Data-visibility vendor Intelleflex has introduced a new GPS-enabled RFID reader and cloud database to monitor the temperature of medication and food throughout the supply chain.
Launched on April 3, the CMR-6100 cellular multiprotocol reader and Zest Data Services cloud platform enables manufacturers and health care providers to safeguard food and pharmaceutical items from spoilage and send temperature data to the company's cloud platform for analysis.
"By monitoring the temperature of the products throughout distributionwithout opening or unpacking the containerwe can help record actual time out of refrigeration or proper cooling, ensuring the efficacy and quality of product through to the last mile," Peter Mehring, president and CEO of Intelleflex, told eWEEK in an email.
The Zest platform allows supply chain vendors to avoid the use of middleware or on-site edge servers, Intelleflex reported.
A small application on the RFID device reads and tags the information, then sends it to the Zest cloud database through a secure connection.
By monitoring the temperature in food, RFID can help prevent disease outbreak, according to the first quarter 2011 report "RFID-enabled Food Safety and Traceability Systems" by ABI Research.
The cellular reader monitors the temperature of pharmaceuticals and food as they progress through their supply chain, including sitting on the tarmac of an airport, Kevin Payne, senior director of marketing for Intelleflex, told eWEEK.
For example, protein-based vaccines need to be shipped at 2 to 8 degrees Centigrade to remain effective, according to Payne, who noted that these figures vary from product to product.
"They have a controlled range," said Payne. "If it goes [outside] that band, it risks the efficacy of the productit could make it potentially dangerous for use."
Payne noted an example of patients given H1N1 flu vaccines that were not stored at the right temperature. If doctors learn that vials were shipped or stored improperly, they will consider the vials ineffective and reject them.
The RFID readers perform self-analysis and work with Proware's FreshAware application to manage temperature data and storage conditions, as well as the supplier and product performance, said Mehring.
The readers connect with Intelleflex's TMT-8500 temperature-monitoring tags to help manufacturers, couriers, third-party logistics providers and health care providers make sure the pharmaceuticals are handled properly as they travel through a cold supply chain, said Mehring.
"In pharmaceuticals, we can see what's in the box effectively and ascertain the core temperature in the box as opposed to the ambient temperature," said Payne.
Often supply chains for food or medication lack network connectivity throughout an entire supply chain, but Intelleflex aims to bridge this gap with its transmitter.
"The Intelleflex CMR-6100 cellular reader enables remote, unattended, secure operation, installation at locations where network access is not available or not allowed, and access to data from locations where data capture was not previously possible," said Mehring.
An internal micro controller allows the monitoring tag to capture temperature and waypoint data and block info from elsewhere, he said.
"The data store is always cleared by the micro controller when starting the log to ensure no old data corrupts the new records," said Mehring.
Intelleflex's current readers measure only the temperature of food and pharmaceutical products, but the company hopes to add indicators for humidity, shock and vibration, said Payne.
The most important indicator is temperature, however, since some medications can't be outside a refrigerator for more than a half hour, Payne explained.
In addition to pharmaceutical items, the RFID readers could be used to locate patients in a hospital, according to Payne, who noted that hospitals have a problem with patients disappearing or leaving the hospital without approval. The readers can also be used to match mothers with infants.
More than 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste each year due to contamination or safety issues, according to the U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization. The RFID readers can improve the quality and safety of fresh, frozen and packaged foods while reducing waste and delivering track-and-trace records in the event of recalls.
On Jan. 4, 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act, which called for the FDA to shift its focus regarding food traceability to guard against food contamination.