5 Ways IoT Solutions Can Improve Cold Chain Logistics
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5 Ways IoT Solutions Can Improve Cold Chain Logistics

By David Madden
Founder and President, Container Exchanger

5 Ways IoT Solutions Can Improve Cold Chain Logistics

Cold chain logistics spending is on the rise as demand increases for temperature-sensitive items like food and medicine. In fact, spending in North America is expected to reach 4.7 billion by the year 2022. With longer shipment times and increased spending, cold chain logistics companies are looking for new ways to ensure the quality of their products. Estimates show 20 percent of drugs are ruined or considered unusable due to cold chain malfunction. And food waste continues to be an even bigger problem as companies continue to throw out large quantities of food products due to issues with cold chain logistics.

But keeping food and medicine safe for public consumption all starts in the supply chain. Improving cold chain logistics can reduce food waste by US$ 270 billion (in value) of what is estimated to be a $1.5 trillion problem by 2050.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way cold chain logistics companies transport and distribute their products, limiting the amount of food and drug waste. If you work in this industry, learn how the IoT can improve your approach to cold chain logistics.

1. Accessing Temperature Data in Real-Time

Cold chain logistics comes with plenty of challenges. A slight shift in temperature, airflow or humidity can render an entire shipment of goods unsuitable for public consumption, which in turn can deprive entire communities of essential food and medicine, damage the environment, harm your company’s reputation and hurt your company’s bottom line.

To maintain the quality of your goods and ensure they’re safe for public consumption, use remote digital thermostats to record, log and transmit the temperature of your products in real-time. You’ll always know the temperature of your products, passing this information along to your customers and shareholders for more supply chain transparency.

You can also program these smart thermostats to send an alert or notification if your products dip below a certain temperature. If the temperature starts to fall, you can alert the driver or cold chain logistics manager to avoid a catastrophe.

Without this technology, cold chain logistics managers would have to manually record the temperature of the shipment and report back their findings. This often meant standing inside the cooler or freezer, which can lead to a whole new set of challenges and potential hazards such as changes in temperature and possible cross-contamination. 

2. Real-Time Shipment Tracking for More Visibility

Thanks to the rise of the IoT, you can also track your shipping containers in real-time, so you always know if your temperature-sensitive items are in the right place. The longer your products are on the move, the higher the chances of a cold chain logistics malfunction. If your products are delayed for any reason, you will be the first to know so you can take extra precautions to make sure your products arrive at their destination at the right temperature.

3. Increased Product Security

When your customers are physically ingesting your products, product safety should be of the utmost importance. In addition to monitoring the location and temperature of your products, you need to make sure your products haven’t been tampered with in some way. To prevent these kinds of issues, you can attach tamper-evident alarms to your products to make sure they haven’t been opened or contaminated. If someone tries to open or mess with your products, these remote sensors will alert you immediately, so you can take action and prevent them from reaching consumers.

Your customers will also have peace of mind when they receive your products knowing they haven’t been opened or contaminated along the way. They will see the tamper-evident alarm and know that you’ve taken every precaution to keep your products and customers safe.

4. Ensure Lasting Freshness

New technology is also improving the shelf life of temperature-sensitive products like produce. Companies like Apeel Sciences have introduced a new invisible, edible coating that slows down the rate of water evaporation that causes produce to degrade, while still allowing for the natural exchange of gases–unlike wax coatings that can change the taste and quality of produce. This can help you make the most of your temperature-sensitive shipments, ensuring they stay fresh long after they’ve been picked from the field.

New advanced imagery systems can also analyze the freshness of your shipments without damaging your products in any way. Hyperspectral cameras emit a particular spectrum of light that shows the chemical composition of the produce. Without this technology, cold chain logistics managers would have to feel the produce or cut it open to make sure it’s fresh, damaging the item and taking it out of the supply chain. Thanks to this new technology, you won’t have to ruin your products just to make sure they’re still fresh.

5. Less Room for Human Error

The more your employees have to manually inspect your products, the higher the chances of human error. Without the IoT, there’s always a chance your employees may misread the temperature of your products, accidentally mishandle or contaminate your products or change the temperature of the storage container. Your employees could change the temperature of your storage containers or refrigerated trucks just by opening the door and walking inside.

The IoT helps you limit the number of times your employees physically interact with your products, lowering the chances of a cold chain logistics malfunction

Cold chain logistics will become increasingly important in the years ahead as companies ship and distribute their products to new markets. Food and drug waste continue to be a pressing concern here in the U.S. and abroad.

Thanks to the IoT, you can record and review the location, freshness, and temperature of your products remotely without having your employees physically inspect these items. Attach remote sensors, trackers and tamper-evident alarms to your shipping containers to make sure your products reach their destination intact. You won’t have to worry about sending as much food to the local landfill or losing vital medicine. Improve your bottom line with the IoT for cold chain logistics.

About the Author:

David Madden
David Madden, Founder, and President of Container Exchanger. His passion and business is to save companies money through the use of used reusable and repurposed industrial packagings such as plastic and metal bulk containers, gaylord boxes, bulk bags, pallets, IBC totes, and industrial racks. 

He holds an MBA as well as a certificate from Daimler Chrysler Quality Institute for completion of six-sigma black belt training.

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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this insight piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the IndraStra Global.