Although technology across every industry is constantly innovating and changing, it’s difficult to ignore how it can impact other industries. One such industry, cold chain logistics, has benefited significantly from modern technology. Any industry that relies on temperature-controlled environments (food, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals) requires powerful cold chain technology to be successful in their field. The power of technology can be used to improve safety, efficiency, and reduce costs for any business. But it’s especially useful in running your cold supply chain. Innovative technology is taking over everything from healthcare to retail. Now it’s doing the same thing for cold chain logistics. With the very nature of supply chains changing right now, it’s important to be able to adapt. Here’s how innovative tech can help you manage your cold supply chain.
Time-temperature abuse in the supply chain can have a devastating impact on food products. When food is not stored or transported at the correct temperature, it can end up becoming contaminated and unsafe for consumption. This can lead to serious health problems for consumers, as well as significant financial losses for businesses (not to mention reputation problems). So preventing these issues can be critical to success. That’s why getting refrigeration right is so crucial to success in the cold chain itself. Refrigeration is incredibly important here. It works quite simply: when water evaporates, it absorbs energy from its surroundings and cools them down. This results in refrigeration. Refrigeration uses liquid (freon) to absorb heat, so keeping compressors and everything else in good shape is vital to your success. Using thermometers and temperature sensors—along with a robust maintenance schedule—is the only way to keep your refrigeration units in good, working order.
Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. It’s a part of artificial intelligence that lets computers learn from data. In essence, the computers “learn” using statistical techniques. What makes it ideal for use in the cold chain is how well it can manage inventory. Machine learning systems can help by analyzing purchase orders and delivery times, without much input from humans. That means sending, tracking, and receiving cargo along your cold chain on time, with fewer failure points in between. It can also help detect breaks in the cold chain, rendering it an invaluable tool for managing cold chain logistics in any industry.
Along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, robots can be a key technology to use in your cold chain. For instance, if you desire to move goods/cargo around the warehouse quickly and efficiently—without risking injury to workers—robots can aptly handle the tasks. They’re also useful for monitoring temperature, humidity, and other environmental conditions. This ensures products remain at the correct temperature during storage and transportation. When used in conjunction with other monitoring tools, they can act as a failsafe for detecting equipment breakdowns and other temperature fluctuations along the cold chain. Robots are also uniquely suited to inspecting and repairing equipment, ultimately preventing disruptions. Robots, much like artificial intelligence, should be considered a tool to further your business endeavors and not a replacement for human workers. It’s important to realize this as it can mean the difference between high quality deliveries and products or failure to keep up with the changes in the industry.
Temperature sensors are among the most vital cold chain technologies. Used to monitor the temperature goods in real-time, a temperature sensor can give you vital insight into what’s happening along your cold chain. Using them will help you troubleshoot any problems and identify when things are going wrong—especially when potential time-temperature abuse is involved. If your goods are too cold or too hot, you could face the possibility of damage or replacement. Therefore, having quality temperature information at your fingertips helps you prevent issues before they can even occur. Temperature sensors also give you an insight into how long it takes for your products to reach their final destination, and where any delays may be occurring along the journey. Ultimately, this will help you keep strict tabs in the supply chain and ensure quality along the way. It’s amazing what a little device can do with a simple dye pack and temperature range with which to work.
There are so many types of innovative technologies that can help you manage your cold chain logistics operations. And most of them let you do so in real-time. Real-time monitoring of temperature and humidity can help you get a handle on one of the most dangerous things that can affect sensitive cargo: moisture. It’s critical to know the temperature and humidity of your products at all times. It’s also key to know the real time location of goods. Being able to track the location of your cargo makes it easier to manage and mitigate problems. If there’s an issue with one shipment, it can be isolated immediately and with impunity. Finally, you should know the location of your vehicles, too. Make sure your fleet vehicles l have GPS tracking systems installed so l drivers know their whereabouts at all times. This makes planning routes easier. At the end of the day, using certain types of technology can help reduce costs, increase reliability, help reduce environmental impact, and increase efficiency. And in the end, that leads to better transparency, both in the supply chain and to your valuable customers.