Packaging with traceability technology that provides a trail of information throughout the supply chain can help to ensure product safety and improve efficiency – factors of great importance to Australian retailers. But how is the technology being used in the fresh supply chain?

Over the past two years, Pact Group’s materials handling division has developed a bespoke RFID-enabled ‘Intellicrate®’ and pooling process for produce crates in the Woolworths supply chain. Pact Executive General Manager Sales, Marketing and Innovation, Siobhan McCrory says this is the first time in the southern hemisphere that RFID technology has been used in crate pooling, giving Woolworths the most innovative supply chain solution in Australia for fresh produce.

“With no off-shelf pooling solutions that solved customer issues and met asset-life requirements, we developed a new web-based ordering platform, track-and-trace technology and new hygiene standard.”

Pact says four million Intellicrates® embedded with RFID tags has been supplied to growers from four “world class” automated wash facilities commissioned in 12 months.

New sanitisation standards and centrifugal drying equipment are said to deliver dryer, more hygienic crates than previous industry standards meeting HACCP requirements.

Ms McCrory says Woolworths now has a more hygienic produce crate, and traceability via RFID guarantees supply-chain visibility and the highest industry levels of crate availability.

“Growers have converted from the former system, and lost-crate rates within the supply chain have been reduced radically,” she said. “The retailer is delivered produce in hygienic Intellicrates, reducing contamination risk, and the online portal allows just-in-time stock replenishment and full traceability of hired assets, reducing lost.”

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