Hy-Vee was in search of an automated solution to manage its cold chain to increase product consistency and quality while reducing labor costs.
The RFID solution delivers:
- Corporate-wide management of cold chain
- Labor cost savings
- Better product consistency and quality
- Increased product shelf-life
Like most grocery retailers, Hy-Vee is faced with the challenge of providing the highest quality products to its shoppers. Shoppers want the longest possible shelf life from perishable products and expect a consistent product experience each time they shop. Controlling the quality of products sold leads to shopper loyalty, which is of paramount importance to the success of Hy-Vee.
Before products arrive in stores, Hy-Vee's distribution centers (DCs) handle items including dairy products, fresh meats, seafood, deli items, produce and frozen goods, all of which have different temperature needs and sensitivities. During transit from suppliers to DCs, Hy-Vee has limited visibility and temperature management abilities due to large amount of supplier managed transportation. For instance, during a week-long transit, a supplier's carrier equipment may malfunction, causing an item to thaw and then refreeze once repairs are made.
Hy-Vee sought help from TempTRIP, an RFID solution provider that focuses on shipping, storage, receiving, and temperature control. TempTRIP's EPC RFID tags use Impinj chips to monitor and report temperature readings throughout the shipping and receiving process. The tags can also be re-configured and re-used, a unique feature within the current market of temperature monitoring devices.
How It Works
Hy-Vee requires suppliers to include TempTRIP UHF Gen2 RFID tags powered by Impinj Monza X-8K chips with every order. The TempTRIP tags record time and temperature readings on pre-set intervals throughout the shipping and receiving process. When items arrive at the DCs, tags are passed by Impinj Speedway Revolution readers placed between dock doors. Each reader is connected to 11 antennas using Impinj Speedway Antenna Hubs. The readers collect and send data to TempTRIP's servers. Algorithms are applied to the data on a per-product basis, allowing each product to be evaluated based on specific temperature guidelines. After the data is analyzed, results are sent to a Hy-Vee website. Hy-Vee uses this data to refuse product, investigate product, measure performance, provide feedback to drivers, carriers and suppliers, and determine if an item should be discounted based on a shorter expected shelf-life.
Once data is collected, the tag is cleared and configured for reuse. This system gives Hy-Vee 100% cold chain monitoring and management capabilities both inbound and outbound, from multiple suppliers, subsidiaries, distribution centers, transport carriers, and retail store locations.
Hy-Vee has greatly benefited due to the implementation of RFID monitoring. First, monitoring food products during transit allows them to be confident in perishable product shelf-life, quality, and safety, thus providing customers with a consistent product experience and ensuring customer loyalty.
Second, using TempTRIP's reusable tags solution offers a 22% reduction in supplier costs in comparison to similar single-use device. Cost of labor was also reduced due to data integration and the ability to upload data directly to Hy-Vee's website. Labor costs were also reduced due to a 97% reduction in data evaluation times. With RFID, the entire process was reduced from five minutes to eight seconds.
Hy-Vee is currently deploying this system to additional DCs and suppliers. Additionally, TempTRIP network-connected RFID readers based on the Impinj Indy RS500 SiP are being built for use at each Hy-Vee retail location. This will allow for shipment results to be known upon store delivery. This will also allow Hy-Vee retail stores the capability to use TempTRIP tags on deliveries that come directly from a supplier.
Hy-Vee began in 1930 when Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg opened a small general store in Beaconsfield, Iowa. Since then, Hy-Vee has expanded to 235 locations across eight Midwestern states. Hy-Vee takes pride in being an employee-owned grocery retailer. The company's commitment to healthy lifestyles is evident by their HealthMarket department which features in-store dietitians and chefs, sponsored community events, and consumer and employee wellness programs. With sales of more than $8 billion, Hy-Vee ranks among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States.
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