Verigo sensor tracks produce shelf life in transit
Verigo, has launched a new sensor called Pod Quality, designed to be attached to pallets of produce to log temperature. However, Verigo said it is intended as more than a simple temperature logger. It’s part of a system the company calls a “quality analysis platform,” which consists of hardware and software specifically designed to describe fresh produce’s actual remaining shelf life in real-time during storage and transit.
Verigo said the key to the new Pod Quality monitoring device is the Quality Analysis engine it contains which translates raw sensor data into a single, actionable metric called product life. This metric results from the analysis of a number of variables — commodity type, initial quality and product temperature — and translates them to display the number of days of actual remaining shelf-life of that product.
Verigo used over 30 years of research from the USDA and studies with growers such as Driscolls and Berry World to develop a growing library of unique “product life profiles,” which characterize the degradation characteristics of a particular commodity, from asparagus to zucchini.
“This concept [smart shelf life management] has been around for a long time, but it has never actually been developed and released as a usable product,” said Adam Kinsey, founder and president of Verigo. “Technology has finally made it simple and feasible to monitor from farm to retail on the pallet level. It’s not a matter of if, but when — we’re already seeing these inevitable technology shifts occur in areas like e-commerce and home delivery, and the cold chain is no different.”
Verigo said while it is standard practice to include a temperature monitor to record the ambient conditions during long haul transport, in practice the devices are often ignored, and the data is often not checked. Further, when it is reviewed, quality personnel must comb through pages of raw data that only contain the history of that single transport leg.
“When food enters a transportation arena, it basically becomes invisible. Nobody knows where it is. Nobody knows what conditions it’s being shipped under,” said John Ryan, the former administrator of the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture’s Quality Assurance Division.
Fluctuations of even a few degrees in transit completely nullify the benefits of treatments like modified atmospheres and result in irreversible damage. Adverse exposures during other stages, such as packaging, processing and handling, often add up to cause large differences in core product temperatures from pallet to pallet further down the line.
A Pod Quality device can be wirelessly configured with the profile of the specific commodity that it will monitor. A manager can then adjust the initial product life based on the known quality of a particular pallet or load. Finally, the device is activated and placed next to the product in the pallet.
From that point on, the now “smart” pallet will record, analyze and continuously communicate temperature and remaining Product Life to any phone or tablet within approximately 15 meters. At any point in the chain, staff can use the Verigo mobile app to view the quality and history of the products onscreen, without having to install any infrastructure of antennas, readers or gateways. As long as the phones and tablets used by staff have an internet connection, all data is automatically sent to the Verigo Cloud platform and is visible to management anywhere in the world.