Smart Crates.

Position:PACKAGING Spotlight

Packaging in Africa just got a lot smarter thanks to Silafrica, the Kenya-based packaging company, and Smart Crates, which integrates Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC) tags for real-time data collection and more efficient processing.

Silafrica, a leading packaging company in Africa that supplies plastic packaging throughout East Africa, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania, is set to be the first African company to employ the Smart Crate technology. Designed especially for produce, Smart Crates are scheduled to be in production within six months.

The RFID and NFC tag technologies provide some important logistical advantages previously unavailable to the produce industry. A crate equipped with RFID can be tracked throughout its entire journey by scanning at routine checkpoints. NFC tags collect and store data, which can be quickly accessed by simply tapping a smartphone against the tag. The vented crates also offer improved air flow, keeping produce fresher during transit from farm to market.

Using smart crate RFID and NFC tag technologies also makes managing the distribution of produce more streamlined and predictable. Now, companies like Twiga Foods, who sources crops from more than 8,000 farms, can receive real-time data and geolocation information about their products at critical points along the supply chain.

AN AGRICULTURAL GAME-CHANGER

Employing cloud integration data technology, these new advancements revolutionize the time-critical nature of agriculture, logistics and supply chains for perishables. In the past, data communication between the farm and the first tier of distribution was seriously lacking, and because crop size for shipment and distribution varies widely, matching the number of trucks needed to the amount of produce ready for market was a matter of guesswork. Deploying too many trucks proved to be a waste of resources, while too few trucks meant a delay in produce distribution, which could compromise freshness and product safety. In the future, crates outfitted with RFID and NFC technologies will immediately indicate the...

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