How IoT is Revolutionizing the Cold Chain

Posted by on January 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM Cheryle Custer  
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Hands in protective gloves holding Liquid nitrogen cryo tube.jpgCold chains are distribution infrastructures for temperature-sensitive items such as fresh foods, medicines, and chemicals. Cold chains are a vital process in our connected, global infrastructure and allow fresh fruits and vegetables from a diverse range of countries and climates to be shipped around the world, allow vaccines to arrive still potent, and chemicals to be safely shipped. A single cold chain infrastructure usually has three parties of interest: the manufacturers of the temperature-sensitive items; shipping companies that control the items in transit; and retailers such as restaurants, grocery stores, and pharmacies. IoT monitoring is ideal for regulating and reporting real-time temperature data for grocery store, pharmaceutical, and restaurant shipping companies that must comply with manufacturer and end-customer requirements.

Cold Chain Challenges And Solutions

Cold chains must keep items at consistent temperatures from the time they are shipped to the moment they are in the hands of the end user. If a temperature-sensitive item is ruined by abnormal temperatures, the blame will often fall on shipping companies. If a grocery shipping company delivers a shipment of rotten produce, not only will they not get paid by the retailer, but they may also have to pay a penalty. In a worse-case-scenario, a grocery shipping company can face legal action, lose their clients, and suffer from a damaged reputation. Before IoT, shipping companies had no easy way to track and control the temperature of their cargo, leaving food and medicine vulnerable to fluctuations in temperature. With IoT, temperature data can be tracked and controlled, and alerts can notify responsible parties so that immediate action can be taken.

Real Time Alerts For Sensitive Items

Precise IoT monitoring reduces cold chain waste and contamination across the entire chain. Cold chain items such as fresh food, medicine, and chemicals are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. And for certain volatile chemicals and vaccines, changes of a few degrees can render them useless. Without immediate action, contaminated temperature sensitive items can be ruined in transit or, even worse, develop and spread harmful bacteria to consumers. The best chance to save food, medicine, and chemical shipments is having detailed, up-to-the minute information on-hand. IoT monitoring systems can send email and text alerts to shipping operators if temperatures fluctuate past a certain threshold. With IoT, it’s not only possible to remotely monitor and receive alerts about temperature, but you can also control the temperature in the cargo hold.

Clear Accountability Across Cold Chains

Concrete, real-time temperature data also protects shipping companies from being accused of delivering spoiled goods when it’s not their fault. With temperature information on hand, shipping companies can provide detailed temperature compliance data to manufacturers and retailers if shipments are called into question. This information eliminates the back and forth of who’s to blame, and gives shipping companies relevant information to optimize their processes.

The job of tracking isn’t over when shipments reach the store. Even grocery stores and restaurants can utilize IoT so their perishable foods are always in the correct temperature range for safe consumption. Restaurant managers and owners can set up custom alerts so that if a fridge goes out in the middle of the night, they are ready to take action and save their perishable foods.

Want to find out how IoT monitoring makes your cold chain more accountable and effective? Contact Aeris today to find your entrance into IoT.

Topics: IoT, sensors, cold chain