Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is now being used by the Thai orchid-export industry to improve its supply-chain management system.
The technology allows each chain to control its process better and trace the flowers to their origin.
"Since Thailand is the second-largest exporter of orchids, we thought of developing a system that would set a new standard for Thai orchid exports," said Kullaprapa Navanugraha, senior director of the Strategic Programme Management Office Division at the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec).
Developed by Nectec, the prototype of the system will use RFID technology to enable information flow within the supply chain, which will help manage the process better.
Kullaprapa said RFID would be used to gather information from tissue cultures in the laboratory, such as the plant's age; the name of the farm; information from the greenhouse during planting; the lot number and orchid size during packaging; and information gathered during the logistics process.
If there is a problem with the stems, the system will help follow the chain to the origin and find the defective lot, she said.
In the past, customers would reject entire lots if there was a problem, because it was nearly impossible to identify the problem products.
Kullaprapa said the use of RFID technology would avoid such waste. The centre has already completed the adoption of RFID technology for use in supply chains. It is now in the process of developing the database and software, which will allow exporters to track information.
"We hope this new system will help raise the standard of Thai orchid exports through better control of the process and help exporters formulate better marketing plans, reduce costs and add more value," Kullaprapa said.
Apart from RFID, the centre has also developed technology to build what Kullaprapa calls a "smart farm", which will allow orchid farms to control the growing environment.
The farm will use sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, light and pH value.
This information will be used to control the environment.
"Once they know the status of the environment, they can make decisions for the best results," she said.
Information from sensors can also help breeders predict plants' growth patterns and prevent the stems from becoming infected.