Measuring Temperatures Along International Supply Chains for Wine

Which organizations can participate?  We seek broad representation of wineries, carriers, importers who are willing to share information with us about their supply chain in exchange for the temperature logging.


What do you expect to learn from this?  To what extremes of temperature is the wine exposed? To what variability? How does the temperature vary from top to bottom of a pallet? Within a container? Within a ship? What parts of the supply chain are the greatest risks? During what times of year? To what extent can temperature extremes be ameliorated by, say, insulating quilts or temperature-controlled containers?


What temperature-recording device do you use?  We have chosen the “iButton” thermochron, part number DS1921G-F5, from Maxim Integrated Products. Each iButton is about the size of a button on a shirt and it can be programmed to wake up and record the time and temperature at regular intervals. It can store 2048 readings, or six months worth at two-hour intervals. Figure 1 shows the iButton and the device we use to retreive its information. You can read more details about the data logger here and here is software to initialize the data logger before shipment (15MB; requires MS Windows).


Do you tamper with product or labeling? No; we only ask that a button-sized data-logger and documentation be inserted in a few cartons of wine, as in Figure 2, before loading into a shipping container. However, you may want to mark the outside of an instrumented carton with a sign saying, for example, “Quality Control”, so
that the cartons can be identified, as in Figure 3.


Are there customs implications regarding data loggers within cartons coming into the US?  Almost certainly not. The most authoritative statement we have in this regard is from a US regional sales representative of one of the largest global container lines, who says “It is the feeling of the experts in my organization that the insertion of [the iButton data logger] will not have customs implications.” This opinion has been confirmed by the import department of a global 3rd party logistics provider, with whom we consulted. However, if you still worry, amend your paperwork to state something like “50 temperature monitored boxes of wine” or “wine in temp monitored boxes”. The sales representative goes on to say that “It is thought that this [modifying the paperwork] is over the top and not required, but also will not have any customs implications to amend the paperwork.”


Is it possible to measure the quality of the wine rather than just the temperature?  This would require special equipment to measure changes in the wine chemistry and it would require tampering with the product and its packaging. We prefer to avoid this. If there is sufficient interest, we may consider suggestions for doing this in the future.


Why are you not using GPS to track the location of wine?  GPS is not practical here as it is blocked by warehouse ceilings, shipping containers, etc.


Can a participant conduct their own experiment within the WSCC project?  Yes, indeed; but we ask that you keep us fully informed so that we can understand what you are doing and how it may affect our readings. In addition, we may want to replicate the experiment on a larger scale with other partners.


What will WSCC do with the data?  WSCC will act as a neutral third party to protect and share the results. We will meet with each participant to help them interpret their data. In addition, they will also be able to see data of others but only in forms that are anonymous or aggregated.


Will there be follow-up work?  There are at least three natural ways to expand this project: Continue it over multiple years; include more regions of consumption; include more wineries in more regions of the world; record more detailed measurements, such as vibration. We have plans in each regard, as long as the project is deemed of value.


How can I find out more?  Contact one of the WSCC country representatives, who will then arrange to meet and answer your questions.