Chromatic Technologies (CTI) has invented BlindSpotz, a patent pending freeze warning technology that can be printed directly on a package.
If the temperature of the package drops at or below 32 degrees F (zero degrees C), a colored symbol appears on the exterior of the package to quickly notify the supply chain that product has been damaged. Temperatures at or below this level can impact products from fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and meat, to flowers, agricultural products, ink, chemicals, solvents, paint, medical samples, vaccines, food home delivery and certain types of mail or freight. CTI identified extensive government regulations from the Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture as requiring cold chain monitoring on any food and drug product affected by temperature.
A partnership between CTI and American Thermal Instruments has been formed to bring this technology to market, printed on individual packages to help protect the brand and consumer of medical supplies and foods while 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 CTI capability embeds the technology into an ink system that can be incorporated into the existing printing process for packaging. BlindSpotz is available in UV and water-based flexo, water-based gravure, wet offset and 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.
The cold chain market is expected to grow to US$293 billion dollars by 2023, a 54 percent increase over 2017. This growth can be attributed to the international trade of perishable foods, technological advancements in refrigerated storage and transport, government support for the infrastructural development of the cold chain industry, and an 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.
Patrick Edson, CTI chief marketing officer, explained: ‘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, added: ‘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.’
Lane also identified food waste as a further challenge. Right now, if a truck delivering US$50,000 in fresh produce is measured to be at 28 degrees 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.
Lane noted: ‘In this shipment for example, the technology may reveal that 30 percent of the truck’s packages are at risk, but the balance is fine. BlindSpotz prevents US$15,000 in bad product from reaching the customer, but also saves US$35,000 in good inventory being returned, dramatically cutting costs of product waste, out-of-stocks and logistics.’