Four Reasons Your Cold Chain Needs Real-Time In-Transit Visibility

May 28, 2019

April 29, 2024


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Every year, millions of dollars are lost due to in-transit damages and delays in the global cold chain. That's why many manufacturers and distributors of perishable products are turning to real-time tracking solutions to identify and eliminate supply chain issues. Below, we review four of the biggest reasons why it's essential to maintain real-time visibility into the location and condition of your in-transit cold chain products. 

1. Eliminate In-Transit Damages

In-transit issues such as temperature excursions and humidity spikes can be disastrous for sensitive, perishable products. For example, many pharmaceutical products need to be maintained within precise environmental bounds or risk being unsaleable upon arrival. Traditionally, many cold chain shippers have relied on passive temperature loggers to ensure quality. However, these logging devices cannot provide any real-time insight into the in-transit condition of the goods, meaning that they cannot help the shipper solve the problem before the damage is done.

With real-time, always-connected sensors, it becomes possible to get notified as soon as potential problems occur. If an HVAC system malfunctions, the supply chain manager can get an immediate alert and call the carrier to resolve the problem, instead of waiting until arrival to discover the damage.  In fact, for one valuable pharmaceutical shipment, a temperature excursion alert saved the manufacturer over a million dollars worth of goods. Real-time visibility into the condition of temperature-sensitive goods enables the shipper to identify and eliminate potential sources of in-transit damage before it's too late.

2. Reduce Delays

While ensuring acceptable environmental conditions is important, avoiding shipping delays is often even more vital. For some products, delays can mean costly fees and unhappy customers, while for other products, an unexpected delay in shipping or storage can render the entire consignment unusable. For example, some medical products have strict half lives, and if they don't make it to the patient in time, they lose their effectiveness. Similarly, many specialty food and beverage products suffer losses in quality for every day in which they are exposed to harmful environmental conditions (such as waiting on a cold dock or hot tarmac).

Because of the time-critical nature of many cold chain shipments, shippers rely on real-time tracking to identify potential delays and implement countermeasures before it's too late. If the shipper receives a notification that their shipment is stopped in a single location for too long, or likely to miss its ETA, they can warn the end customer or make other arrangements in advance.

3. Improve Customer Service

With improved visibility into exactly where shipments are and how they are doing, manufacturers and distributors are empowered to deliver a superior customer experience. Instead of finding out about damaged product from the customer, the shipper can leverage real-time tracking technology to identify harmful conditions as soon as they occur, and potentially resolve these issues before the product is destroyed. Similarly, the shipper can warn the customer if a critical shipment is likely to arrive late, and can expedite a replacement to mitigate any downstream issues that could result from the delay.

4. Implement Data-Driven Optimization

Ultimately, access to real time data gives the shipper the information they need to make informed, data-driven decisions throughout the supply chain. In the past, much of supply chain management has been relegated to hunches and guesswork, and a lot of putting out fires when things don't go as planned (as they seldom do). But armed with comprehensive location and condition data, the supply chain manager can optimize with a quantitative, strategic mindset.

For example, if past data suggests that temperature excursions tend to occur more often at a particular location, the shipper can change the route used for those shipments. Similarly, if critical product arrives late more often when shipped with one carrier than with another, the shipper can use this data to make more informed choices regarding which carrier to use on which lanes going forward. There are a whole host of data-driven optimization methodologies that become available as soon as the shipper gains access to that critical in-transit data.

When it comes to high-value perishable products, it is imperative to maintain visibility into exactly where shipments are, and what environmental conditions they are experiencing, throughout the supply chain. To learn more about how real-time tracking can keep you in the loop on your cold chain, request a trial with Tive today.

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