7 ways IoT improves the cold chain

The Internet of Things or IoT has been creating digital transformations across multiple industries in the last 20 years. Tech disruption within supply chains is included in this and is growing up by the minute.

Over 34 billion devices are connected to the internet currently, and there are asset tracking solutions that have influenced over $1.9 trillion worth of supply chain assets currently.

Businesses are leveraging and using technology to create data transparency and forecasting shipments, as well as being able to answer questions such as “are my shipments at risk?”, and “when will my products arrive?”

Though tech disruption was resisted at first, companies in the supply chain and logistics sector have been able to embrace and increase visibility and create transparency across their processes, creating insights that have helped decrease damage and waste, and creating more revenue and more effective operations and processes.

These are the 7 different ways IoT enabled devices can improve cold chain logistics:

1) Improved Operations
2) Real-Time Asset Management
3) Improved Client Service and Relationships
4) Accurate Forecasting and Inventory
5) Improved Risk Management
6) Connected Stakeholders and Networks
7) New Revenue Streams

IoT has the potential to not only provide greater data transparency across supply chains but allows for decision-makers to execute decisions and receive data gathered about their produce or products in real-time, and be warned of risks or losses, and help prevent damage before it happens. IoT can not only create data that warns of potential risk but also informs for a smooth shipment, creating reports of temperature control and humidity and ethylene levels within the cold storage units.

Softwares with real-time alerts and reports help businesses overall manage partner and customers relationships, and strengthen them, allowing for customers to feel assured that their shipments are operating and being moved along as securely as possible. This is set to only grow and become more effective long term and completely transform the global cold chain.

1) Improved Operations

Cold chain management does not only offer tracking of temperature monitoring solutions anymore. There are sensors that can provide breakdowns and reports on humidity, ethylene and carbon monoxide levels for produce, and supply chain companies integrating this IoT solution and machine learning can definitely gain an edge over the competition and can help build the strength of the business overall.

2) Real-Time Asset Management

Barcodes and Ad-hoc scanning was the standard way of tracking produce across the cold chain. GPS sensors have also been developed to be able to create a more transparent supply chain, offering an overview of where goods are located in the supply chain, from start to finish. Cold chain monitoring logistics managers can use data transported via cloud onto their devices to alert and provide actionable, real-time data and insights into environmental conditions, no matter where the shipment is located.

If a potential risk occurs, managers can take action to prevent it. This transparency gives them much better control over all shipments throughout the entire supply chain.

3) Improved Customer Service and Relationships

Accurate data is critical to the success of the supply chain. IoT devices have created censored tracking of fresh produce and have helped create transparency. Fresh produce being temperature sensitive needs to be tracked carefully.

The supply chain contributes heavily to the success of the marketplace, IBM stating that up to 65% of a company’s value for their products comes from the suppliers.

Customers should pay attention and be educated on where their fresh produce comes from, from farm-to-fork. Building a supply chain that is transparent about its sourcing creates better business and brand loyalty overall.

4) Accurate Forecasting and Inventory

IoT smart sensors, when implemented correctly, can create a monitoring system that can track not only more accurately, but with better margins and overhead than humans managing and monitoring the supply chain alone. Previous cold chain tech required manual scanning and removal at checkpoints, but wireless automation reduces human error and provides better tracking across the shipments.

In the past, if there was a scan missed, all produce and data would be lost, and at risk for damaged goods and a backed-up supply chain, and broken audit trail which could lead to further liabilities.

IoT allows all tracking from the comfort of one’s smartphone or computer, allowing all shipments to be accounted for. Losses can be significantly reduced. Trends and accurate forecasts can be created to ensure quality shipments and create more revenue.

5) Improved Risk Management

There will always be uncontrollable risks such as weather and unpredictable external issues that come up across the supply chain. Travelling across the sea and deserts will always put produce at risk with excessive heat or weather, especially during specific times of the year.

This is why having the correct IoT technologies and analytics on a platform allows for accurate live data that ensures all those overseeing the products across the chain to rest easy knowing all is being monitored and as a result, maintaining quality. If an event should occur, they are notified and can take action before it is too late.

Data intelligence and AI is the future, and even currently the solution that can expose and resolve risks and provide further opportunities, allowing all supply chain companies to make better decisions.

6) Connected Stakeholders and Networks

Consumer demand for produce is increasing, with the global population growing, as well as quality demand increasing. All carriers across supply chain management, including air cargo, delivery trucks need to remain transparent and connected.

Real-time data is the solution for all supply chain collaboration, and more and more cold chain companies are investing it into their operations to deliver high-quality produce and reduce their losses. All data can be centralised and reported to stakeholders and executive management to ensure that all processes are operating with maximum efficiency.

7) New Revenue Streams

Speed and accuracy are critical components and goals of companies operating within the supply chain. They always look at how to decrease time spent in the supply chain and provide accurate reports of the departure and arrival of produce. Data and analytics can create a transparent overview of time taken from harvest to market, and provide insights on how it can be improved.

Data can improve a businesses reaction time to risk by at least 41%, and can even increase delivery speed up to 4x than without it, according to studies shown. Incorporating IoT and the correct software can create more profitability and return on investment.

Understanding trends will lead to new and unexplored efficiencies overall. With current losses of at least 35 billion a year, there is, and always will be room for improvement.

Conclusion

Supply chains have been showing interest and are open to disruption and risk reduction that can be offered by implementing IoT and tech within their operations. It not only drives profitability, but a transparent supply chain builds better partner relationships, overall brand loyalty and profitability.

Adding IoT integrations within the supply chain to monitor, track, and analyse all deliveries and logistics will allow for all shipments to arrive on time, and in the best condition possible. This will only grow and develop as IoT and AI does.

PostHarvest can help you implement and guide you towards creating a more efficient and cost-effective supply chain.

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