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The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the efficiency and efficacy of long distance food, pharmaceutical, and other perishable supply chains. Rather than merely consisting of freezers and freight trains, this supply chain, known as the “cold chain” or temperature-controlled supply chain, is now increasingly incorporating digital software solutions, secure cloud technology, and open architecture.

The result? A smarter cold chain, where monitoring devices can provide managers with live data about temperature and location, mitigating any problems along the chain before they arise.

Why It Works

According to an IHS Markit analysis, the IoT market will grow from 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and 75.4 billion in 2025. By implementing IoT solutions into the cold chain, companies can seamlessly connect with every step in the logistical process, allowing for a host of cost-optimizing benefits.

Managers can monitor and toggle temperature settings as needed, reacting to changes in local climate, damage to packaging, unexpected delays, and even human error. Even in the extremely rare cases where temperature errors are detected but can’t be addressed, the level of insight offered by IoT technologies allows supply-chain managers to act on potential issues sooner, before they turn into major catastrophes. These capabilities significantly cut down on damage and waste, while enhancing distributors’ relationships with their clients.

Food & Drug Safety

A 2011 report from the CDC reported that an estimated 48 million people in the US are affected by food-borne illness every year, with 128,000 cases severe enough to require hospitalization. The situation at every step on a food or drug’s journey is vital for consumers, and any unsafe processes come with some steep penalties.

IoT solutions that build a smart cold chain can change those numbers for the better. Can you imagine a future that doesn’t contain any wasted or damaged drugs or food? That won’t happen without IoT.

New Visibilities

When companies employ IoT upgrades to the cold chain, sensor technology will make locating, monitoring, and addressing errors that were once invisible until the shipment was received by a node or end point on the chain. Previously invisible problems now become visible with cold chain IoT, allowing informed, data-driven decision to be made versus the historic find-and-investigate situation that was suffered by the industry.

This means food, drugs, and other perishable items will reach their final destination fresh, intact, and undamaged. As a result, your business reduces waste, improves efficiency, and enables a more widespread product distribution.

Making the Transition

Bringing IoT into your cold chain business should help you move away from cold-packs and cooling containers and into other areas of fleet and packaged shipping methods for temperature visibility, alerts and notifications, real-time data access, automated report generation, and predicative and descriptive real-time analytics. GPS-based asset tracking and RFID systems can also help make your cold chain more efficient, and a solid IoT solution should be able to handle that for you.

IoT technologies will continue to advance, and companies that are involved in building a smart cold chain are already investing in sensor technology to make their companies more competitive, and deliver food and drugs to consumers in the most efficient way possible. Companies that fail to embrace this enhanced quality in automation to their supply chain will fall behind; early adopters stand to surge ahead.

If temperature control is part of your business we’d love to help you optimize your cold chain process. As pioneers in the IoT industry, Telit has helped hundreds of enterprises develop connectivity solutions to help drive their business forward.

Optimize your cold chain process and drive your business forward. See how Telit can help your company.