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To help stem potential losses
U.S. berry company implements RFID

The firm is deploying an Intelleflex RFID system after piloting the technology at a packing plant in Mexico, as well as at distribution centers in the United States. Following a six-week pilot of RFID temperature sensor tags to track blackberries from Mexican farms through its packing plant in Los Reyes, Mexico, and on to its U.S. distribution centers, an American berry company is now deploying the solution throughout all of its facilities. That deployment, provided by Santa Clara, Ca., visibility solutions company Intelleflex, uses software from Proware Services (a division of Florida-based RFID technology firm Franwell). Intelleflex reports that it will now equip all of the berry company's four Mexican packinghouses and three U.S. DCs with RFID technology, and provide temperature-tracking tags to more than 1,000 growers. This rollout is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

The berry company, which has declined to be interviewed or named for this article, conducted a six-week pilot this past spring, in an effort to improve the quality of product arriving at stores, as well as reduce shrinkage resulting from fruit spoilage. The pilot, conducted on blackberries only (though the full deployment will include multiple berry varieties), allowed the company to track the temperatures within berry-filled containers loaded on pallets from the time the fruit was harvested until it was delivered to the DCs. Based on the results, says Peter Mehring, Intelleflex's CEO, the firm could expect to realize a return on investment within one harvest season (which typically lasts six months). The money-saving benefits include enabling staff members to know when berry temperatures have risen too high, and either to address those high temperatures in real time (such as in the precooling room—a forced-air refrigeration system—at the packing facility), or to route crates according to the temperatures to which the fruit had been exposed and, consequently, according to its remaining shelf life. In so doing, the berry grower will be able to reduce the likelihood that it would need to discard fruit before it could be sold or distributed.

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Publication date: 12/1/2011


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