Keystone Distribution UK has become one of the first food distribution companies in the UK to implement a pioneering food temperature technology. The company is using PakSense temperature monitoring labels that measure the temperature of the food during distribution, rather than the temperature of the trailer.
The PakSense temperature label is a small digital indicator. Information is nested in the label and can be downloaded and analysed. Each label is pre programmed by PakSense to record temperatures within a set range and can be customised for either chilled or frozen products.
The labels, which are less than a third of the price of traditional data loggers, have a light emitting diode LED which quickly tells you when a critical safety risk point is reached. The LED is a two way traffic light system. A green light shows the product was always within the acceptable temperature range from the distribution centre to the restaurant whereas amber shows that the product drifted outside the acceptable range.
"The aim is to improve the way Keystone monitors product temperatures between loading and restaurant delivery," says Janet Faichen, Quality Director at Keystone. "Analysing the data means that we can have complete confidence in the decisions we make in respect of both food quality and safety."
Keystone looked at a variety of temperature monitoring options. They considered equipping the vehicles with a probing system, which required drivers to place the probes within product cases, in close proximity to the food products before recording the data. But this was not practical and Keystone found that the probes were not robust enough to withstand the rigours of the supply chain. In the spring of 2008, Keystone tried data loggers, which are palm sized temperature recording units. Each unit costs around £30, which meant that the costs could add up if the units were not reliably returned.
Temperature monitoring labels were tested from September to December 2008 at Keystone’s Heywood Distribution Centre and proved to be the solution. Keystone has since invested £10,000 in the technology.
"The PakSense labels not only give us complete management control because we can make sure that they are put in with the product as part of the picking process in the warehouse, but also they are the most economically viable option," says Janet.
"The labels are like a ‘belt and braces’ combination that helps keep our supply chain integrity in place. They help us guarantee that the right temperatures are being maintained throughout the delivery process," she says.
When it comes to the cold storage of food, there’s little room for error. No one can afford to make a mistake in the food supply chain. For an industry that prides itself on quality, safety, visibility and traceability, temperature monitoring labels are the way forward. These intelligent stickers are the key to ensuring complete customer confidence.