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RFID gives Thai shrimp exporter an edge with quick traceability for 100 products.

A trio of Thai software and radio frequency identification (RFID) companies--IE Technology, Silicon Craft Technology and FXA--has joined with a Thai shrimp exporter, Chanthaburi Frozen Food, in a pilot project to make use of RFID in frozen food quality control.

It is said to be the first attempt by anyone in Thailand's large frozen shrimp export industry to adopt RFID technology for food traceability purposes. The project, which aims to give an advantage to Thai shrimp exporters in face of global competition, is being subsidized by funding from the National Innovation Agency.

IE Technology is providing the RFID tags and terminals. Silicon Craft Technology supplies the RFID chips embedded inside the RFID tags, and FXA Company provides the software for traceability. The project to install RFID technology in two plants, Chanthaburi Frozen Food and CP Frozen Food, is worth around 14.6 million baht ($481,000).

Ronarit Prachet, assistant plant manager, said it is the high volume of production that is driving the company to implement RFID to facilitate the entire production process and traceability system. Chanthaburi produces 50 to 60 tons a day--about 10,000 packages--and deals with many suppliers from around 20 farms for its 100 export items.

RFID has been deployed to monitor frozen-shrimp safety at every step along the production line, from raw material arriving at the factory gate, to the packaging and storage of finished products.

"At the end of the production process, the barcode number on every package of our finished products can be used for tracking. I can know immediately where the shrimps came from, which farm and when," commented Ronarit.

The company had previously used a manual traceability system on the production line, but that could not trace products immediately--it usually took a day. Moreover, the manual system was prone to error because it had less accuracy than an electronic system like RFID. The production line is very complex, Ronarit said, with constant changes based on orders and numerous raw material components in varying sizes.

To effectively implement RFID for traceability, the plant first has to select suppliers and generate supplier codes for them. Once raw material arrives at the plant, the first step is weighing the shrimp and recording details of their farming, including the pond and date of harvesting. Then comes the sizing process and the removal of heads, followed by peeling and boiling, steaming and freezing.

15 Terminals Already Online

The plant has implemented 15 sets of RFID terminals connected to the local server, with links to the head office server in Bangkok. Weerasak Jetpipattanapong, assistant managing director of the marketing department, said the system allows the company's executives in Bangkok to do real-time monitoring and trace the entire process easily. The company can also monitor the plant's yield and employees' productivity, which can be used to improve efficiency.

Weerasak said the next step is to implement RFID in the other plants of the group. Chanthaburi Frozen Food is part of the Patana Group's frozen seafood export business, which also includes Phatthana Seafood, Chanthaburi Seafood and Phatthana Frozen Food.

The group's products are shipped to a large number of customers in countries ranging from Japan and Australia to the United States, Canada and European Union member states. Last year, its revenue was eight billion baht ($242 million), and the goal this year is to top 10 billion baht ($330 million).
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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Next Article:Wild thing about wild shrimp: better for heart than farmed.

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