How IoT Sensors Help Ensure Freshness and Quality of Perishables

February 25, 2019

Jim-Anderson  By: Jim Anderson
 Sr. Business Manager, Micros, Security & Software 


When you’re handling long-haul transport of perishable goods, such as produce or medications, you want assurance that the products will arrive at their destination safe to consume. Even though the insides of shipping containers are temperature-controlled, there are enough unknowns during a lengthy ride to cause some uncertainties. The internet of things (IoT), however, is transforming a wide range of industries, and cold-chain logistics is no exception. By enabling continuous monitoring and data logging of key environmental factors, IoT solutions are helping companies identify and address issues affecting their supply chain.

Technologies including IoT sensors and RF chips can help bring greater efficiencies into the cold chain while facilitating better quality and less waste along the way. An emerging solution in this space will be on hand at this year’s embedded world conference in Germany. Axzon, a developer of end-to-end industrial IoT sensing solutions, and Maxim have teamed up to create an ultra-low-power IoT sensor with a secure wireless UHF interface. Axzon is currently working to develop a compact commercial RF tag reader for cold-chain applications based on this solution. Maxim will soon have a reference design available that engineers can use to evaluate these technologies for applications involving tracking of equipment or perishables and their environmental conditions. Meanwhile, both companies plan to demonstrate the technology at embedded world.

Freshness and quality of perishable goods during transport IoT sensing technologies provide companies with another tool to help ensure freshness and quality of perishable goods during transport.

“Through innovation as well as strategic partnerships, we are expanding our reach into markets not well served due to the lack of a comprehensive solution with an acceptable ROI. Our latest collaboration enables our customers to experience greater efficiencies and visibility and better quality control throughout the entire supply chain. Our joint solution allows an unprecedented history of each product at the right cost point, a testament to our vision of connecting everything,” said Shahriar Rokhsaz, CEO and president at Axzon.

The IoT sensing solution consists of Axzon’s Xerxes-I configurable sensor and the MAX32660 ultra-low-power Arm® Cortex®-M4 with floating-point unit (FPU) microcontroller. The Xerxes-I sensor provides an on-chip temperature sensor as well as a front-end that detects moisture. The sensor allows two analog ports to connect external transducers to measure pH, strain, gas concentration, and other physical quantities. The MAX32660 is part of Maxim’s DARWIN Generation U MCU family, ideal for engineers who don’t want to compromise on power, performance, or cost for IoT designs. Devices in this family are built with wearable-grade power technology, a massively scalable memory architecture, and advanced embedded security—all in a tiny form factor. The MAX32660 used in this particular application measures just 1.6mm x 1.6mm. Since the MCU features data logging, trend analysis of sensed data, and various application-specific algorithms, it can extend sensing capabilities.

Because the Xerxes-I sensor is paired with an MCU, it does need to run in battery-powered mode. Since the sensor as well as the MAX32660 are so stingy with power consumption, the sensor can, based on the application, be powered by a small coin-cell battery.

At embedded world, February 26 to 28, Maxim will have demos at EBV’s booth (Stand 3A-229) and at Avnet Silica’s booth (Stand 1-370). Axzon will be in Hall 2, Booth 555. We hope to see you at the show!