Even as globalization has made the world a smaller place, the physical separation of the different regions still remains an important reality, especially when it pertains to the movement of goods. The greater this physical separation, greater are the odds of the consignment getting damaged.
This is even more true when it relates to the transportation of perishable goods. Hence, efficient cold chains have become an essential part of the modern supply chain to transport vital, sensitive cargo over great distances and through diverse climatic conditions.
For the range of supplies labeled as perishables, particularly pharmaceuticals and food (produces), quality expires with time as they maintain chemical reactions, which can mostly be alleviated with lower temperatures. Cold chain logistics have evolved with the growing demand for temperature-controlled logistics to transport consumable goods over great distances safely.
It takes coordination and time to move a shipment efficiently. Every delay can have negative consequences. To ensure that the loads do not become compromised or damaged at any point during this process, businesses in the food, medical and pharmaceutical industries are increasingly banking on the cold chain.
The challenges of cold chain transportation
In addition to the usual risk elements that plague our regular supply chains, cold chain logistics has unique issues, such as rising freight costs, product sensitivity, and growing regulatory obstacles.
The recent reports of over 12,000 vaccine doses spoiling due to fluctuations in the truck temperature are evidence of some of the main challenges faced by the industry today. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the majority of 21 shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sent to Michigan were unusable as they got too cold during transit.
The incident has, however, brought clarity to the fact that fleet managers need a better way to access and manage real-time information. The need for real-time data to manage deliveries with efficiency and precision is ever increasing. The insights drawn from this data can help fleet managers, drivers, and businesses work together towards the best outcomes.
The numbers linked to food recalls and losses are also staggering. In 2008, a single recall cost the food companies over $500 mn in settlements. Also, over $161 billion worth of losses were reported in 2010 due to food waste. A precise process to track and trace processes with new technologies such as blockchain, IoT, big data and AI can reduce or potentially eliminate waste and recalls. This can be done by ensuring safe and well-prepared supply chain operations, advanced disposal mechanisms for contaminated food batches, and timely deliveries.
The need for supply chain visibility
Supply chain visibility is crucial to both companies and customers today. According to popular research, 94% of customers are more likely to be devoted to a freight company that offers complete supply-chain transparency. Also, about 39% of consumers say they would willingly switch to a more transparent company if offered the chance.
This trend has some big brands implementing technology such as Blockchain to trace and track every activity across their supply chain. Real-time tracking with RFID enables tracking of tagged objects, creates a system of connected devices that continuously transmit data about their location, product condition, and more.
Given the highly dynamic and unique nature of the cold chain challenges, fleet managers require technologies that have fast information processing capabilities. It should also be able to digest streams of data from million sources at the moment and also be agile enough to acclimate to evolving situations.
Digital Twin is a new, powerful software technique built upon in-memory computing. It has recently emerged with the ability to meet real-time data requirements and is cost-effective to implement, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). It helps fleet managers boost their situational awareness by identifying and tackling delivery challenges.
A logistics management system with real-time dashboards, timely reports, and better contextual information can make cold chain management and monitoring easier. Leveraging cloud-based systems equipped with real-time predictive analytics would help identify risk and provide opportunities to improve logistics efficiency.
Reducing cost with real-time cold chain monitoring
A well-run supply chain enhances customer service, saves money, and reduces transit time. The savings don’t come easy, though. They can only be accomplished through some digital transformation in the existing system. It requires some incremental improvement in processes along with a proactive risk-management approach.
Real-time monitoring can help logistics companies eliminate one of the most significant pain points of cold chain logistics – spoilage. Monitoring shipments in real-time and instantly flagging issues such as temperature excursions, hardware/coolant malfunctions, or deviations from handling protocols can help prevent damage in transit.
While reducing spoilage with a better refrigeration system and managing transportation costs with multi-modal shipments is an option, this involves many hidden costs. Compliance mandates, labor, spare parts, weight, and several other factors contribute to the intricacies of maintaining the cold chain shipping costs.
The use of real-time data enables real-time analytics and response. It provides the opportunity to not only prevent cold chain risk but to eliminate it outright. It helps run a reliable and leaner cold chain taking off the weight of process and quality management with automation.
The hybrid combination of all accessible data, constant connectivity, robust monitoring devices, and analytics that support data-driven improvements in logistics operations embodies the pinnacle of cold chain management and monitoring systems. Though small, real-time shipment process intervention and monitoring will be vital to your overall logistics efficiency plan.
Although it is logical to think of cost reductions from the bottom-up, the effort to evolve needs to be top-down. A digital transformation of your legacy system will help support the more extensive landscape for your business if it is used right, as in any tool.
Automate your cold chain logistics with Trigent
With a highly experienced team of technology experts having over decades of experience in TMS solutions, Trigent helps revamp your legacy systems to drive revenue and efficiency. We combine the best disruptive technologies, analytics, and trade intelligence to create custom-made solutions to overcome your supply chain challenges.
We help our customers increase their market value and visibility with seamless integration of the latest technology solutions. Our solutions help you cater to diverse load requirements, optimize routing, market best rates, gather real-time location data, weather forecast & utilization of space, among others.