Why multiple-use devices are re-inventing supply chain tracking


A unique Australian-designed supply chain monitoring device has rapidly gone from ‘throw-away’ to ‘stow-away’ as importers overseas switch onto the financial and environmental benefits of retaining and re-using the technology.

Supply chain data provider Escavox is measuring the success of its efforts to enhance the reputation of its world-leading multi-use devices by the numbers being returned from overseas importers.

“We are seeing hundreds of devices returned and now we’re confidently forecasting it will be thousands very soon,” says the project’s lead Stephanie Mackillop.

“These are devices which can easily end up in landfill, because so many supply chain trackers in the market are single use only and must be disposed of after each journey is completed.”

As Stephanie explains, the distinctive ‘Blue Box’ smart trackers issued by Escavox are different from all other real-time monitoring devices tracking fresh food in the supply chain.

“For a start they can be used multiple times, which means plastic, batteries and e-waste is saved from unnecessarily going into landfill,” she says.

“Secondly, customers who use our service don’t buy the devices, they effectively rent them for the duration of the supply chain journey or leg.

“Once the leg is completed, all they need do is have them returned to earn a substantial rebate per device on what they’ve paid – so there is both a financial incentive and environmental imperative to ensure these devices aren’t thrown away.”

To assist in getting more trackers returned, Escavox has established tracker return hubs in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and New Zealand to make the returns process easier.

“More international hubs are coming soon,” Stephanie says.

“Encouraging more devices to be returned has always been an important part of our work with domestic food suppliers, and now we’re extending this approach and capability to our international network.

“And we’re continuing to strengthen our efforts at home, having recently arranged to have trackers collected from the central produce markets of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and returned to our North Sydney office.”

The Escavox system works by having smart trackers travel with the consignment of food from point of pack to its selected destination. The trackers send the information in real-time directly to a dashboard on the customer’s desktop computer or mobile device.

The information on the Escavox dashboard will explain where the produce is located and whether it is too hot, too cold or exposed to too much light, humidity and movement based on what that category of food needs to stay at optimum quality and freshness.

Escavox is the only company in the world whose hardware, software and business model has been designed to work in the fresh food supply chain.

“We use advanced algorithms that process the data in real time to tell you not only that there is a problem, but who is accountable and the impact of that problem on your food,” Stephanie says.

“For anyone with a stake in getting their produce in the freshest quality from farm to the retail shelf, it is like having eyes and ears on their produce every step of the journey, whether by road, rail, sea or air, anywhere in the world.

“With that information they can make data-informed decisions when it comes to improving their supply chains, resulting in fresher quality more consistently, reducing rejections, securing revenue and eradicating waste.”

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