Profitable Stonefruit Research

Monitoring the cool chain

Research focus:
  • Using loggers to improve fruit quality and shelf life
  • Accessing temperature data in 'real time' to make decisions or change strategies
  • Different types of temperature monitoring technologies
  • Encouraging growers and exporters to monitor their cool-chains
  • Trialling a new dashboard that is user friendly and makes data interpretation easier
On this page:

Data Loggers

- Temperature Monitoring Technologies

- Air freight

- Sea freight


- Case studies 2020 - Export companies: Montague's Rowan Little, Chief Innovation Officer;  Allan Anderson - ANDFresh, Managing Director

- Webinar 2021 - Benefits of using real time data loggers

- Webinar 2020 - using real-time data loggers and dashboards

Introduction to the research

Remote data loggers for fruit being exported

There are many types of temperature data loggers available to industry for remote monitoring of fruit along the export chain. Each type of temperature logger has its own merits ranging from:

  • ease of use,
  • cost,
  • accuracy,
  • reliability,
  • single use or reusable,
  • SMS/email notifications, and
  • airline approved.

Many exporters currently use USB temperature loggers which are generally discarded, or the data never accessed unless there is a dispute. So generally, there is no feedback of information to the exporter. A benefit of using remote temperature loggers is that the exporter can choose to receive alerts in ‘near real time’ so that decisions on the consignment can be made sooner rather than having to wait for it to arrive at the final destination, which could otherwise be too late.

Temperature Monitoring Technologies

Temperature technologies - a factsheet produced by Queensland Dept. Agriculture & Fisheries. PDF opens in new window (Note: this document does not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines.)

Choosing a consignment monitoring technology - a factsheet produced by Queensland Dept. Agriculture & Fisheries. PDF opens in new window. (Note: this document does not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines.)

Several companies such as Emerson, Escavox, Fresh Key, Frigga, Sensitech and Tive have developed new generation wireless SIM-based data loggers that are capable of monitoring different parameters such as temperature, light, relative humidity, shock and location in real-time. These innovative loggers have global coverage and work similarly to a mobile phone in that they connect to the nearest phone tower via 2/3/4/5G and autonomously upload data to cloud-based systems that can then be viewed on a handheld device or PC.

Real-time alerts via SMS or email can also be set up to notify users when product arrives at, or departs from pre-determined locations, and if consignment temperatures fluctuate outside set limits. These features come at a cost (e.g. a higher unit price and extra time to set them up compared to USB loggers) however, as export manager for Montague, Mark Bailey said “the main drawcard of these loggers is that the entire supply chain is more visible and in real-time so that potentially if there are any issues, then we can act on them in a more timely manner. For example, if we receive an alert and see the temperature increasing then we can contact the transport or shipping company and ask them to go and check it out”.

When deploying real-time loggers, it is recommended to start them 1 to 2 hours prior to positioning them in or on the top carton of the pallet closest to the door end of the shipping container so that there is minimal communication interference from the motor and water mass of the fresh produce. Temperature data and location may be updated en route depending on the location of the container on the vessel. If the shipping container is stacked in the middle of the vessel or when the vessel is out at sea, then the signal may be compromised. Information will be stored on the device until it comes into range with the next available mobile tower where data will be uploaded to internet cloud servers and accessible to approved users.

Scientist Glenn Hale, from Agriculture Victoria, discusses loggers used during temperature monitoring of stonefruit being exported overseas..
Video transcript

Part of the project is monitoring the cool chain in real time with these data loggers so that we can access the temperature in real time, and we can make decisions, by the time the fruit gets to the port or the dock. If there's been any problems, it's possible to to  change the strategy for marketing or even sales. There's many data loggers available in the marketplace. There's a few that we're trialling in this project, and it's looking at the accuracy and the consistency of the logos and also the functionality of them and how practical they are at gathering information for growers and exporters.  
This Emerson one is approved for airline use and also we've been using it for sea freight. This Sensitech logger we've been using for sea freight. SIM card based, they send a signal to a telecommunication tower. The data is then transferred to a data system, and it's accessible online or through the oversight website. One of the other logos we've been using is the Xsense. It works by radio frequency. So it sends a signal to a communication unit, and the data is downloaded when it's within 100 to 200 metres of this control unit. Another logger that we've been using is the Verigo logger. It works via Bluetooth. So the exporter or the importer can download an app to their mobile phone. They open up the app, it searches for active loggers in the area, and you click on a button and it will find the logger. It will download data and then you can send it via email or you can graph it as well.

Air-freight study

In this study, Xsense® HiTag2 loggers (disposable wireless radio frequency temperature loggers) were used to remotely monitor air-freight consignments to two Asian markets.

Download this information as a pdf PDF opens in new window (Note: this document does not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines.)

Sea freight study

Map highlighting travel route from Australia to Malaysia

Figure 1. A real-time temperature logger (inset) used to monitor a sea freight consignment of ‘Crimson Seedless’ table grapes from Australia to Indonesia. Map is a screen shot of the vessels route, which was taken from a dashboard developed by DAF, Queensland. Photo courtesy of Glenn Hale.

Case Study 1

Video: Interview with Rowan Little, Chief Innovation Officer (Montague) - using temperature loggers and what they've highlighted for industry.

Montague are an exporter business and fruit producer in Victoria. They are investing in the Serviced Supply Chain project to improve the export quality of their stone fruit varieties and are looking at the value of real-time data loggers.

Interview with Rowan Little, innovation officer at Montague. Summerfruit challenges and approaches to managing exports using temperature monitoring.

Transcript of Video interview - Rowan Little (Montague)

The question about monitoring is an interesting one because traditionally we've always done some temperature monitoring, but it's largely up until recently been, geared largely towards, compliance and for some markets where there's cold disinfestation, a protocol you have to probe your containers just because that's what the protocol says.
In other instances, we have put temperature recorders in there because we've taken inherent vice insurance on the container. And if you get, if you want to get insurance, you have show a breach in the temperature of the container in order to, you know, claim the insurance. So when this project came up, I guess the reason that we were excited, by it, it was, it started out being about temperature, but I actually think it's more now just about, looking at where the container actually went. So it's looking at the routes that container went and it's also looking at the time the container took to make its way to the destination market. So while it started out at temperature recording, it ended up being a really neat device to actually see what was happening in the supply chain for our fruit, between when we load the fruit, put it on a container and wave it goodbye at the port and when they get it and sell it. so in answer to your question, what did we learn? The biggest learning we found is it's taking a very long time, typically between when we ship a container of stone fruit, and when the customer actually sells it.
And from the data that we've found for a sea freight voyage, it's taking over 30 days often to do that. and the issue with that is that typically we know from the other work in the project, that a lot of the cultivars that we're shipping are past their optimum quality. it's not bad. It's just, it's missed its optimum opportunity to make the customer really happy.
Where we started out with our, our testing was really largely about a temperature recorder that the person who received the fruit really had to get that, fruit out. And they had to download the data from the temperature recorder, which, there was a whole range of problems with that. One was you really didn't see what was going on with the, with that shipment while it was in journey.  So because you had to download that data and they had to physically get it, the second big problem was that often the customer at the other end couldn't find the recorder, or they chose not to find the recorder. In which case you didn't get the data. So the most recent year, we've really focused on a SIM card based temperature recorder, which means when it goes by our mobile phone tower, it will upload the information and that's enabled us in real time to see where our fruit is at any given time.
And it's actually highlighted some really interesting things about the route that our, that our shipments have taken and often that's far from direct. So we're seeing it stopping for a long period of time or, you know, going into a port and then out of a port and back to the same port. So doing big loops and all sorts of weird stuff.
We do use air freight. yeah. Look, air freight is the, it's almost the opposite. I guess the time. What we've discovered from the temperature probing is that time is the enemy of sea freight. So the delay costs and we've been delighted with the temperature. So of the probing work that we've done, generally the temperature in the container has been very consistent. So we can't criticize that, the shipping lines have done an excellent job. We set it at a particular point and for the whole time of the journey, it is at that point. The problem is the journey is just a little bit long.
It's almost the reverse with the air freight. With air freight we're pretty excited, that realistically, if the fruit's moving very quickly, so we're turning that around super fast. The problem is that the fluctuation in temperature, it can be quite extreme. And we do see, particularly when fruits on the tarmac in a particular, you know, usually in Australia where it's summer, or in Southeast Asia, where it's very hot all the time, it can be left for a period of hours unrefrigerated and the core temperature gets dangerously high. So that accelerates the ripening. But the time it takes, brilliant. It's taking, you know, generally less than three to five days to get to the destination market. So no problem at that end, but, you know, the data tells us that even if we go over about 24 hours at certain temperatures, we are doing damage to the fruit.
Typically all of the fruit that we've been shipping to Southeast Asia, almost without exception in the previous seasons has all been by air, just because the price difference between air and sea is marginal, because the number of flights from Australian cities to the Asian gateways, Singapore, Kula Lumpur, typically there's a lot of flights and the price difference is not significant. However, this will be the first season coming up and in the post COVID world, the air traffic is just not there. And all of typically the vast majority of fruit goes, has up until now, gone on passenger aircraft. Yeah, that the government's offering some subsidies and whatever for air freight, but the volume is just not going to be what it was. So we're probably looking at that and going, but we think probably we're going to have to migrate more to sea freight, moving forward.
The area that I find frustrating is, just the number of stops. So I think we're probably as an industry, as a summer fruit industry, you know, is there a way we could develop some shipping lines who we collaborate together as an industry, you know, between mangoes has the same problem.  There's very limited sea freight options because the time is too long and they need to get it in to the market faster than the sea freight journey. Is there room to work together, with the supply chain to really speed up that shipping line, to stop all that, you know, get a boat that doesn't stop 25 times before it gets to the market that it needs to, streamline the amount of time.  Can we deliver fruit later to the port so that we can get it on the ship and the ship sails instead of it's, you know, spending two days, at the port, even before it sails because every little, every day that you see adds to the time. And what we're trying to do is just reduce that time. So anytime fruit is sitting on a boat and the boat's not going anywhere is, the clock's ticking, we're wasting time.

Case Study 2

Video: Interview with Allan Anderson, Managing director of AND Fresh Pty Ltd – advantages of temperature loggers and examples

ANDFresh is an exporter and logistics business, and fruit producer. They have invested in real-time data-loggers as part of their export business for fruit growers.

Transcript of Video interview - Allan Anderson (ANDFresh)

Temperature monitoring has been happening over the last 50 years, anyway. It started off with analogue temperature recorders in the form of paper and a battery with a, almost like a lie detector only, logging temperature.  And, that was always put in sea containers. And, the first thing someone did the other end was dragged it out, rip it apart and look at the chat and that's progressed into, I would say digital loggers, and which had to be recovered, plugged in, downloaded to software- quite cumbersome in some respects. Then the industry progressed to USB loggers that were plug and play, and they're still about today, but they've still got to be recovered at the end point, whether it's by sea or by air or wherever. It's still got to be recovered, plugged into a PC and then downloaded. And somebody's got to find them, then they've got to send the information off. And they only, they can choose whether they find that, choose whether they plug it in, choose whether they send it to you. When there's insurance involved with sea containers, they must put two of those USB loggers in every container, to partially guaranteed that they will at least one back. That progression to real time has meant that well, one for insurance purposes, you only need one real time longer, because we're guaranteed to get the information. We're getting it all the time throughout the journey. The other thing with a real logger is that you, basically you can, I wont's say 'put out the fires before they start', but you can see what's happening, from the minute you're load into either a see freight or an air freight. And, if there's a problem before it leaves Australia, you can deal with that problem. If there's a problem during transit, you can at least know, before, upon arrival that you've got a problem. Then you can deal with it. And our motto is ‘manage the outcome’. In sea containers, if you're going into a protocol country, you can, you can either, if there's a problem, you can divert the container into a non protocol country, or you can alert the customer and say, we've got a temperature issue. We need to make a claim.

I think what it'll do is it'll make every link of the chain more responsible if they know it's happening. Look, shipping lines are becoming more and more responsible as well. And they tell me that they are putting, some of them are putting monitoring systems in, but traditionally, any system shipping lines have in, they do not impart their knowledge.

We're exporting stonefruit, citrus, mangoes, table grapes. We have some exports going out every week of the year. We do two things. We have our own exports, of which we religiously use loggers in. And then we service the fresh produce industry with loggers. So we sell to either growers-producers, grower-producer- exporters or exporters, and they will then put the logger in the product. We even sell to transport companies who, in the past, when there's been a problem, with outturn, the first thing in the producer turns to as the transport company and blames them. And, we've had multiple transport companies now approach us to be able to put them in their transport to at least prove that they're not at fault, it's happening somewhere else.

We've had a couple of instances in the grape industry this last season, in the 2020 season where, in one instance, I got a call from an exporter-grower who said 'Oh your logger's not working.' And, it had been sitting on, I think something like nine or 10 degrees for seven hours. And he said 'your logger's not working.' And so I had to look at it and, we've never had an instance of a logger not work. And it's always been, outside influences, and that in this case the generator on the train wasn't working.  So it had travelled for seven hours at 10 degrees when it should have been travelling at zero to one. And, so they were able to then notify the people that run the train and, and put everybody on notice that they could have a potential claim.

Another instance where a container went by road from Mildura to Adelaide. And by the time it got to Adelaide, they had to notify the shipping line that the container wasn't working properly. And that got to the point where the shipping line, at their expense, actually unloaded that container, the produce had of that container and put it into another one because of a malfunction.

Summerfruit Webinar series 2021: Benefits of using real time data loggers

Glenn Hale from Agriculture Victoria developed this presentation for Summerfruit industry roadshow 2021 that was replaced by a webinar series.

Presentation developed for Summerfruit industry roadshow 2021 by Glenn Hale from Agriculture Victoria

Video transcript: Benefits of using real time data loggers presented by Glenn Hale from Agriculture Victoria

My name is Glenn Hale, and I'm a research scientist that Agriculture Victoria. Today I'll be talking about the benefits of using real-time data loggers to monitor fruit exports.

So just a little bit of background about the projects I've been working on, some of the real time loggers and their specifications, deploying loggers, flight mode function and approved airlines, some results for both air and sea freight, a dashboard that we've been working on with Queensland DAF some data updates and alerts, a summary at the end, followed by some extension and acknowledgements.

So for the past four years, I've been working on two temperature monitoring projects. The first one is Serviced Supply Chains, and that was with Queensland DAF. They were looking at mangoes and we were looking at stone fruit and table grapes. And over that time, we've monitored over a hundred air and sea freight consignments and conducted five outturn assessments of which I've done four in China, in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

And the other project was with Cherry Growers Australia looking at the cherry cool chain, and that was over two years and in that time we monitored about 25 airfreight consignments. Most of them were through Steritech in Brisbane, and we've conducted two outturn assessments in Ho Chi Minh city. And both of the projects, the goals were to identify weak spots, to help streamline the export process and ultimately improve the quality of, and reputation of Victorian growers and exporters. I've also been encouraging exporters' to use new technology such as these real time data loggers. We do have a friendly dashboard and also we've been looking at infrared refractometers and Brix acid meters to look at fruit quality.

So traditionally exporters have been using the USB loggers, the ones up in the top- right there. Now they're light weight, they're cheap and they're easy to use, except the rely a hundred percent on someone at the other end, retrieving the loggers, downloading the data and sending it back. So a lot of the information isn't returned to the exporters, unless there's an issue.

The logger on the left is a Bluetooth logger and very similar, to these USB loggers.

However, you don't need to find them in the consignments. If someone's within 30 meters of the logger and they have the app installed on their phone, they can connect to this logger and quickly download information and then send it back to the exporter.

The logggers in the middle, the Xsense very similar to a toll road, works by radio frequency. So when the logger passes the antenna within a hundred meters, it will download information. So I guess you could have several of these control units set up along the export supply chain to be able to track temperatures along that cool chain.

But the loggers on the right are the ones I want to focus on today. And these are the real time data loggers. Now they all contain SIM cards. So they work very much like a mobile phone. So the four loggers that I've been looking at in this project amongst others Emerson, Frigga, Sensitech and Tive. Now they're all three, four, and five G loggers these days. The 2G network's been disconnected in Australia. These loggers are single use. There are are other ones that are multiple use, but you would require a closed loop or they might be good for domestic supply chains where they're easier to get back. They're roughly a little bit smaller than a mobile phone, approximately 80 mm to around a hundred mm and they weigh roughly a hundred to 150 grams. All these loggers have sensors for temperature, location, and light. Some of them have sensors for humidity, vibration, or shock and even motion. And the only one that I'm aware of that has a probe on it, is the Frigga logger. And there's two types, a one metre cable, and a 15 metre cable. And I guess the one metre cable would be ideal for measuring temperatures within a carton and also outside the carton. The 15 metre cable would be ideal for measuring two positions, say in a shipping container. So if the unit was placed near the door end and the probe could be set up down the other end near the fans. There's a photo down the bottom left there that shows a probe inserted into nectarines. The probe is a little bit thick and not very pointy at the end. So it may not be ideal for measuring pulp temperature in smaller fruits, such as table grapes.

These loggers, one of the benefits of them is that they have real time alerts and you can get them via email or SMS. Another feature of these loggers is the battery life. They range from 15 days in the Emerson up to about 90 days in the Tive. Although I do know that the Frigga can be extended to over a hundred days. They all have their online portals, so you can access information on the computer or on mobile phones, or other smart devices. Another feature is some of them have automatic flight mode function, and others have manual flight modes. And I'll talk about that a little bit more in a minute. The temperature range is roughly minus 20 to about 70 degrees, which is more than adequate for these supply chains. And they're reasonably accurate at half a degree. All these loggers cost $75 upwards and even over a hundred dollars in some cases, and some loggers do have reusable options. Another interesting point to note is the sensing and the reporting intervals, because the lower you have these interval set the quicker it will burn through the battery and potentially go flat before it reaches the destination. So that's something to keep in mind. They all report in either Excel, CSV or PDF format, and that's available 24/7 soon after activating these loggers. And some of the loggers have a green option, which is good for sustainability.

So where to place these loggers. The logger manufacturers recommend that the loggers are placed at the back of the container on top of the last pallet. And that's because that's the best place for reception. We've been placing the loggers inside the top carton in the last pallet, and we've been receiving some good results and it's a bit more realistic to monitor the ambient temperatures that the fruit is actually within.

So after deploying these loggers, it's just a matter of logging into a dashboard, entering your email and password, and then you can go and set up the device and add any activation codes that might be required such as the Frigga logger. And then you can create a shipment and set up temperature and location alerts, which is very handy. And you can set up notifications for email and text or even mobile push messages.

Flight mode function is automatic or manual. And the Emerson logger has a geo-fence that's set up around a lot of the airports so that when the logger passes through this geo-fence, it will automatically go into flight mode, and the Tive and the Emerson also have an accelerometer which when the plane takes off or lands, the accelerometer detects rapid changes in speed and height, and will automatically go into flight mode function.

The Frigga logger there on the right is you'd need to manually enter a flight mode. So you just need to go into the device settings, into an airport, and then it all automatically set up a 5k radius around the airport, so when the logger passes into this area, it will go into flight mode. And then all you have to do is add down the bottom, roughly how long you will require the logger to be in flight mode to cover the flight and loading also at the start. Airline approvals: the Tive has the most over 50 airline approvals and the Emerson has approximately 30.

So here's an example of a delayed cooling trial, where we were monitoring the temperatures from Mildura all the way to Malaysia. The temperature graphs on the left and the map of the top-right, is what you would see on the dashboard. And then the two graphs down the bottom-right is what you would see on a mobile phone, through their app. The top graph is a product temperature and the bottom graph on the left is air temperature, so outside the carton, and you can see a nice smooth graph there. And we've set up temperature thresholds at three degrees and zero degrees, and for majority of the trip to KL, you can see that the temperatures are within that zone. The graph down the bottom, there's more temperature fluctuations because I guess you're measuring the air flow of the air within the container, and the total trip time was about five weeks. There was roughly a week's delay in Mildura while this consignment was merged with another commercial consignment, because we only had several boxes of fruit for this trial.

With the map at the top, right there, these little circles represent mobile updates and there's some good information observed along the way. Around the base of Western Australia and up through Indonesia to Singapore and then Malaysia.

This slide shows another temperature profile for sea freight of stone fruit to China. The temperature thresholds were set at minus one and five degrees, and very good cool chain for majority of the trip until it was at the importer in Hong Kong, I believe. And then it was trucked up to Shanghai. You can see some very good updates along the coast of Australia into Hong Kong. And then through, Guangzhou up to Shanghai . The middle graph here, is the light sensor, and you can see that when the logger was put into the carton, it's obviously picked up some light. And then also at the other end, when the importers open the carton. And that matches up with the graph at the bottom, showing the shock function as well.

The two graphs in the middle in the orange is from the Frigga app. You just need to select all, and then toggle on the temperature, humidity, light, and shock to quickly see what these senses are doing on your mobile phone.

This slide shows airfreight of table grapes to Vietnam back in February. Steritech helped put the loggers in for us just after radiation of the fruit. This one, this consignment went to Vietnam to Hanoi and you can see the fruit was treated down here in Melbourne and then transported by road up to Sydney. I guess there was some restrictions in flights leaving Melbourne, so it was trucked up to Sydney and then the flight to Hanoi. And that's where you can see these temperature profiles increasing. It's not uncommon for them to go up to approximately 15 degrees. The total trip time here is roughly five days, and you can see that half of that time it was spent at the freight forwarder, looking for a flight to get it to Vietnam.

Here's a dashboard that Queensland DAF have been working with in conjunction with some exporters and developers. And if we open up the dashboard, this is what we would see. Down the left-hand side we've got pages for dashboard, any archive, loggers, managing the device, managing shipments. We do have a shelf life calculator that can predict remaining shelf life, in particular for mangoes. We're currently working on one for stone fruit. And then the last page is the default settings page. So on this dashboard, we can see the consignment ID, the type of fruit or vegetable that we're dealing with, the origin and the destination. We do have the API for several loggers, so we can just visually see all this information on one dashboard rather than going to multiple dashboards. We have the logger ID there, and when it was last recorded and the location. The alerts severity, the colours there represent whether they're within or have gone outside threshold parameters. And we can link a QR code to these loggers and to the consignment as well, which is good for traceability. Now, if I was to click on the show icon there for this third one, it will come up with a screen like this, with the logger number, the position of the logger within the container. For status this is to do with the location alerts that we have set up. We don't have any here other than this one. And that was when it arrived. This is a table group consignment that went to Indonesia, the middle of last year. And we have a temperature profile here with a threshold set at minus one and four degrees I believe. A very good cool chain for the entire trip. This spike at the end is when the importer has removed the logger. If we were to hover the cursor over the temperature graph, we'll be able to see the date, the time and the temperature. And this consignment has taken about four weeks to arrive at the destination market. And here's a map of the route. You can see these temperature updates with these red dots here tracking the ship around, clockwise around Australia. And the bottom of Western Australia up through Indonesia into Malaysia and then back down to Singapore and then finally down to Surabaya in Indonesia. And here's a closer look at where the temperature updates were occurring.

Some more info on data updates is for the same consignment we did put in, we had Frigga and Tive loggers in here. And occasionally some of them don't update as often as we would like. And so you see these straight lines between points A and B and the Frigga logger has updated several times to Adelaide and then around the bottom of Western Australia through Indonesia, up to Singapore and Malaysia. I guess it depends sometimes what position the shipping container is on the ship. If it's on the right side, in this example, there may be a chance that it can find mobile phone towers and update along the route. If not, you'll only receive information when it does update, which could be at the other end. The ship's gone from Melbourne up to Sydney and Brisbane, where we've received a temperature updates, and then there's been nothing over Northern Australia and no updates until Singapore and eventually in Thailand. But you can see roughly 25 days for this pome fruit to arrive in Thailand. Very good cool chain below the temperature thresholds we set at three degrees here.

Some more information about art data updates. You can see lots of updates along the coast of Australia and around Northern Australia all the way through Singapore ,Malaysia, Sri Lanka through the Suez canal, some updates below Greece, and then the last update was at the base of Italy. Unfortunately, the exporter didn't inform me of this logger and the battery has run out after 49 days on its voyage to the UK. But you can see some temperature fluctuations along the trip. It spent roughly several days in Singapore, being trans-shipped, and that's where there's a few temperature spikes there.

One of the benefits of using these real time loggers is the alert functions that you can set up on them. And this is an apple consignment that was on the way to the UK middle of last year. We had temperature threshold set at minus one and three degrees, and you can see that the temperature did increase above that. And I did receive an alert on my mobile phone. I then contacted the exporter who then contacted the shipping company, who then went and had a look to see what was wrong. And you can see they fixed the problem, and the temperatures have started to decrease back down within the set limits. So that's one positive outcome, of using these loggers. Who knows what the fruit would have looked like if it had have spent another three or four weeks above 10 degrees.

So just to summary of real-time loggers, the benefits of using them is that you can monitor pulp temperatures, also carton positions within shipping containers, and also you can measure ambient temperatures within the container. The monitoring is in real time, provided that loggers are started early. We do recommend starting them one to two hours before placing them in any consignments, just so that they can connect with the network. And then there's more chance of receiving temperature, updates, or location alerts on route.

Another benefit is you have full access to all of the data pretty much 24/ 7, right from the start of when they are activated. So you're not relying on anyone else to collect loggers, download information and send it back to you. The data is literally at your fingertips because it only takes a few seconds to log on to an app on your phone, and you can see what's happening with consignment, temperatures, and locations.

We have developed a universal dashboard that is user friendly, and we can stream multiple devices from different branded loggers into our dashboard. And we have integrated the temperature with quality out turn so that we can predict shelf life for mangoes and also stone fruit.

Some loggers are more suitable for different modes of transport for road, for sea and for air. Those flight mode functions are very handy.

The entire supply chain is more visible, and I believe that makes all of the links more accountable.

And we can program a alerts for temperature and location, so that if they do go outside of set limits, then you can potentially do something about it before the consignment arrives at the final destination.

Some of the challenges of using these loggers is that the signal may be compromised. If the logger is in a container that's in the middle of a ship somewhere will then , you may not receive any information until the container is unloaded at the other end.

There is a manual programing for flight mode, which can be a little bit tricky or time-consuming and no updates during air freight because of flight mode and also sea freight because there's no towers in the middle of the ocean.

These loggers do come at higher unit costs compared to USB loggers, and there are minimum orders and postage can be a bit expensive from America.

Some of the exporters have mentioned to me that they've accidentally started these loggers. They do have a button on the face which can be accidentally pushed. So it's important to handle them with care.

And it does take a little bit of time to program loggers in the dashboard. Obviously, the more you do the quicker you get at it, or you can also have information pre-programmed that's easy to input into these dashboards to speed up the process. With some of the dashboards, the data only archive for a several months, so you would need to access the information before then. You can still get it afterwards by contacting the support teams, but it may not be in the format that is easy to see, like what's on the dashboards.

And one of the negative, of the real-time loggers is the shelf life of the batteries. They last roughly three to 12 months. If you're not going to use them within that time. Then there's probably no point ordering hundreds of them because they will be flat by the time you go to use them, some of the loggers can be recharged, which is a handy feature.

Just some extension or a technology transfer that we've done in these projects. We have written several industry articles in the vine magazine. The top one, there is 'real time temp loggers tell the story' and we do have a new article coming out in the vine. It's in press at the moment. There's another article there in the middle for 'across borders, keeping your temperature monitoring real'. The article down the bottom in good fruit and veggies is 'exporter Victorian cherries to be live track this season'. And then on the right-hand side, there was another article on cherries in Fresh Plaza. All of this information is available on the HIN or the horticultural industry network web page. And there's also some available on Cherry Growers Australia's web page.

We have done several social and media releases on Facebook over the time. And we have done a stone fruit road show to Renmark, Mildura and Swan hill. A couple of years ago, planning on going this year, but due to COVID, it may have to go online, have done some radio and TV interviews with a couple of radio stations and presented information at science conferences and webinars, and also train some staff overseas and also connected with some logger companies whilst overseas.

So just to conclude and finish up I'd like to acknowledge EDIS or ag policy group within Agriculture Victoria for funding the cherry project. Also QDAF for running the Service Supply Chains project. I'd also like to thank Cherry Growers Australia and Steritech for their help and also the logger companies. And once again, a lot of the information is available on the HIN website with the link there.

Talk from Summerfruit Webinar series 2020: Managing fruit quality for export

Glenn Hale, from Agriculture Victoria, presents at the Summerfruit Industry webinar series 2020, talking on a key topic for industry:  Using real-time data loggers and dashboards
Webinar 26 August 2020 (26 min 15 sec)

Webinar presentation - PDF opens in new window (Note: this document does not meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility guidelines.)

Transcript of Webinar Video: Using real-time data loggers and dashboards

So this afternoon, I'd just like to cover the Service Supply Chains project, some of the temperature loggers that we've been using, summary, uh, show you a dashboard that Queensland DAF have developed in consultation with some exporters and growers. There'll be some more information at the end and also a chance to ask some questions and comment.

The service supply chains is a joint project with Queensland department of Ag and Fisheries. It's been running now for three to four years. There's three main components in the project. One of them is temperature monitoring and that's what I'll talk about today. The second one is decision aid tools or DAT's, and that's what John Lopresti has been working on. We presented some information on that last week and we'll present some more next week. And the third component is sustainable solutions, which is, the technology transfer or extension side of the project.

So the goal of the service supply chains project is to increase the value and profitability of Australian horticulture. We're looking at exports to Asia. And how are we going to do that? We’ll be looking at  improving the freshness, the taste and that consistency. And one way we will be doing that is through demonstrating the benefits of temperature monitoring to growers and exporters, and trying to encourage industry to adapt this technology.

Now, traditionally, I guess, growers and exporters have used USB data loggers, and that's to protocol markets. But, sometimes the information, the temperature data, doesn't always come back to the growers of the exporters. And, it's certainly, generally through insurance claims that the growers or the exporters will be getting information.

And that's where real time data loggers come into it. the loggers on the left here,  are SIM card based loggers. this is only a small selection of what's available out there in the marketplace, but these are the ones that we've been trailling in this service supply chains project. And you can see there's Emerson, Frigga, there's a TempTale and a Tive logger. The one in the middle is an Xsense logger and, it works a bit like, a toll way. it works by radio frequency. So when the logger passes within a hundred meters of this control unit, that'll download the data. The logger on the right is a Bluetooth logger. And it's similar to, I guess, a USB logger except, the importer doesn't need to retrieve that.

If they're within 30 meters of the logger, they can connect to it through Bluetooth on their phone. All of these loggers, are suitable for road, sea and air transport. However, there are some exceptions, with the air freight, just due to, the technology and flight mode capability. And I'll go into that in a little bit more detail later.

Some of the technical specifications of the loggers, here, I'm not going to be recommending any loggers, but it's just here for comparing and contrasting, I guess, Generally they're around 80 to a hundred mil, in size and they weigh roughly a hundred to just over 150 grams. They all have temperature, location and light sensors. And the light sensor is particularly if shipping containers are opened, well then you can see an increase in the light levels on the logger, or if the loggers within the carton, when the cartons opened, you can identify that. Some of the loggers have a relative humidity, vibration, shock, and motion sensors. And as far as I know the only one that has a probe, he's the Frigo Maga. The one made a cable would be useful for measuring core temperature of fruits, say within the same box as the logger itself, or there is a 15 meter cable that you could put down the other end of the shipping container, so you can get two different temperatures. There are alerts by email and SMS. They, have additional charges.

Some of the other specifications is the battery life, generally 60 days. The Tive blogger is a bit longer. They all have access to cloud facilities, and the temperature ranges of these loggers vary from about minus 30, up to about 70 degrees, which is more than adequate. The accuracy is pretty good being half to one degree. And the interval time and the reporting interval is I guess, important because that depends on. it'll burn through the battery a lot faster. So depending on the length of the trip, you can, extend these intervals just so that the battery lasts a lot longer.

Reporting wise,  they have, Excel, PDF word and CSV, which is a data file, which you can download at any time. And most of them, are recyclable or they have a green option these days. How do these real time loggers work? They have a SIM card in them, much like a mobile phone. So they connect to the mobile phone network, where they upload data automatically then transmits into the cloud.  And then the user can see the data, on a PC or handheld device, pretty much at any time. As long as there's a connectivity. How to start these loggers, pretty simple, pretty quick. The Emerson one, you just have to pull a tab, and the other loggers, push a start button. One of these green buttons here, hold it in for a few seconds until lights flashing. There's a few beeping sounds. My advice is to start these loggers early, at least one to three, two hours before deploying because they need to connect to the network and, like at home or at work, there's always, some areas where reception can be low. So it's good to take the loggers to either there an open area or an area where there's good reception, just so that they connect, prior to deploying them. Because if you don't well then, data or information may not be available until the loggers reach importers, overseas. So that could be three or four weeks later.

After activating the logger, it's just a matter of going to their home page, logging in, entering a serial number or an additional code, with the Frigo Loga and then activating the logger. That's the quick bit, the slower bit is creating shipments and setting up alerts, and as you can see on the right hand side, the more information you put in, I guess the more you'll get out. But it's also important if you have a lot of loggers , it would be easier to track or manage, the information within say a few weeks of, the export process, or even if you're analysing data at the end of the season. The alerts you can set up so that you get email or SMS. You can set up thresholds, temperature threshold so that, if the logger temperature goes above the set a level, will then you can get an email or an SMS and similar for location alerts as well.  You can set locations along the supply chain so that when the logger passes into this location, it can send you a message, which I guess is good for alerting customers or freight forwarders that there's produce on the way.

Where to place the loggers. The logger companies recommend placing them in on the top of the last pallet, closest to doors, whether that's on a truck or in a shipping container. They don't generally recommend inside the carton, because that interferes with the signal sometimes, and not on the wall or the floor.  If the loggers are placed outside the container where the project is, well, then it's not, I guess, giving the most accurate, environmental temperature of what, the produce is in.

Air fright, Emison loggers, are approved for over 20 airlines. They're in discussions with a few more. The Tive logger is approved for 4 airlines there and, Escavox, which is, I guess, the new kid on the block, has approval for two local airlines, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia.

Because these loggers contain SIM cards, like a mobile phone, they need to be able to go into flight mode automatically when they're at the airport or upon loading. So Emerson have two ways that loggers can, transmit into flight mode. A function and that is through GEO fencing around the airport.  So when the logger passes through this, geo-fence, it'll automatically transfer to flight mode. And the second option is they do contain an accelerometer in the logo, and when they detect rapid changes in speed and height, they automatically transfer into flight mode. With the Frigga logger, it's a little bit more manual where you need to type in the airport, and then tick a box here, which then sets up flight mode within a five kilometer radius of the airport. And you need to set how long you would like the logo to be in flight mode.

So just in summary, there's many positives of using realtime loggers. the first one is that I guess the entire supply chain is more visible so that, you can see where temperature fluctuations might be occurring and then you can enact on them to try and streamline it and reduce those temperature fluctuations.  It is in real time. which means if there is any issues, then you can do something about it rather than waiting for produce to arrive, at the end of the supply chain or the importers, for example. The alerts settings are a good function. and as I've mentioned, you can set up, temperature alerts and also location alerts.  And with those loggers, you've got full access to the data, right from the time you start them and you can download reports, pretty much anytime 24-seven. And as I've mentioned, they're useful for roads, sea, and air transport with some restrictions,

Some of the cons. Well the not so good points is signal may be compromised. These realtime loggers, when they're in the middle of the ocean, there's obviously no mobile phone towers, so they can't download information there, but they will hold that information until they come into contact with a mobile phone tower at the other end, and then all the data will be downloaded.

And obviously air freight, not all airlines have approval to use them as yet. There are higher unit costs for these loggers. Real time logos are approximately 80 plus dollars, which is obviously a lot more expensive than say a USB logger, which has been used in the past. And they also have a minimum order as well.

So ,  say for example, ten may be a minimal for some of the loggers. One other negative potentially is that, with the start buttons, they may accidentally be pushed.  So that's just something to be aware of when using these loggers. And also the time to program them. I did set one up a few weeks ago, not having done it for a while and it took me roughly 15 minutes, but that was because I was setting up these alerts, so I needed actual addresses for, when the loggers passed into say the ports, around Australia or overseas. The dashboards, the data on some of them are limited to a few months. so there's just something to be aware of. Other logger companies have the data available for much longer periods.  This is something to be aware of. And also the battery shelf life is generally sort of limited to several months. so when ordering the it's best to order the ones you're going to use and not keep them on the shelf, I guess for 12 months or for next season .

Just an example of some photos that, from a sea freight consignment that went to China earlier this year, and the logger's positioned in there. There's one here measuring core temperature and interestingly the core temperature didn't vary much. There wasn't much difference between the core and the ambient temperature of that box, which was good.

To the dashboard now. This is a dashboard developed by Queensland DAF, in consultation with growers and some exporters. it's used for research purposes only. So it's not trying to compete against the other dashboards from these bigger companies. but you can see here. Some basic set up here - the loggers, the shipment numbers, we have the API for couple of Loggers, Frigga and Tive at the moment and that so that we can live stream the data from the logger into this dashboard. We can also set logger positions on here. Your origin and destination, when they were last recorded and the most recent location and the green line or the green ticks here means that they're all within the threshold limits that have been set up before. And if we go and look at one of these consignments, this is some of the information that we've put in at the start. So the, fresh fruit consignment from Northern Victoria to Indonesia to Surabaya.  We set up some location alerts around these places here, so that when the logger passed within that range, we got an alert notifying that it was there.  You can see the, the map of the route there, and I'll show you a larger version of that in a minute. And yeah the threshold temperatures there would sit at a minus one to four.

So if we go and look at the map in a little bit more detail, these red pins here are downloads from mobile phone towers.  So it'll draw a straight line between these points. Obviously the ship's going around the bottom of WA there, but you can see it's going to Indonesia. It's gone up here, through here, and it's actually gone to Malaysia first, come back to Singapore and then come back down to Surabaya in Indonesia.  And, this trip here, I think it was roughly four weeks. And there's a little bit more detail. These are the pings on the coast here. This is a temperature graph from the actual logger. If you hover the mouse over the temperature graph, it all show you the date and the time and the temperature.

Just a little bit more information on the project. There was, an industry article published last year in the Vine magazine in July, that explains a little bit more about the project, and some useful features of some of the loggers that we've used, conducted in the outturn assessment there, in I think it was China.

Another industry article that, is in the process of being published at the moment in Across Borders, is coming out next week, I believe. Just has some more information about these loggers and there's that Map that I was just explaining here. Interestingly, there's a section here that is from an exporter. If we receive an alert and see the temperature increasing, then we can contact the transporter shipping company and ask them to check it out. and interestingly, just recently, I received an alert from one of the loggers. I contacted the exporter who then contacted the shipping company. And, he was able to, check out the temperature because it was increasing and, within a few hours or so it sorted out the issue.  And, we could see the temperature decreasing, which was good. So I think that's, definitely one of the advantages of using these real time logges, and that's also a practical example. Right. I think that's pretty much it for me, Mark. thank you very much for your time this afternoon.  If there's any questions or comments, I'm happy to take them, and obviously some more information available here that Mark has mentioned about previously. So I'll hand it back to you Mark.

Fantastic. Thanks Glen. I do, I have a question just to start off, while we're waiting, if there's any questions that might come through. You've got one more year of the project so you're working with stonefruit or summer fruit and  table grapes. Is there an opportunity for people to get involved with your project for this last 12 months?

yeah. Sure. I mean we're happy to talk to any of the industries, especially about temperature monitoring and potentially, helping to work with them to monitor, some export shipments in the future.

I've got a few more. Has the, I mean, you're talking about, real time data. has it been used domestically at all? You're aware of anything that way?

Yeah, I do believe they're using it domestically. maybe in other industries like meat and seafood, but, Other than that, not, I'm not a hundred percent sure, but, it's, it's definitely got the capability for using locally and domestically. and even to say New Zealand or something,

Okay. just, just on the summer fruit, shipping, just to touch base on that again because we talked about this some time ago. What sort of things did you see around, around shipping? What did realtime provide from a shipping perspective? I guess the, the main, thing that we've saw from the shipping monitoring that we've done is the actual time that it's taking for the sea freight containers to arrive in the importers, overseas.  And it's taking roughly four weeks, which is a bit longer than a lot of what growers and exporters originally thought.

NoeI Ainsworth, says, I'm aware that a number of avocado domestic and export businesses are now monitoring temperature more closely. thanks, Noel, that's fabulous.

So from Andrew McNish, nice presentation Glenn. Are reusable log is available and more cost effective, or are they just a single trip?

Thanks for the, question, Andrew, yes, the loggers that I presented today, are single use loggers, I guess, cause the battery life is, 60 to 90 days. But there are other loggers within those brands that are reusable. But I guess the only thing to, to think about there is they will work better in a closed loop export supply chain.  So, depending on the relationship, between you and the importer, well then, it will be easier to get those reusable loggers back.

Great. Another question from Noel. Glenn, do you think temperature monitoring is more important when using air or sea freight?

Well, we've seen from the monitoring over the last few years that the sea freight is generally very good temperature's, very low, you know, zero to two degrees for the whole trip. There was only a few, maybe small increases in temperature around trans shipping and unloading, but air freight is, obviously a shorter timeframe, but that's where we're seeing larger spikes in temperature, and it can be up to 10 or 12 degrees, but yeah, just for a short period of time.


Video: Research monitoring temperature in sea freight and air freight.

Monitoring temperature of stonefruit during export (air and sea freight)

Presentation from Stonefruit Research Roadshow August 2019: Observations from monitoring sea and airfreight.

Video transcript

This project is looking at exports to Asian markets and in particular we are looking at China. Well, we've been monitoring the cool chain for stonefruit from the pack house in Victoria to the export markets in China and also to some other countries, Singapore and Malaysia.

Well, the information that we're gathering from the temperature monitoring is feeding into these DAT models, the decision aid tools and we are testing different mature fruit at different temperatures to see what effect it has on shelf life and quality, and also on ripening. Different issues between sea freight and airfreight. Sea freight is a longer time at a lower temperature, which is is good. For airfreight, it's a higher temperature for a shorter time, but then you have a longer shelf life period in the export markets. The kill zone for stone fruit is between three degrees and eight degrees, and every time the temperature of the fruit goes up and down between this zone, it can affect the quality and the shelf life of the fruit. The stone fruit market opened up to China, two or three years ago, and for the quarantine treatment, it's a cold treatment for sea freight, roughly two degrees for three weeks. The fruit is in transit for between 24 to 29 days and this appears to be a lot longer than a lot of the exporters anticipated. Generally, the temperatures are very good, between zero and two degrees, but the issue is the length of time that it takes to get to the market. Well, generally, the shelf life of stone fruit is somewhere between two to three, maybe four weeks. So the longer the sea freight just means that there's less time for the fruit to be in market at the other end. So the quality won't be as good.

The importers are requesting the growers to harvest fruit at six to eight kilograms of firmness, and it's a little immature, but it helps to withstand the long transit times of the sea freight. The main impact of harvesting stone fruit at high firmness is that some fruit may not ripen to its full potential, and that way the consumer is not experiencing the best quality fruit.

Well, we are monitoring the air freight for stone fruit to China and to Singapore and Malaysia. There is a methyl bromide treatment of a set rate, 18 grams per cubic metre for a set time, five and a half hours, and that's to satisfy the Chinese quarantine procedures. The main issue with air freight is probably higher temperatures, but only for a short time, maybe up to 10, 11, 12 degrees, but it is only for a short time.


The Serviced Supply Chains project is funded by the Hort Frontiers Asian markets Fund, part of the Hort Frontiers Asian strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from Agriculture Victoria, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland (DAFQ), Montague Fresh (summerfruit), Manbulloo (mangoes), Glen Grove (citrus), the Australian Government plus in-kind support from University of Queensland and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.