Innovation That Matters

Embedded temperature sensors keep fruit fresh in transit


A Swiss research institute has created replica fruits with embedded temperature sensors that send real-time monitoring data to suppliers and exporters.

Switzerland’s Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) is currently testing a new temperature sensor for fruit being shipped from producer to consumer. With much of the food consumed around the world shipped hundreds of thousands of miles from its place of production, cooling is an essential part of the cargo shipping process. Should anything go wrong during the journey, entire containers of fruit could end up wasted if state food agencies order the destruction of the goods.

The new sensors are contained within replica pieces of fruit – currently available in mango, banana, apple or orange form. Researchers x-rayed each type of fruit and simulated its composition with a mix of polystyrene, water and carbohydrates. The mixture was then printed with a 3D printer to create the copy containing the smart sensor. Now, while in transit, the replica sits directly with the fruit, allowing suppliers and exporters to much more closely monitor temperature data throughout the entire journey.

Other recent innovations in delivery processes range in size from using blockchain to track the movement of international, trans-Atlantic cargo to making sample size products available on-demand within minutes. How else could shipping and delivery be smartened up through technology?



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