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  • 17 May 2022

Toppan develops temperature-logging label

Toppan has developed a thin, card-sized temperature logger label that enables the temperature to be measured and recorded at regular intervals and data to be sent to a database via wireless networks

Toppan has developed a thin, card-sized temperature logger label that enables the temperature to be measured and recorded at regular intervals and data to be sent to a database via wireless networks. Toppan plans to supply it at less than one-tenth of the cost of existing temperature logger devices.

When attached to freight, Toppan’s temperature logger label automatically records the surface temperature at an interval set by the shipper using UHF or NFC. Log data (record of date, time, temperature) from shipment to the final destination or a given point on the route, which is read using a dedicated app, and traceability data from the reading location are sent to a cloud-based management system to facilitate chronological tracking and management of temperature changes during transportation.

Toppan’s temperature logger label is equipped with a single-use battery and adopts a simple structure without a terminal for data downloading or a display. Toppan, therefore, plans to supply it at less than one-tenth of the cost of existing temperature logger devices.

The label was used to measure and record the surface temperature of container boxes during a pilot test conducted between October 2021 and March 2022, which involved transporting Japanese sake from major breweries in Japan to cold storage facilities in China. Sales of the temperature logger label are scheduled to be launched in June this year.

In contrast to general logistics, long-distance transportation of food requires strict temperature management. Fresh products such as meat, fish, and vegetables, as well as chilled items such as dairy products and prepared foods, need to be transported at specific temperatures set for each product to maintain freshness and prevent quality deterioration.

Temperature logger devices that measure and record the temperature at fixed intervals are widely available as tools to manage the temperature during transportation. Prices range from tens to hundreds of dollars per unit. This has led to increased demand for low-cost temperature loggers suitable for one-way use that do not need to be recovered in scenarios requiring temperature management over long distances, such as international shipping.

The structure features an IC chip with a temperature sensor and a single-use battery, and a smartphone app is used to adjust settings. As a result, the price is less than one-tenth that of existing temperature logger devices that include a control panel and assume battery replacement. This enables the label to be used in new ways, such as recording individual temperature changes of every container and one-way usage in which labels are not recovered after shipment is complete.

The interval for temperature measurement can be selected from 22 options, ranging from once a second to once every 60 minutes. If the interval is set at 60 minutes, the history of temperature changes over six months can be recorded. A function to set a timer for the start of measurement helps to alleviate the human workload by reducing time spent performing tasks inside cold storage facilities.

The system is equipped with a series of features essential for temperature management during long-distance transportation, including an authentication function that prevents unauthorized access to temperature logger labels and a traceability function for managing the status of items being shipped.

‘This solution dramatically reduces the cost of managing and visualizing temperature during long-haul transportation,’ said Takamitsu Nakabayashi, senior R&D manager in Toppan’s security business. ‘The lower price of individual temperature logger labels means that the number used can be increased to facilitate more detailed and accurate measurement. The solution is also easy to introduce because labels can be read with smartphones, expanding the scope of quality control to a wider array of settings. Going forward, we will also combine it with our existing ID authentication platform to deliver an end-to-end service for optimizing the entire supply chain, including elements such as product verification, traceability, and enhancement of customer touchpoints.’

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