Can-Trace and CPTTF Traceability committees. He received the 2003 Canadian Produce Man of the Year award. The convention is to be held 26 to 28 September 2004 in Florida, USA.  

The ability to trace food to its origins has become an increasingly critical issue for biosecurity and food safety, and many food manufacturers are looking at how best to apply the concept to fresh produce. In a separate move, a partnership between Merit-Trax, Syscan and Sensor Wireless was recently formed for this specific purpose.

Merit-Trax Technologies has selected Syscan International as its exclusive supplier of RFID technology for its Trax-IT Fructus software application. The application is designed to record and report quality inspections and environmental conditions of fresh fruits and vegetables from harvest to retail.

"Merit-Trax has developed an innovative software/hardware offering for the fresh fruits and vegetables segment of the food industry supply chain that is a perfect fit for our RFID technology,"​ said Syscan International president Axel Striefler.

"The immense potential of the fruit and vegetable marketplace is extremely exciting for our company and the sector is highly synergistic with our meat and seafood segment. We believe that Merit-Trax will play an important role in the deployment of our technology in the Americas."​

Sensor Wireless has been selected to supply its sensor technology, which will provide environmental and physio-chemical information to complement the system.

The Merit-Trax solution provides traceability and automates the capture of the physio-chemical quality and environmental data of fresh produce. This, says the company, enables producers to measure the benefits of precision farming methods.

The technology also provides traceability to verify the quality of fresh produce as it moves through the supply chain by monitoring temperature and environmental conditions in real-time.

"Our Trax-IT Fructus software provides traceability, quality and inspection management in real-time from seed to the retailer's backdoor,"​ said Merit-Trax director of sales and marketing Bob Aubertin.

"We strongly believe that Syscan's RFID technology will play a significant role in delivering an effective, efficient, value added application for our customers."​

The application will be compliant with the EAN/UCC Global Standards for traceability and with international regulations for exporting produce to markets outside of Canada.

Particular attention must be also paid to the choice of the type of tag to be used, since such tags must be used in critical conditions and, in particular, in humid environments, which absorb RF energy. Another important issue still open in the design of an effective traceability system in the fresh vegetables supply chain is related to the integration of management systems of all involved actors. Vegetables producers are generally small local farms without a proper information system, and therefore, actors interact through traditional channels (i.e., phone, fax). However, since the manufacturer can be considered the main actor of the fresh vegetables supply chain, a complete integration of the production company systems could represent an important starting point.

This work proposes an EPC-based gapless traceability system for the fresh vegetables supply chain able to exploit the combined use of different auto-identification technologies, such as RFID, NFC, and the less expensive DataMatrix. Particular attention was focused on the producer, and, therefore, on the early stages of the supply chain, which include farming in greenhouses and manufacturing of packaged vegetables.

The proposed item-level tracking and tracing system is characterized by a perfect integration among the adopted hardware and software subsystems in both the greenhouses and the transformation factory, preserving the role of agronomists and reducing the costs for the adoption of new technologies. Specifically, an innovative and low-cost hybrid system, in which the gapless traceability is ensured by the combined use of EPCglobal, passive UHF RFID solution, Android NFC smartphones, NFC tags (i.e., passive HF tags), and the less expensive DataMatrix technologies, is proposed.

Furthermore, an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) [20] is adopted to deploy both traditional and innovative management services in the greenhouses. A clear separation between the logical EPC-based traceability architecture, and the physical infrastructure is a key factor in the proposed system, as it ensures a smooth, gapless, and flexible product traceability both in the greenhouse and in the transformation factory. To validate the proposed reengineered model, a pilot project was implemented in a big Italian producer company. Measurements of the main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) [13] demonstrated the benefits derived by the use of implemented traceability system in a real scenario.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 introduces the reference scenario, highlighting main problems. The proposed reengineered model and its implementation in a real pilot project are reported in Section 3. Main details related to the software system architecture are summarized in Section 4. In Section 5, a description of the hardware adopted in our work is reported. A system validation is discussed in Section 6. Finally, Section 7 summarizes the conclusions and sketches future works.

Innovative gapless traceability system able to improve the main business processes of the fresh vegetables supply chain. The performed analysis highlighted some critical aspects in the management of the whole supply chain, from the land to the table of the end consumer, and allowed us to reengineer the most important processes. In particular, the first steps of the supply chain, which include cultivation in greenhouses and manufacturing of packaged vegetables, were analyzed. The re-engineered model was designed by exploiting the potentialities derived from the combined use of innovative Radio Frequency technologies, such as RFID and NFC, and important international standards, such as EPCglobal.

The proposed tracing and tracking system allows the end consumer to know the complete history of the purchased product. Furthermore, in order to evaluate the potential benefits of the reengineered processes in a real supply chain, a pilot project was implemented in an Italian food company, which produces ready-to-eat vegetables, known as IV gamma products. Finally, some important metrics have been chosen to carry out the analysis of the potential benefits derived from the use of the re-engineered model.

The ability to track and trace complete information at item level in an efficient and trustworthy manner is becoming more and more important for companies, mainly due to the increased consumer concern over the safety and the quality of the purchased products.

This is even more true for companies involved in the fresh vegetables supply chain, because the delicacy of fresh-cut products requires all stakeholders to organize their business processes as efficiently as possible to guarantee the end customers the highest quality products.

rfid-fresh-produce-inventory-pallet-control
rfid-fresh-produce-inventory-pallet-control


The shift from quantity-oriented agriculture to new emphasis on products quality and people’s safety has placed new demands for the development and adoption of traceable supply chains. Traceability represents the ability to capture, collect, and store information related to all processes in the supply chain in a manner that provides guarantee to the consumer and other stakeholders on the origin, location and life history of a product.

In particular, the adoption of an effective gapless traceability system, in the fresh vegetables supply chain, could enable companies to (i) detect warnings associated with product contaminations quickly and accurately, and (ii) optimize their main production processes in order to reduce cultivation costs and to ensure, at the same time, production optimization. Furthermore, an efficient traceability system represents a fundamental tool for people with special needs, such as patients affected by multiple intolerances [1], who struggle every day to perform elementary actions, such as the choice of food, because of the adverse reactions that particular components could cause if taken.

The development of an efficient traceability system requires the introduction in the supply chain of the technological innovations needed for product identification, process characterization, information capture, analysis, storage, and transmission, as well as the overall systems integration. These technologies include hardware (such as identification tags and labels) and software (computer programs and information systems) solutions.

In particular, two of the most important auto-identification technologies able to optimize the critical processes in a supply chain are Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) [2] and Near Field Communication (NFC) [3]. They promise to replace the traditional optical auto-identification solutions in near future. Among the different types (i.e., passive, semipassive, and active) of RFID transponders, often called “tags”, the passive ones are used in most tracing systems, because they are characterized by a very low cost and small dimensions, since they do not require battery to operate.

Passive RFID tags can also be classified according to the frequency band used (e.g., LF, HF, UHF, etc.) and the type of coupling (i.e., magnetic or electromagnetic) between tag antenna and reader antenna. The UHF tags could occasionally encounter problems, causing performance degradation, in the presence of materials, such as liquids and metals, which absorb Radio Frequency (RF) energy. However, some recent works [4–7] have demonstrated that the design of particular UHF tags is able to resolve such issues, thus demonstrating that they represent the best solution for item-level tracing systems in the whole supply chain.

NFC is a short-range wireless (HF 13.56 MHz) technology derived from the RFID family. NFC entities can share power and data over a distance of a few centimetres (less than 5 cm). They inherit the basic features of RFID technology (i.e., working in reader/writer mode with passive tags) but they are also characterized by the possibility to share data across active (powered) devices [8]. The diffusion of these RF technologies has been significantly increased by the asserting of international standards such as EPCglobal [9–12] and Global Standard 1 (GS1).

In particular, the EPCglobal standard provides a promising open architecture for tracking and tracing objects over the Internet. It defines a full protocol stack able to guarantee item-level data sharing related to products that move in the whole supply chain.

The combined use of different RF technologies and standards in order to improve the supply chain management has been strongly investigated in literature [13, 14]. They were also successfully applied to the agro-food sector [15, 16]. However, the development of a complete gapless traceability system, from the land to the table of the end consumer, is still at the early stages and many issues are still open.

Most works propose solutions too invasive and, therefore, not accepted by the operators. A typical example concerns the use of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) in greenhouses in order to achieve a precision agriculture [17–19]. Although the use of this technology promises many benefits, its adoption is very limited, since expert agronomists, that argue no sensor node can ever replace their skills, do not accept its use. Therefore, a very critical aspect in a re-engineering procedure is that the proposed solution must be thoroughly understood by the operators, before to be accepted, and applied. Furthermore, costs related to the introduction of new technologies are relevant and block their wide adoption. Indeed, although most of the solutions presented in literature are exclusively based on the use of RFID tags, the cost of a tag is still too high to justify its adoption in the packaging of low cost products, such as fresh-cut products, whose price in Italy is about 1-2 euro per pack.

RFID implementation in fresh food / perishable produce businesses...

The ability to track and trace complete information at item level in an efficient and trustworthy manner is becoming more and more important for companies, mainly due to the increased consumer concern over the safety and the quality of the purchased products. This is even more true for companies involved in the fresh vegetables supply chain, because the delicacy of fresh-cut products requires all stakeholders to organize their business processes as efficiently as possible to guarantee the end customers the highest quality products.

The shift from quantity-oriented agriculture to new emphasis on products quality and people’s safety has placed new demands for the development and adoption of traceable supply chains. Traceability represents the ability to capture, collect, and store information related to all processes in the supply chain in a manner that provides guarantee to the consumer and other stakeholders on the origin, location and life history of a product. In particular, the adoption of an effective gapless traceability system, in the fresh vegetables supply chain, could enable companies to (i) detect warnings associated with product contaminations quickly and accurately, and (ii) optimize their main production processes in order to reduce cultivation costs and to ensure, at the same time, production optimization. Furthermore, an efficient traceability system represents a fundamental tool for people with special needs, such as patients affected by multiple intolerances, who struggle every day to perform elementary actions, such as the choice of food, because of the adverse reactions that particular components could cause if taken.

rfid-fresh-produce-inventory-pallet-control
rfid-fresh-produce-inventory-pallet-control


The combined use of different RF technologies and standards in order to improve the supply chain management has been strongly investigated in literature. They were also successfully applied to the agro-food sector. However, the development of a complete gapless traceability system, from the land to the table of the end consumer, is still at the early stages and many issues are still open. Most works propose solutions too invasive and, therefore, not accepted by the operators. A typical example concerns the use of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) in greenhouses in order to achieve a precision agriculture.

Although the use of this technology promises many benefits, its adoption is very limited, since expert agronomists, that argue no sensor node can ever replace their skills, do not accept its use. Therefore, a very critical aspect in a reengineering procedure is that the proposed solution must be thoroughly understood by the operators, before to be accepted, and applied. Furthermore, costs related to the introduction of new technologies are relevant and block their wide adoption. Indeed, although most of the solutions presented in literature are exclusively based on the use of RFID tags, the cost of a tag is still too high to justify its adoption in the packaging of low cost products, such as fresh-cut products, whose price in Italy is about 1-2 euro per pack. Particular attention must be also paid to the choice of the type of tag to be used, since such tags must be used in critical conditions and, in particular, in humid environments, which absorb RF energy.


The development of an efficient traceability system requires the introduction in the supply chain of the technological innovations needed for product identification, process characterization, information capture, analysis, storage, and transmission, as well as the overall systems integration. These technologies include hardware (such as identification tags and labels) and software (computer programs and information systems) solutions. In particular, two of the most important auto-identification technologies able to optimize the critical processes in a supply chain are Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC).

They promise to replace the traditional optical auto-identification solutions in near future. Among the different types (i.e., passive, semipassive, and active) of RFID transponders, often called “tags”, the passive ones are used in most tracing systems, because they are characterized by a very low cost and small dimensions, since they do not require battery to operate. Passive RFID tags can also be classified according to the frequency band used (e.g., LF, HF, UHF, etc.) and the type of coupling (i.e., magnetic or electromagnetic) between tag antenna and reader antenna. The UHF tags could occasionally encounter problems, causing performance degradation, in the presence of materials, such as liquids and metals, which absorb Radio Frequency (RF) energy. However, some recent works have demonstrated that the design of particular UHF tags is able to resolve such issues, thus demonstrating that they represent the best solution for item-level tracing systems in the whole supply chain.

NFC is a short-range wireless (HF 13.56 MHz) technology derived from the RFID family. NFC entities can share power and data over a distance of a few centimeters (less than 5 cm). They inherit the basic features of RFID technology (i.e., working in reader/writer mode with passive tags) but they are also characterized by the possibility to share data across active (powered) devices. The diffusion of these RF technologies has been significantly increased by the asserting of international standards such as EPCglobal and Global Standard 1 (GS1). In particular, the EPCglobal standard provides a promising open architecture for tracking and tracing objects over the Internet. It defines a full protocol stack able to guarantee item-level data sharing related to products that move in the whole supply chain.

Another important issue still open in the design of an effective traceability system in the fresh vegetables supply chain is related to the integration of management systems of all involved actors. Vegetables producers are generally small local farms without a proper information system, and therefore, actors interact through traditional channels (i.e., phone, fax). However, since the manufacturer can be considered the main actor of the fresh vegetables supply chain, a complete integration of the production company systems could represent an important starting point.

Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software

farmsoft Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solutions make fresh produce handling easy by generating PTI labels, tracking traceability, generating documentation, and making audits easy and efficient.  Guaranteed to improve food safety processes.

Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution for packers of fruit and vegetables: processors, exporters and wholesalers of fresh produce.  

Control the entire fruit packaging, sales and distribution processes.    

Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solutions from farmsoft guides employees through the entire Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution process, making sure every action is taken at the correct time, and correct traceability details are being preserved at every step.  This results in reduced waste and increased employee productivity by following correct food handling and food safety processes for post harvest activities in Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution environments.  From receiving fresh produce into your packing and processing facility, thru quality control, packing, washing, sorting, grading, packaging and value adding.  The farmsoft Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution follows the fresh produce thru the sales and dispatch process, and allows for rapid traceability and recalls in the event of a food safety recall or supplier quality issue.  Designed specifically for fruit and vegetable growers, packers, processors and wholesalers – farmsoft delivers accurate traceability management and improved business management efficiency.  Guarantee compliance with traceability standards both domestic and international.  

For enterprise

For a Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution that requires easy management of fruit handling, storage, fruit packaging, processing, and sales – choose the farmsoft Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution. Using farmsoft Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution, your fruit packaging facility can implement higher traceability and food safety standards. Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution from farmsoft concentrate on the reduction of post harvest waste and fresh produce spoilage. Your farmsoft Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution expert can provide your fruit packaging facility with expert advice and guide your team through the implementation process to ensure your Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution is up and running in no time at all.  During this process, various farmsoft fruit packaging functionality will be tweaked to ensure the Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution provides all possible benefits and cost savings for your fruit packaging facility.   The Enterprise edition of farmsoft Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution includes exclusive functionality not available in other editions of farmsoft  (see comparison between Enterprise and Small Business editions).    

Full support, full training, all features & benefits included.  

Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution made easy.  Reduce waste and fruit packaging complexity now!   Talk to a solution expert today.

Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

Your Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software solution will make every day fresh produce business management easier and more efficient.  Contact us to talk with an expert today.

Wholesale RFID Fresh produce management software  

The complexities and subtleties underlying the concept of quality as applied to the agri-food sector, underlying its components, the implicit and explicit needs to which a product must conform and the implications of this new approach throughout the chain. Activity 1 will be used for this purpose, a simple definition of quality to which progressively new elements are incorporated to explain the complexity of the notion. The participants assembled in teams and with the support of reference materials, analyse the importance of processes for the quality of horticultural produce, considering relations between standardization, certification of quality attributes and accreditation of certification systems.

The importance of appropriate post-harvest handling of produce to preserve quality as a differentiating factor and as a market opening tool.

On the processes of respiration, transpiration and ethylene production, relating directly with the senescence of perishable produce. Using examples he will clearly identify the relations between primary causes of produce deterioration (biological/physiological/mechanical/physical) and other causes resulting from inadequate handling during harvest and post-harvest (transportation, packaging, storage, etc.). Briefly show some available technologies minimizing quality and safety losses and making the post-harvest handling of produce more efficient (reduced microbiological contamination, minimized water losses, reduced ethylene damage and insect control).

A case study, based on hazard analysis (damages) associated to quality losses, clarifies strategies to approach quality assurance programmes for fresh horticultural produce.

Discuss the limitations detected in post-harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables for each country from the standpoint of infrastructure, available information, research and training of the actors in the chain.

* understanding of the components of quality and the procedures involved to determine produce quality;

* opportunities provided by post-harvest technologies to profit from market openings, reduce inefficiencies in the chain and improve competiveness;

* identified the relations between quality standardization processes, quality certification processes and accreditation of certification systems required for the successful implementation of quality and safety assurance programs;

* critical procedures to maintain quality and safety of fresh fruits and vegetables, throughout the post-harvest handling chain; available post-harvest technologies that reduce risks associated with quality losses and safety of horticultural produce;

Food can transmit disease from person to person as well as serve as a growth medium for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. In developed countries there are intricate standards for food preparation, whereas in lesser developed countries the main issue is simply the availability of adequate safe water, which is usually a critical item.[1] In theory, food poisoning is 100% preventable. The five key principles of food hygiene, according to WHO, are:[2]

  1. Prevent contaminating food with pathogens spreading from people, pets, and pests.
  2. Separate raw and cooked foods to prevent contaminating the cooked foods.
  3. Cook foods for the appropriate length of time and at the appropriate temperature to kill pathogens.
  4. Store food at the proper temperature.
  5. Do use safe water and safe raw materials.

Reference: Less fresh produce waste more traceability Accurate inventory shipping fruit handling guidelines traceability guidelines food safety fresh produce traceability.

RFID forklift scanner gives up-to-date overviews of internal logistics movements

Where in the warehouse are the forklifts? Which goods are they transporting and where are these items being placed? Routes can be efficiently organized. This is done by using automatic location and loading controls and route registration. Companies can also get an accurate, up-to-date overview of their internal logistics movements.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

In order to locate forklifts, Aucxis fits them with passive RFID's. Aucxis is a Belgian automation company. Determining the forklifts' locations can be done in realtime. It can also be done on a continuous basis at a single site or at strategic places. These locations can, for example, be zones changes - floor location, shelf location. They can also be at scanning, pick-up, drop-off, and so on.

Floor tags are easily place in the floor. These act as marking points for the creation of a clear location grid. No complex infrastructure is needed for this.

Forklifts can also be equipped with detection equipment. This is used to read RFID tags or barcodes (1D/2D). This equipment ensures the automatic scanning and registration of transported items. This is also true for load carries such as pallets, boxes, and containers. Manual scanning is used as little as possible.

Click here for the project example: Veiling Zaltbommel

RFID system looks to improve freshness monitoring

In an interconnected world, fresh produce is shipped frequently, often across continents. Making sure produce is fresh is key to making the cold chain work, and that involves accurately monitoring product shelf-life. Intelleflex, a company which specializes in tracking solutions using radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, works to make the tracking process more accurate, and has been attracting interest from several sectors of the produce industry.

Intelleflex provides monitoring and tracking solutions using battery assisted passive (BAP) RFID technology. An RFID system uses small tags to identify and track things and the Intelleflex solution also adds sensor capabilities to monitor temperatures and other conditions. The produce industry has traditionally used this technology to track product throughout the cold chain. The advantages of the BAP system that Intelleflex offers, in addition to the sensor capabilities, are cost and accuracy. Compared to older, passive systems, the BAP system allows for greater range and data capabilities, and compared to active systems, it is more cost-effective and can thus be deployed widely throughout the shipping process. Because of these advantages, tags can be placed inside individual pallets and the temperature and relative shelf-life of produce can be tracked at the individual pallet level.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control



The ability to accurately measure the temperature of individual pallets makes the system attractive to growers who wish to reduce the amount of produce wasted through processing, precool and shipping.

“What we're able to do is evaluate the relative quality and freshness of the product,” says Kevin Payne of Intelleflex.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

“We found that temperature variation is significant, even within a single packing house,” he adds, “and that can be due to when the fruit is picked, how it's shipped and where it's stored. The resulting temperature variation can cause significant aging in the field before the product even reaches the packing house. Every hour the produce spends above 70 degrees, it ages about one day. So if it sits for four hours and the temperature is above 70 degrees before it gets to the packing house, it may have aged up to four days.”

That can lead to variations in freshness inside a single freight container. If temperature and freshness is not monitored on a pallet level, the result could be mistakes when evaluating produce quality.

“If the retailer pulls one pallet from a truck, they'll assume the entire trailer is like that, and if it's not fresh, they'll reject the entire truck,” he says.

In such a case, the grower eats the cost of wasted produce. What pallet-level monitoring allows is a shipping system with more uniformity of freshness.

“What we enable growers to do is, instead of visual inspection, know the shelf-life based on a temperature history so pallets can be built in ways that every pallet in a shipment has the same shelf-life.”

Such a system would allow a grower to ship produce with the longest remaining shelf-life to destinations which take longer to reach.

Payne notes that, although the system has attracted interest from growers, it's also appealing to the food service industry, since better monitoring of produce freshness ensures quality products for their customers.

And it's also led to partnerships with the insurance industry.

“We recently partnered with The Hartford where we're working to help reduce insurance rates for those who insure their produce,” he says.

The aim is to better track produce, and in that way reduce loss due to spoilage on insured shipments. With fewer losses, claims and rates may go down.

Finally, Payne notes that the effort to better track food shipments can serve a broader goal.

“With more people on earth, we run into the problem of how to feed so many people. One way is to just grow more food, but another thing that can be done is to manage food shipments more efficiently. A large percentage of the food currently grown is wasted, and if we can reduce that waste, it would go a long way toward feeding the world's population.”

For more information:
Kevin Payne
Intelleflex
Tel: +1 408-200-6567
Mob: +1 408-910-1726
kpayne@intelleflex.com
www.intelleflex.com

AU: RFID monitoring is suited to regular routes

As supply chains adapt to Covid-19 social distancing requirements, autonomous reporting technologies like RFID (radio frequency identification) offer a consignment monitoring solution with minimal human intervention. RFID is used to reliably gather temperature data along regular, high volume supply chains and offers the potential to make improvements at predetermined links in the chain.

Manbulloo was the first Australian grower to export R2E2 mangoes directly to mainland China and South Korea. Part of their success is due to cultivating close, trusting relationships with supply chain partners. The ability to retrieve temperature data from the cold chain and share that with supply chain partners has been key to building that trust. The temperature data is critical to making improvements in supply chain practices, building trust and commitment with partners and delivering consistently high-quality product with longer shelf life.

Scott Ledger, Export Manager at Manbulloo said that, with the help of the Serviced Supply Chain team, they started looking for alternatives to USB temperature loggers, mainly because the logger recovery rate was less than 25%. SIM-based loggers were just becoming affordable, but none had approval on airlines with regular flights from Australia. So, they evaluated an RFID temperature monitoring system about 4 years ago. The loggers do not require airline approval, and the autonomous upload of data using communication units overcomes the difficulties of retrieving data from USB devices.

Another benefit of RFID is the automatically generated SMS or email alerts to approved supply chain members notifying of consignment arrival and key consignment information such as a summary of the temperature data and alerts of any temperature deviations outside set limits.

The RFID system requires the placement of the communication units at strategic points in the chain. Scott placed the communication units at the packhouse, the freight forwarder and at the importer in China and South Korea. “We chose these points based on two factors. It’s where temperatures sometimes started going wrong and where we had supply chain partners who could fix the problem if it arose,” said Scott. The RFID system is generally only cost effective for high volume chains where there is repeat business.

Good communication and training with staff is important to ensure correct installation and reliable operation. Over the 4 years, accessing and sharing the data with supply chain partners has increased shelf life of the fruit on arrival at the importer by up to 50% by:

  • Ensuring cooling of mangoes down to 13˚C before dispatch from the pack-shed and cutting the time spent at the facility by half. This has included better use of fan-forced cooling.
  • Re-cooling of some consignments back down to 13˚C by the freight forwarder
  • Requesting importers to adjust holding temperatures when these deviate from the preferred range

Scott said, “All up, this has meant faster movement through the chain at more appropriate temperatures”.

Some of the pros and cons of the RFID system are listed in Table 1.

Table 1- Pros and cons of RFID temperature monitoring systems.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control

On the right is an example of an RFID logger and communication unit. The logger is placed in the consignment, and the communication unit placed at strategic locations along the supply chain.

Some examples of RFID products on the Australian market include Xsense, Sensitech Coldstream RF and Emerson Autosense Inbound. Visit our website for more information on the supply chain innovation research program and access to factsheets on temperature monitoring technologies.

Business expenses better under control with new Nomad RFID key

The unique wireless labour registration system of Nomad, which amongst others, consists of imput equipment, with which all labour and production data are accurately recorded, has been extended with new RFID cards and keys. The user friendly RFID system of Hoogendoorn makes scanning without contact possible. The advantage is that environmental factors, such as light and pollution, no longer influence the scanning performance. The scan results of RFID keys are therefore very reliable. Entrepreneurs in glasshouse horticulture are therefore still in a better position to limit expenses of personnel

and protection means to a minimum.

RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control
RFID Fresh produce inventory pallet control



Nomad labour registration

Nomad is a wireless real-time system from Hoogendoorn, which registers data and analyses cultivation yield, labour productivity and illnesses and pests. This information, which is supplied in detail, is used by nurserymen and growers to optimize their management. Practical situations show that horticultural companies with labour registration may well be able to save 15% of the cost of labour, because staff can be used in a more efficient manner.

Nomad extended with RFID key and card

Within the company Hoogendoorn a lot of attention is being paid to the development of existing solutions. Close contact with clients has led to a new and reliable manner of scanning. The innovative RFID system, which consists of a RFID tag (scanning card) and a NOMAD key (scanner), which supply the RFID reader, makes imput without contact possible. The RFID cards are the size of a bankcard. They can even self be programmed and can simply and quickly be scanned from close-by. The advantage is that environmental factors, such as light and pollution, have no influence on the scanning results. In this way imput is without interference and without mistake. The RFID system supplies reliable information about all labour and production data. Entrepreneurs in horticulture are therefore even better able to limit business expenses to a minimum.

Introduction

The user friendly RFID registration system will be introduced during the Tuinbouw Relationship Days (14, 15 and 16 February) in Gorinchem.

At stand 436 the standholders of Hoogendoorn look forward to demonstrate to their visitors how the NOMAD RFID system makes business expenses clear and manageable.

About Hoogendoorn

Hoogendoorn are supplier of innovative automation solutions in the areas of climate, water, energy and information management in glasshouse horticulture. Hoogendoorn is a worldwide supplier with dealers. agents and own offices in more than 20 countries. Hoogendoornn is part of Batenburg Techniek. This group consist of 13 independent operating installation companies. These technical trading companies supply products and solutions in the areas of electro technique, electronics, energy and fastening techniques to clients and principals in industry, horticulture and the infra-structure.

Netherlands: RFID for efficient management pallet boxes at Veiling Zaltbommel

Annually at Veiling Zaltbommel 18,000 wooden and plastic pallet boxes are delivered filled with top fruit. These are stored in 70 ULO (Ultra Low Oxygen) storage cells. Aucxis was employed to automate the registration of the import by hand, export and placing of the pallet boxes in the cooling complex of Zaltbommel with RFID technology, so that a real time picture can be arranged of the actual number of pallet boxes in the cold stores.


Structure of project

• The delivery of a unique pallet box with integrated

RFID-tag.
• The RFID-reader of the filled pallet boxes on the fork-lift trucks and the RFID floor tags.
• The registration of every incoming and outgoing

movement in each individual cold store on the basis

of the floor tags
• A cold store stock program showing which pallet boxes

have been placed in the cells.



Printed label with RFID-tag


Screenshot fork-lift track terminal

Result:
• Veiling Zaltbommel has accurate information at all times regarding the number of pallet boxes in each cell
• Manual registration of movements of pallet boxes no longer required
• Advantages summarized:
-100% accurate data in real time
-Increased efficiency
-Time saving
-Cost saving



For more information:

www.Veling-zaltbommel.nl

Sensor tag detects food spoilage

VTT has developed a sensor that detects ethanol in the headspace of a food package. Ethanol is formed as a result of food spoilage. The sensor signal is wirelessly readable, for instance, by a mobile phone. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is searching for a partner in order to commercialise the sensor.

The sensor monitors ethanol emitted from the spoilage of foods into the headspace of a package. Ethanol, in addition to carbon dioxide, was found to be the main volatile spoilage metabolite in fresh-cut fruit. The information given by the sensor is transmitted from the package to the customer by means of a reader, and the data is saved digitally in a remote server.



This ethanol sensor can have potential in other applications, such as in alcometers.

The sensor layer is part of a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag, and the sensor data can be read wirelessly using an RFID reader in, for example, a smartphone. The sensor transmits information about the freshness of the food in the package to the retailer or customer. The freshness data can be stored in real time in the cloud, enabling the comparison of food quality with its previous or later condition.

A similar optical readout based on the colour change of the ethanol sensor was also developed for a smart-phone.

The sensor and the RFID tag can using printing techniques be manufactured into a label or sticker and easily attached to a food package. The price of the sensor will then be low enough for use in food packages.

Using the sensor, it will be possible to control the food quality throughout the distribution chain and to prevent waste caused by spoilage. More than 100 tonnes of food products end up in waste annually (estimation 2014) in Europe, and the amount will rise to 126 million tonnes in the year 2020 if nothing changes.

The sensor is developed in the European project SusFoFlex Smart and sustainable food packaging utilizing flexible printed intelligence and materials technologies, EU 7th Framework Programme Agreement No 289829. The invention is currently in the process of being patented.
An UHF RFID gate, placed at the entrance of the husking area, detects the bins of raw materials moved into the transformation process and automatically updates the information system of the producer. Let us observe that the use of RFID technology allows to substantially mitigate correctness and timeliness problems, since all the information previously recorded manually by the workers are now detected by the gate and managed by the information system. The low cost of fresh ready-to-eat products does not justify the use of RFID tags to identify each item; therefore, the adoption of the DataMatrix technology is proposed to implement an efficient item-level traceability system. Each finished RTE product is labeled using a two-dimensional barcode containing the Serialized Global Trade Number (SGTIN) EPC code in ECC 200 encoding scheme. By this way, a 2D code reader can be used to trace data on each finished product.

Finished products, before being placed in reclosable boxes equipped with UHF RFID tags, are read by a DataMatrix reader. Furthermore, the use of an UHF RFID reader enables the association between the packaged products and the boxes that contain them. By this way the system can easily trace all products included in a well-defined box. Subsequently, the boxes are arranged on pallets tagged with UHF RFID tags and moved to the outgoing warehouse, equipped with a UHF RFID gate able to automatically detect this transfer and store the associated information in the information system of the company. The combined use of RFID and EPC technologies substantially improves these activities, removing efficiency problems, due to the manual execution of the control operations described.

Finally, the use of an item-level tracing system based on the EPCglobal standard optimizes the main activities related to the return flow management process. For example, it enables the automatic identification and tracking of all products returned from a retailer. Furthermore, by using a complete traceability system, the producer company can exactly know which other products were sold to the same retailer, substantially improving the recall procedure of noncompliant products.

3.3. Overview of the Pilot Project

In order to better clarify the reengineered model previously described, a graphical summary of the pilot project implemented in the Jentu company is presented in this section. In particular, Figure 3 and Table 1 summarize the main RF devices introduced in both greenhouses and transformation factory.

Table 1

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