Case studies

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A Look at the Meat Trade, Tracking & Shelf-Life

The Situation

The meat trade has always had a big focus on shelf-life, for obvious reasons. But now, as Australian retailers and importers overseas are requesting proof of company claims for saleability timelines alongside these meat products, shelf-life is more important than ever before.

It’s no secret that the biggest factor in shelf-life for red meat is the temperature. The very best way to extend the meat’s shelf-life is by controlling the temperature.

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) are a producer-funded industry organisation that has been designed to advance industry in Australia. They’ve teamed up with Agriculture Tasmania, as well as an array of industry professionals and experts to develop a Shelf-Life Calculator.

While MLA brought this smart shelf-life algorithm, they still needed a way to track temperature across the cold chain, to inform the Shelf-Life Calculator.

That’s where Tracknact got involved. We’re supplying the technology and visibility required to make this algorithm come to life. MLA chose to collaborate with us due to our agnostic approach to technology — we’re not tied to any hardware or product. As well as that, we’re local and come with our own support team — making us an ideal partner.

The Shelf-Life Calculator will estimate the shelf-life of vacuum-packed beef and sheep primals. The tool has been designed to predict the remaining shelf-life of these meat products, providing producers and retailers with better certainty in their products.

The Challenge

For Tracknact, the challenge at this stage is driving the key algorithms involved to improve and become tighter.

The Shelf-Life Calculator is still in testing and requires further refinement before it can be launched on a national scale.

As it’s an ongoing trial we’re working on, there have been a few challenges to overcome so far both for MLA and Tracknact.

We need to gain a comprehensive understanding of how temperature, climate, and timeframes impact shelf-life outcomes across different applications.

As an example, there are different cuts across these meat products. A pre-cut piece of meat ready to hit supermarket shelves is going to have different climate requirements than a primal cut, such as a lamb shoulder.

So, there’s still a lot of discovery to be made in this space, looking at how these algorithms are developed and how we can maximise shelf-life across the board.

The Solution

MLA had already funded a number of trials using various data loggers available on the market, coming in at $50 to $80 each.

They wanted to find the very best data loggers available to support their new algorithm, looking for the best in terms of usability, training requirements, and the ease of analysing the data through the Shelf-Life Calculator.

Through their initial research, MLA had already determined that this technology would be simple to implement and provide an almost-immediate return on investment.

They just needed the best data loggers available on the market, combined with the best data visualisation tool on the market.

Tracknact’s solution was the Tive data logger, the most reliable hardware we’ve found on the market to date.
Then, partnering with MLA, we’ve adapted the Shelf-Life Algorithm into a simple-to-understand interface, allowing producers to log in and understand their shelf-life constraints at a glance.

What has been achieved

Despite this new Shelf-Life tool still being in development, MLA has unlocked some seriously impressive results already.

So far, they’ve managed to unlock 24/7 data visibility across the participating processors’ cold chains. Not only is this technology easy to implement with one, simple process change but MLA has avoided claims of up to $1,456 per shipment.

That means after just one shipment is saved, the processor will have made a return on their investment.

“Since we started using real-time loggers, temperature abuse claims have reduced to zero.” – Processor A


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