Technology is bringing some pretty amazing problem solving solutions to market, including the advent of monitoring labels commonly associated with climate-sensitive products that must be kept at a certain temperature to maintain a product’s integrity. Below learn how monitoring labels can be used to measure and control temperature to improve cold chain management for applications like food and pharmaceuticals.
What are Monitoring Labels? Monitoring labels, also referred to as temperature labels, have built-in temperature monitors that are usually managed by a couple small, heat-sensitive indicators sealed into heat-resistant and transparent windows. The objective is to manage the temperature and time of perishable items during the distribution and storage aspects of the supply chain process. This is a critical element for industries that deal in perishable products like vaccines, biologics, pharmaceuticals and food. Although many companies are in the process of manufacturing this technology and have some slight differences in terms of how they function or read temperatures, generally they work in a similar fashion to track and monitor temperatures around the packaging. These labels are typically no larger than, say, the size of a sugar packet and are flat despite often having an integrated USB connection point or some type of tracking device embedded in the label. When the temperature drops below a safe level, the label can trigger some type of alarm, including changing color or working with live alarm-based logging technology tied to radio frequency tagging. The technology allows the user to gain information about the package’s history as it relates to temperature and time, including a range of data elements and statistics. The labels that have a USB port integrated helps users go without the need for a reading device and software. These label applications are set to become so sophisticated that consumers, inspectors, and manufacturing employees can inspect the safety of these items by using their mobile phones to read the tag and compliant chip embedded inside the label. As the technology further develops, some companies have moved beyond non-reversible monitoring capability, which means that the label can only be used once. Reversible temperature labels have also emerged, which can be used multiple times for enhanced application and cost savings. Both types of labels have been tested in harsh environments and have been found to withstand environments where they could come in contact with hot water, steam, oil, gasoline or solvents.
Here is a summary of the main points related to monitoring labels:
- These labels allow the time and temperature history to be traced on perishable items like food, pharmaceuticals, vaccines and biologics.
- There are different types of technology that can be integrated into this compact labels, including USB ports as well as chips or tagging data to use with a reader and proprietary software.
- There are non-reversible labels that can only be used once and reversible labels that can be used multiple times.