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How RFID Labels & Connected Tech Make a Recipe for Cold Chain Success

TOPICS: Asset Tracking

Welcome back to the Supply Chain Kitchen!

Here, we chat with the experts about what’s fresh and hot in supply chain data capture and connected technologies. In this episode, I’m excited to host Zebra RFID Solutions Engagement Executive, Monte Lucas.

Monte brings more than 25 years of experience focused almost exclusively on RFID (radio frequency identification) solutions. He champions Zebra’s full range of RFID-related products, solutions, and services across all industry verticals in Canada, where he’s seen a lot of growth in supply chain data capture, intelligence, and automation.

In an information-packed 22 minutes, we cover a lot of ground, including:

  • How Zebra’s electronic temperature sensors and RFID labels can drive continuous visibility for a more confident cold chain
  • How integration experts connect disparate technologies to create comprehensive solutions that support an actionable supply chain
  • A sneak peek into what’s coming soon from Zebra Technologies

Watch the episode to learn what makes Monte a certifiable #SupplyChainGeek—and to get a clearer understanding of the visibility you can achieve when you get the right help and solutions to automate data collection and put the information and insights to work. Short on time? Just check out the notes now and come back for the video later.

RFID & Sensors Track and Trace Through the Cold Chain

Monte points to the updated Food Safety Modernization Act’s Section 204 (FSMA 204) as a catalyst for producers, processors and manufacturers, transportation and logistics providers, retailers, and quick-serve restaurants to take a close look at their supply chains. FSMA 204 compliance requirements go into effect January 6, 2025, so supply chain stakeholders face deadlines to meet food traceability standards.

But supply chain visibility is about a lot more than food safety and compliance requirements. Consumers are asking more questions than ever about production practices, healthfulness, and purity. The ability to trace products—and their constituent ingredients—all the way back to the individual farm fields where they grew? That allows brands to deliver a new level of transparency that bolsters consumer trust and brand loyalty.

And cold chain innovations impact more than perishable food. Pharmaceuticals, vaccines and biologic drugs, and lab or diagnostic products can all be temperature-sensitive and depend on proper storage and transport to protect efficacy and safety.

A system that uses software to connect technologies like RFID tags and labels, electronic sensors, data loggers, Bluetooth sensors—and of course barcode labels—builds a more complete picture of the storage and transportation conditions products endure. Consider the data that can be captured by these tools and technologies in a single product’s journey to its end user:

  • RFID tags and labels – serialization enables users to associate item, case, pallet, and lot to provide item-level visibility
  • Active RFIDbattery-powered tags can be used to allow a tagged product to “announce” its presence, improving awareness and first-expiry/first-out inventory management
  • Electronic temperature sensors – capturing and logging temperature data provides more complete visibility into storage and transport conditions
  • Bluetooth technology – data can be automatically collected on an intermittent basis and integrated into data management and analytics systems
  • Asset management software solutions – provide the technology-to-human interface that’s needed to turn data into actionable insights
  • Movement sensor technologies – overhead monitoring of RFID-tagged products delivers insights into product movements to manage labor demands and increase awareness of shrink risk

And now, because industry leaders have embraced standards like GS1, data interoperability is becoming a baseline expectation. That means enterprises that choose to embrace cold chain technologies don’t have to reinvent systems for their own operations. Now, it’s just a question of choosing a team of integration experts that works closely with multiple leading technology partners…and who asks the right questions from the start.

And as industry leaders continue to reap the benefits and prove out the solutions ahead of the pack, more and more companies will reap the business value of track-and-trace technologies, including:

  • Reduced waste
  • Improved efficiency
  • Enhanced quality
  • Improved product safety
  • Lower overall costs
  • 24/7, real-time, item-level awareness of product conditions
  • Control over liability
  • Faster, more complete audits
  • Reduced labor demands
  • Less reshipping of product
  • Better employee experience
  • Customer peace of mind

What’s Coming from Zebra in RFID, IoT, and Cold Chain

Zebra’s multiple acquisitions over the past several years demonstrate investments in technologies that support cold chain customer needs like digital temperature tracking and reporting, automated data collection and reporting, and easy integration into inventory management systems and enterprise resource planning software.

Zebra is laser-focused on making it even easier for users of its device-level solutions to integrate, access, and use the data they capture to drive operational and business improvements. Specifically, Monte highlights a new Zebra-certified ServiceNow® interface that retrieves and serves up item-level supply chain data on demand—and it can integrate with a company’s ERP solution.

As Monte puts it, industrial sectors that have applied a lot of technology, but that haven’t connected or integrated the data their technologies deliver, are seriously ready for a comprehensive data management solution to make sense of it all.

Innovations in data capture, collection, integration, and analysis truly are changing the way business is done. Less waste, greater productivity and efficiency, and lower overall costs become possible with accurate, comprehensive visibility and connected data.

RFID and technology are everywhere. They permeate our lives now. — Monte Lucas, RFID Solutions Engagement Executive, Zebra Technologies

RFID technology is proving itself every day in the digital transformation of businesses in virtually every industry, from agriculture to pharmaceuticals. Learn more about how RFID supports virtually every link in today’s supply chain when you download our free eBook. Click here or below to get your copy today.