(June 22) Traditionally, temperature monitors have been placed atop boxes after trucks have been loaded and are ready to hit the road.

PakSense, a two-year-old company from Boise, Idaho, thinks it has a better idea.

“If you can measure the air above the load, that’s interesting, but it doesn’t tell you what’s happening inside the load,” said PakSense president and chief executive officer Eric Larson.

Tom Jensen, then a product design consultant in the tech industry, started developing the product in 2002 after an executive with a meatpacking company told him there was no effective way to track the temperature of beef shipments. Jensen founded PakSense two years later.

After months of trials, PakSense’s first product — the TXi label — was rolled out in April. Larson said the thin, 2-inch label is much smaller and cheaper than what the competition offers.

The TXi label has encapsulated a memory board, light emitting diode, lithium battery, circuit board and a customized graphic label into a product the size of a sugar packet. That means the label can fit inside a box of produce, anywhere in the stack, instead of riding on top of a shipment.

The tiny product can be placed in or on a box at any point in the process, including the field. It measures temperature in one-minute increments and has enough memory to store a month’s worth of data.

The labels are customized to customers’ minimum and maximum temperature specifications, and the LEDs change from green to amber if those barriers are breached.

Larson said a starter pack of 50 labels and one reader — a battery-powered, portable device that downloads data from the labels — costs $600. The readers can be reused for future shipments, and Larson said customers can reduce future label costs based on volume.

The labels are disposable, which means there is no return shipping expense.

Each label’s data can be downloaded into a spreadsheet in Fahrenheit or Celsius. If a product varies from its acceptable temperature range, the readout will show the customer when it happened. Finally, the label uses collected time and temperature data to estimate the product’s remaining shelf life.

Hahn said Sysco had used Sensitech’s Ryan recorders for years. Those monitors sit on top of a truckload and print readouts onto a paper scroll. Hahn said one advantage of PakSense’s TXi label is that the data — which works with Microsoft Office and Excel — can easily be e-mailed to suppliers, customers, trucking companies and others.