Temperatures below 32° F (0° C) can impact products as diverse as fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and meat, flowers, agricultural products, ink, chemicals, solvents, paint, medical samples, vaccines, food home delivery and certain types of mail or freight.
Now, every packaging printer has the capability to print affordable, scalable, cold-chain sensors, starting with freeze alert indicators. Chromatic Technologies Inc. (CTI) has invented BlindSpotz™, a new patent-pending freeze-warning technology that can be printed directly on a package. If the temperature of the package drops at or below 32° F (0° C) a colored symbol appears on the exterior of the package to quickly notify the supply chain that product has been damaged.
A partnership of American Thermal Instruments (ATI) and Chromatic Technologies Inc. (CTI) introduces freeze-warning technology that can be printed economically on individual packages to help protect the brand and consumer of medical supplies and foods, while dramatically saving money by lowering product waste. CTI will handle the technical support for all on-package printing while ATI will manage the customer implementation of cold-chain monitoring and data in support of those opportunities.
The cold-chain market is expected to grow to US$293 billion dollars by 2023, a 54% increase over 2017. This growth can be attributed to the international trade of perishable foods, technological advancements in refrigerated storage & transport, government support for the infrastructural development of the cold-chain industry and increase in consumer demand for perishable foods. Also, expansion of food retail chains by multinationals will enhance international trade and impact the growth of the cold-chain market.
The current cold-chain technology to record temperatures between 4°C (39° F) and -4° C (25° F) costs around $3 per device. CTI’s BlindSpotz™ freeze spot technology costs pennies per package. The CTI capability embeds the technology into an ink system that can be incorporated into the existing printing process for packaging. Now billions of packages of lettuce, strawberries, flowers, paint and vaccines can be individually inspected for quality and safety.
Patrick Edson, CTI chief marketing officer, explains that “Every packaging company in the world that supports food, medical and industrial clients just got access to a new pipeline of innovation to help their clients improve quality, safety and create a better consumer experience. It just requires one print station and the technology can be implemented.”
Randall Lane, ATI chief strategy officer, adds, “We’ve been challenged by the pharmaceutical industry to create a simple, low-cost freeze indicator at the vial-level that is intuitive to a medical worker and offers the option to make it easy to record data of temperature damage, drug type and location. BlindSpotz™ technology does all of this.
“The second big challenge is the reduction in food waste,” according to Lane. Right now, if a truck delivering $50,000 in fresh produce is measured to be at 28° F during transportation, a customer’s internal policies will dictate if the shipment is rejected or accepted. With the BlindSpotz™ freeze indicator on individual packages or cases, the truck can be inspected and sorted.
“In this shipment for example, the technology may reveal that 30% of the truck’s packages are at risk, but the balance is fine. BlindSpotz™ prevents $15,000 in bad product from reaching the customer, but also saves $35,000 in good inventory being returned, dramatically cutting costs of product waste, out-of-stocks and logistics."
Extensive government regulations from the US FDA and the USDA require cold-chain monitoring on any food and drug product affected by temperature. The ability to now record data and inspect at the package level is an economical, dramatic improvement in monitoring and reporting.
BlindSpotz™ is available in UV and Water-based Flexo, Water-based Gravure, Wet Offset, UV-Wet Offset ink formulas, as well as finished devices. Additional technology for devices and on-pack printing is available to alert in event of thawing, warming outside of refrigeration specifications, high-heat damage, tampering and verification of high-pressure pasteurization.
More info: www.americanthermal.com, www.ctiinks.com