Case in Point: Starbucks Coffee Co.
Coffee King Ensures Freshness Of Perishables
Starbucks Coffee Co., the world-class operator of upscale coffee shops, has been expanding its perishable assortments. The menu now includes more yogurts, salads, sandwiches, and the like. Distributors arrive in the middle of the night to remove the expired goods and replace them with fresh product.
To insure that the highest quality standards of freshness are being met, Seattle-based Starbucks has installed a special RFID system in all of its delivery trucks.
"Each distributor has a monitor installed inside the truck," explains Elizabeth Darragh, director of food strategic marketing of Sensitech Inc., Beverly, MA. Sensitech is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carrier Corp., which is a business unit of United Technologies Corp.
"Every night we get a download when the truck comes back to the yard to unload the expired goods. We evaluate if this particular delivery route has been in spec according to Starbucks," says Darragh. "We make monthly reports to Starbucks as well as making weekly reports to the distributor. They have asked us to work closely with their suppliers so that everybody is on the same page."
Starbucks is using Sensitech's RF-enabled application called Cold Stream CL (Closed Loop) designed to provide complete visibility into a close loop delivery process to ensure food safety, improve shelf life, and increase the quality of perishables.
Sensitech provides cold chain visibility solutions designed to protect customers' products and drive measurable process improvement within their global supply chains through the application of asset tracking and analysis. Cold chain visibility solutions mean having the right product in the right place, at the time, in the right condition. It is the integration of monitoring, tracking and tracing, with an emphasis on driving measurable process improvement from the information.
The application monitors temperatures throughout the entire delivery process: during staging, transit, receiving, and storage. It is supported by wireless RF-enabled monitors mounted inside refrigerated delivery vehicles associated with a pre-determined route. The monitors record temperatures throughout the entire route, including every intermediate stop, and download the data automatically once the vehicle returns to its originating depot.
"At Starbucks, delivering a premier customer experience is our mission," said Dr. Sid Jhaveri, Director of Global Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs of Starbucks at the annual Institute of Food Technologists meeting.
"As we continue to add fresh food offerings to our portfolio of products, managing the cold chain has become a critical factor in our quality management program. [The system] has improved our visibility into our supply chain. We are now able to monitor our processes to ensure optimal efficiencies and continuous improvement, all while reducing the costs associated with gathering and reporting the data." —J.K.
Case in Point: Albertson's LLC
Retailer Puts Focus on Freshness
In recent years, supermarket chains across the country have been stocking more fresh foods as consumer interest has increased. To ensure freshness, Albertson's LLC has always been vigilant with monitoring the temperature on all inbound produce, fresh meat and seafood shipments to its distribution centers.
"Providing our customers safe, high quality products is our highest priority. We have always monitored the temperatures of our perishable products during shipping," says Dave Dean, group vice president of procurement for the Boise, ID-based chain. "But we found that traditional temperature monitoring devices were bulky and expensive."
So the company turned to the PakSense TXi Smart Label provided by Pak Sense Inc., also based in Boise. The labels track the temperature of a perishable product's environment during distribution and enable quality assurance personnel to make better quality and safety decisions.
A flat, 2-in. x 2-in. disk, PakSense labels are sealed in food-grade packaging. Lights on the sensor alert quality assurance personnel if temperature specs have been breached and all data collected by the label can be downloaded and graphed. This enables Albertson's to pinpoint when and for how long temperature excursions occurred. The labels are intended for one-time use.
"We are embracing new technology so we can be at the forefront of food quality and safety," says Dean. "We can sample temperatures through a trailer, not just on the top. We view this as another tool to ensure our customers receive the freshest products available." —J.K.