Project: Proactive RFID and wireless-based technologies for cold-chain management

GOAL AND BACKGROUND_x000D_ The use of Radio Frequency Identification - RFID technology for cold-chain traceability in perishable and frozen products in the supply chain is being approached by several organizations, COly in the USA. Until now, focus is based on collecting temperature data of merchandise on RFID tags placed on pallet or case level and being able to read the stored data upon reception of the merchandise to assure that storage and transportation have not spoiled the goods. This approach targets quality control and liability issues, offering answers like: "there has been damage to the goods, and the player across the supply chain responsible for this damage is identified". Nevertheless, this approach does not target prevention._x000D_ _x000D_ The Proactive Cold Chain project aims a "proactive" approach to cold-chain traceability. Based on RFID technology and GPRS/UMTS wireless communications, potential damage can be detected before it occurs, and actions can be taken to avoid spoiling of goods at any node along the supply chain. The loss of a trailer full of goods due to a break in the cold chain will usually cost over 50,000 Euros. The loss of pharmaceutical goods may be valued in millions. The RFID Reader is programmed to poll temperature and identification information from the RFID tags placed on pallets or cases at a certain interval, say every 10 minutes. The Reader is connected to the Internet using wireless GPRS / UMTS communications, sending temperature, identification, and GPS position information to the Communication Server. Information is processed at the Communication Server and alarms are triggered if abnormal values are detected. These alarms are made available to all players involved in the supply chain using multiple mechanisms (SMS, e-mail, XML interface with legacy systems, Web Services)._x000D_ _x000D_ TECHNICAL AND MARKET APPLICATION_x000D_ This revolutionary concept targets the control of the cold-chain across the entire supply chain, from the producer to the supermarket shelf. Goods will be continuously monitored at every node of the supply chain, during transportation and during temporary storage at depots, until they are finally delivered at the supermarket. RFID tags with integrated temperature sensors attached to goods by the producer combined with GPRS/UMTS communication and GPS enabled RFID readers located at depots, trucks, and supermarkets, will offer continuous identification, temperature and position information to all players across the supply chain, regardless of where the goods are at a given point in time (see graphical representation of the proposed solution in Annex 1). Wherever a pallet of goods is across the entire supply chain, it will always be saying what it is, where it is, and its temperature conditions, to all parties involved. _x000D_ _x000D_ The greater number of players in the supply chain increases the complexity of the RFID systems and means that interoperability becomes a key factor. In order to assure interoperability among the different players, as well as post-project success, an important aspect of the project is the development of a new set of standards in product coding, that implements not only identification information currently found in printed barcodes (pallet SSCC, product GS1-13/128 code [formerly EAN 13/128]), but electronically obtained information as well. Though the scope of the current project is limited to temperature and GPS position, other variables such as humidity, horizontal alignment, and acceleration will be addressed in these standards. This new set of standards will be defined and endorsed by P AECOC-GS1 (formerly EAN), a global organization leading the drive to create common standards and contributing to the broad scale adoption of RFID standards for the supply chain management._x000D_ _x000D_ In order to validate information received from the RFID tags, information on temperature and position will be obtained from alternative sources across the supply chain, and information fusion technology will be applied to compare and complement values obtained from the different sources. All trucks involved in the pilot testing will be previously equipped with GPS and standard air-temperature sensors. All pallets delivered to supermarkets will be manually probed upon reception to record the delivery temperature. Specific events, as opening of the truck doors will be recorded. _x000D_ _x000D_ The work will be carried out by a LEADING AND COMPETITIVE CONSORTIUM consisting of six Ps from Spain and Germany, including four R&D-performing SMEs (EasyTech, Datatronics, Inmark and scemtec), a research institution (Fraunhofer) and a standardisation organisation (AECOC-GS1). This industry-driven consortium has the necessary expertise and understanding of the Eurostars Programme requirements and is therefore well positioned to cover all aspects of the R&D activities be undertaken and to ensure the potential market impact of the Proactive Cold Chain project. (See detailed description in 2.4.1)

Acronym Proactive Cold Chain (Reference Number: 4315)
Duration 01/04/2008 - 01/04/2010
Project Topic The Proactive Cold Chain project aims at the development of a proactive RFID system for enhanced cold chain traceability. Based on RFID technology and GPRS/UMTS wireless communications, potential damage can be detected before it occurs, and actions can be taken to avoid spoiling of goods.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Fraunhofer IPM developed with the project P Scemtec an active sensor transponder for logging the temperature in truck environment. Additionally, a semi-active sensor tags was developed._x000D_The functionality of the different tags were succesfull tested in field tests in Spain and Germany in cooperation with Montfrisa, a logistic operator near Madrid and Kaltenbach Fleischvertrieb GmbH, a butcher company near Freiburg.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 1

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
6 Asociación Española de Codificación Comercial Partner Spain
6 scemtec Transponder Technology GmbH Partner Germany
6 EASYTECH S.L. Coordinator Spain
6 DATATRONICS S.A. Partner Spain
6 Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Partner Germany