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IoT addresses the cold realities of cold chain logistics

Ensuring food and drug safety across the supply chain

July 22, 2019

IoT addresses the cold realities of cold chain logistics
The frozen vegetables and dairy products we buy at the supermarket.
The vaccines our kids get at the doctor’s office.
These and many other everyday essentials depend on the reliability of a cold chain, a temperature-controlled supply chain in which a consistent and safe low-temperature range is maintained throughout a product’s transport.
An unbroken cold chain system, which is essential to keep products like these safe to consume, tracks and ensures their quality at every point in the journey, from manufacturer to end user. It involves an uninterrupted series of refrigeration production, storage and distribution activities, equipment and logistics.
New demands make cold chain management more critical than ever
The global food and beverage market is growing 10.3% annually and the demand for cold chain drugs is increasing by 12.7% every year. The food industry is quickly moving into the e-commerce channel, and with more frozen, prepared and fresh foods being purchased online, grocery retailers need to ensure they can maintain the quality and safety of their products during shipment. And with more biopharmaceutical products entering the market, drugs that tend to be sensitive to temperature fluctuations are prompting regulators to request proof of temperatures at every stage of the supply chain.
IoT transforms cold-chain monitoring
Not surprisingly, cold chains can break down due to mechanical breakdowns, traffic delays, human error and even theft. But with IoT-enabled cold chain solutions, issues like these can be addressed in real time and the entire logistics and supply chain infrastructure can respond as a single synchronized ecosystem.
Cold chain logistics empowered by IoT deliver end-to-end visibility of perishable products. Using shipping containers with GPS capabilities or adding RFID sensors to products, pallets or crates makes it possible to measure the temperature, humidity and other variables affecting the cargo during the shipping process. IoT-enabled solutions transmit this data in real time, sending alerts or notifications to drivers and other stakeholders when conditions become compromised. Then, armed with predictive and descriptive analytics, companies can make any necessary adjustments to maintain the integrity of the food and drugs during shipment. IoT sensors can even distinguish between goods that are in transit and those that are being stolen—and activate a “lockdown” to reduce theft.
Not only are problem issues handled in real time, the entire infrastructure reacts as a single unit. If a truck attempts a delivery after hours with cargo that can’t wait overnight, a receiving crew is notified to be on standby—or the truck is re-routed to an available warehouse in the vicinity.
IoT-powered cold chain logistics has brought a new level of safety and cost efficiency to the retail and healthcare industries. To learn more—and check out the specific IoT cold chain solution Ingram Micro has to offer—visit the IoT marketplace. And if you need help finding a solution that’s right for your customers, contact our IoT experts.