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    RFID Allows Operators to Keep Tabs on Products to Ensure Integrity

  • Industry News September 24, 2005
    When most people think of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), they think of EZ Pass or Speedpass, which let motorists zip through toll booths without fumbling for cash, or maybe even the MasterCard PayPass, which is now being used at some gas stations to provide patrons with an easier payment option. These types of RFID technology have supposedly been on the cusp of becoming mainstream for years, but there’s another application of the technology that is quietly making inroads behind the scenes.

    RFID is rapidly gaining ground in the manufacturing and distributing world, where the technology is being used to track inventory through the placement of RFID tags on boxes and pallets. The tags can be programmed with information about shipment quantity and can even be used to ensure product integrity by keeping tabs on temperature changes from the dock to the final destination.

    Michael Beedles, CEO of Fibergrations, a leading provider of supply chain and RFID execution solutions, spoke about how this can benefit foodservice operators in a presentation at the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers show entitled “On Track with RFID.”

    Beedles explained that RFID can help to drastically reduce the risk of spoiled product by giving operators the ability to know about all temperature changes endured by the product before it enters their restaurant. RFID transmitters are programmed with information then used to track changes, which are captured by readers and used to develop comprehensive reports to ensure quality.

    Companies like McDonald’s are already taking advantage of RFID to track the beef used in their restaurants. The technology can be used to ensure the integrity of the meat by providing end buyers with information about the cattle from birth to slaughter to delivery of product at the final destination.

    “It’s like DNA for the case,” Beedles says.

    Right now such tracking is more of an added benefit for operators, but Beedles insists that FDA mandates are soon to come. In fact, mass rollouts can be expected in the next two years, he says.

    Along with mandates, operators can expect to see increases in distribution costs as both manufacturers and distributors adopt RFID and the infrastructure it demands. He stresses that early adoption and banding together with consortiums like NAFEM can help lower the cost of conversion.