One of the new products on show at the AIPIA World congress in Amsterdam in November, was Cleantech’s Digital Temperature Indicator (DTI), an irreversible temperature label with visual and digital indication, integrated with a passive RFID or NFC transponder.
Cleantech and Beyond, a startup based in Thailand, is a deep-tech university spin-off specializing in advanced materials. It has developed the DTI, to enable temperature-tracking at item-level and presents the status in both visual and wireless digital formats without any need of a battery. When an item is exposed to temperatures above a threshold point during the transportation or storage, the status of the indicator irreversibly changes (both visually and digitally).
The sensor element continuously functions even during the ‘off’ state of the RFID/NFC IC (for example, when no readers are present). This means it does not require a battery, power supply, or RF energy from an interrogator. With the irreversible status change, the DTI performs as a 1-bit temperature data logger by itself.
The core technology of the DTI is based on a patent-pending thermos-responsive material technology explained Dr Pichaya Pattanasattayavong, assistant professor at Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC) and co-founder of Cleantech and Beyond. The newly formulated material undergoes an irreversible change when the temperature exceeds a threshold. The formulations can be customised for different threshold points as well as to match the specifications of different RFID/NFC chips.
Apiwat Thongprasert, CEO and co-founder of the company say the DTI has been developed with sustainability in mind, reducing unnecessary waste and ensuring the delivery of quality products, which are crucial in food, pharmaceutical and life science industries.
Some RFID tags which are integrated with electronic data-logging devices and equipped with sensors need a battery or continuous power source. While visual-based time-dependent indicators must be visually inspected. The information cannot be automatically linked to a digital network.
“The DTI is developed to extend the use of passive RFID/NFC labels to track and ensure the quality of temperature-sensitive products at the item level. The indicator combines the advantages of two technologies, passive RFID/NFC labels and time-temperature indicators,” added Dr Pattanasattayavong. The indicated status can be visually inspected by operators/users and digitally and wirelessly read through an RFID/NFC interrogator. The cost effective device is designed to be fully compatible with the existing RFID/NFC infrastructure and applications with minimal modifications.
The DTI offers the ability to track the ambient temperature of an item during transportation, storage, and use, without the need of batteries. The sensing part is designed to be compatible with the existing RFID/NFC label production and infrastructure. It is assembled as a part of a conventional RFID/NFC smart label and is small, thin, flexible and can be placed or integrated with item-level packaging, suitable for one-time use and disposable. The technology embraces intelligent packaging for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics or other products requiring temperature control.
Besides tracking temperature-sensitive products, the DTI can also be applied in process control and maintenance applications, such as for verifying that items pass high-temperature sterilization or thermal treatment process or for detecting and preventing overheating in mechanical systems, electrical devices, power electronics and solar panels.