Needless to say, logistics is a key element in supply chain management. When products or goods are delivered in a temperature-controlled environment, operators need to rely on cold chain logistics, which is set to be a growing market.Needless to say, logistics is a key element in supply chain management. When products or goods are delivered in a temperature-controlled environment, operators need to rely on cold chain logistics, which is set to be a growing market.
Cold chain is the process of moving manufactured products from the production facility to the retailer or end user in a temperature-controlled, generally cold environment. “Once a temperature-sensitive product is manufactured, that product may be stored in a warehouse, shipped in a truck, train or on an airplane, and then stored in a subsequent warehouse prior to reaching the retailer and consumer,” said a blogpost by Vu360 Solutions. “Ensuring that the product remains in an environmentally controlled setting and maintaining the product at its required temperature throughout the entire supply chain is the basis of cold chain management.”
According to the post, a large portion of goods moving around the globe require cold chain management to prevent spoilage. “The agricultural industry and the food chain present difficult challenges which require complex cold chain management. Fresh and frozen foods must maintain at a variety of temperatures to prevent the food from spoiling in very different environments such as warehouses, manufacturing facilities, fields and trucks,” it said. “Lack of cold chain controls and food spoilage causes buyers to reject the shipments. The farmer, distributor or manufacturer then lose the value of the entire shipment. Tragically, lack of cold chain controls and food spoilage also leads to severe illness and even death.”
The post further points out the pharmaceutical industry is also dependent on a complex but secure and reliable cold chain to maintain the value of their products and brands. “Improper or ineffective cold chain controls cause temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals lose efficacy when administrated or worse yet, various chemical reactions can take place in certain medications rendering them not only ineffective, but toxic and dangerous. Pharmaceutical companies are unavoidably the target of lawsuits. Proper cold chain management helps ensure that medications reach patients with the maximum efficacy, minimizing liability from ineffective medications,” it said.
The benefits of cold chain logistics, coupled with high demand, are fueling the market. According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the global cold chain market size is estimated to reach US$447.5 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate of 15.1 percent during the forecast period. “Cold chain solutions have become an integral part of supply chain management for transportation and storage of temperature-sensitive products,” the report said.
Another growth driver for cold chain is advances in technology, especially in the form of IoT. “With the need for greater control over the cold chain, end-to-end visibility of perishable products has become ever more critical. This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) comes in,” said a separate blogpost by IoT Innovation.
According to the post, using shipping containers with GPS capabilities or adding RFID sensors to products, pallets or crates can measure the temperature, humidity, shock, vibrations and other parameters of cargo during the shipping process. “IoT-enabled solutions can transmit this data in real-time, sending alerts or notifications should conditions become compromised. Then, armed with predictive and descriptive analytics, companies can make any necessary corrections to maintain the integrity of food and drugs throughout the shipping process,” it said.
While companies are already achieving the competitive benefits that come with integrating IoT with cold chain logistics, there remains much potential for further improving visibility and control of perishable products once they leave the lab or farmstead, the post said. “To reach this potential will require an intelligent platform that can collect, manage and transmit data in real time across many devices, sensors, and systems,” it said.