(May 24) When PakSense received its first revenues last spring, the sources were produce suppliers testing the company’s temperature monitors in conjunction with Albertson’s. Now it appears the Boise, Idaho-based manufacturer’s relationship with its hometown retailer is about to pay off in a big way.

Stacia Levenfeld, spokeswoman for Albertson’s LLC, said the retailer is requiring its produce, meat and fish suppliers to use PakSense labels on shipments to distribution centers in Denver; Fort Worth, Texas; Phoenix and Plant City, Fla., that supply more than 350 stores.

“You can’t underestimate how important a relationship with a retail chain is,” said David Baldwin, PakSense vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s very important. Albertson’s has been a big supporter from the beginning when we were in the proof-of-concept stage.”

Traditional temperature monitors are placed atop boxes after trucks have been loaded, but PakSense’s 2-inch 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 flat, adhesive label can fit on or inside a box of produce, anywhere in the stack, instead of riding on top of a shipment. Shippers also can use multiple labels to monitor mixed loads in trucks with different temperature zones.

Mike Smith, president and owner of Nogales, Ariz.-based Sigma Sales Inc., said he was skeptical of the product when his company started using it in shipments to Albertson’s last year.

“Now that we’ve been using it as long as anybody, I have to say it works very well,” he said. “The great thing about it is it’s flexible, and it’s commodity- and temperature-specific.”

Baldwin said the labels cost one-third to half as much as traditional monitors. Smith and Levenfeld said price wasn’t a big issue for shippers because the cost is passed on to Albertsons.

Albertson’s picked PakSense after a year of tests.

“What we found is that we got better quality assurance because we’re monitoring multiple points in the truck instead of just measuring ambient air temperature,” Levenfeld said. “It’s also more cost effective. It was an easy decision that was right for the consumer and the business.”