“Cold-chain” refers to a supply chain that delivers products and/or materials that will be spoiled or even destroyed if temperatures vary beyond the prescribed range, this can be anything from refrigeration, food ingredients to refrigerated vaccines. As implied with sensitive goods, it can be very costly for companies to redeliver if products are wasted because of environmental breaches in temperature, humidity or large-scale loss. It is also incredibly difficult to identify the responsible who is liable for the mistakes when cargo arrives in unacceptable conditions.

The global cold chain logistics market is larger than most assume, valued at USD 159 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach USD 585 billion by the year 2026. Goes without saying, the cold chain industry has always been a very competitive market for logistics providers, made more challenging by a high-capital investment, stiff temperature standards, and high energy dependency. Furthermore, not only are goods limited to temperature limitations, they’re influenced heavily from government regulations in maintaining quality standards during transit. Thus, making it ever more appropriate for businesses to seek solutions that help streamline their cold chain logistics processes, reduce cost, and reduce loss.

Transporting temperature-sensitive products from bananas to refrigerated medicines is inherently risky. An estimate, by supply chain experts, says it can be worth up to $50 million in the case of pharmaceuticals, compared to $100,000 for standard container loads.

IoT solutions, particularly in logistics, allows businesses to streamline, and automate processes in the supply chain and improve decision making, operational efficiency, and quality control. Over large distances from point A to B a lot can go wrong, but with preventive maintenance it allows the courier to mitigate those risks and sometimes eliminate them before they occur. IoT devices equipped with sensors are easily retrofitted and designed to fully withstand the harsh conditions that couriers often face. Thus, it is also important to not only have IoT devices simply installed. Businesses are also looking for the complete package, which more often than not includes a dashboard portal with simple to use user interfaces, allowing both technical and non-technical individuals to be able to monitor readings – all while being remote. In turn, monitoring can help reduce waste and save up to millions instantly.

Make no mistake, IoT isn’t just encouraged, it is a borderline necessity with vast benefits. Benefits include real-time monitoring, asset lifetime insights, supporting key decisions/actions, increase in efficiency and productivity, reduction of operation cost from less spoiled goods, and long-term savings – as much as several millions annually among many other benefits.

Common IoT applications in cold chain monitoring include:

  • Temperature, humidity and particulate matter monitoring
  • Transit tracking to optimise delivery
  • Reduction of thefts
  • Real-time & remote data access
  • Predictive maintenance

Challenges while using IoT in cold chain logistics:

  • Tracking capabilities (Is it done through GPS, RSSI?)
    • What is WiFi inherits problems
  • Tracking and monitoring in the most remote and hazardous parts of the world
  • IoT device’s functionality in highly congested electrical and radio-requency environments
  • Installation complications, does it require trained professionals?

The Sigfox ecosystem network supports full-scale solutions in one place, and provides real value through both real-time and easily queryable databases. This enables secure device communications and as a result, predictive maintenance allows managers to now eliminate problems before they occur in their supply chain processes. Sigfox provides tracking and specialised data analytics with full transparency to assets, anytime and anywhere across the world. With multi-changing environments it is easy to lose control, both with the goods and handling of goods.

Curious about Sigfox’s network coverage? https://www.sigfox.com/en/coverage
Curious about IoT devices useful for cold chain logistics? https://connectedinventions.com/all-devices/

General Cold Chain Monitoring https://trustedglobal.com/tracking/cold-chain-monitoring/

Understanding the role of IoT in cold chain management: https://www.bbntimes.com/technology/understanding-the-role-of-iot-in-cold-chain-logistics

Building a cold chain management IoT solution

Global use case, cold chain management: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14yP8dOdY5g&t=7s