If you’re going to invest money to meet industry demands for traceability, Peter Mehring thinks you ought to get something in return.

“Why not expand and get a return on the investment you’re making to be compliant with an industry mandate?” Mehring, president and chief executive officer of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intelleflex, said of the Produce Traceability Initiative.

“There’s a real financial benefit. We consider this the latest generation of RFID. We’ve had positive response and a lot of interest.”

Intelleflex introduced three radio frequency identification, or RFID, products in the fourth quarter of 2010: the HMR-9090 handheld reader; the FMR-6000 fixed reader; and the TMT-8500 temperature monitoring tag.

The TMT-8500 combines high sensitivity temperature sensing ability with RFID wireless communications, which means it not only can tell you where your product is, it can tell you how your product is doing.

Mehring said that previous options for temperature monitoring were limited by either cost or functionality.

Low-cost passive monitors store a pallet’s temperature history for the end receiver who ultimately unloads and unpack the products, but the data from such systems supplied no benefit to others in the supply chain.

Unlike the passive products that have to be unloaded to retrieve their data, Mehring said the tags can be read from inside a pallet, providing a more accurate reading of the product’s temperature.

Active loggers do provide temperature data in transit, but those typically come with a higher price tag than passive products, he said.

Mehring said his company’s new tags have the low price of a passive product with the same capability as active monitors.

The result, he said, is that instead of following a “first in, first out” approach to turning inventory, produce companies will have better data about the freshness of their product and reduced shrink.

“Now it’s first expired, first out,” he said.

“You can take advantage of that shelf life information while the product is still fresh enough to use.”

Mehring said temperature monitor tags can cost up to $50, but the TMT-8500 has a base price of $25 (it’s sold cheaper in volume purchases) and lasts for two years.

In short, Intelleflex says its product is better at half the cost.

How is that possible?

Mehring said most RFID providers buy chips from semiconductor manufacturers such as Texas Instruments, but Intelleflex developed its own product, combining its own RFID function, microcontroller and memory with an off-the-shelf temperature sensor.

“There’s one less markup,” Mehring said.

“The chip development allows us to pass along savings as well as better performance.”