'cool supply chain the ultimate aim'

Controlling temperatures in the cold chain

Controlling temperatures in the cold chain

Milton Keynes, UK: The Internet of Things is opportunity to transform warehouse temperature control but operators need to consider the whole of the cold chain, says Jason Kay, chief commercial officer, IMS Evolve, writing in September’s Cold Chain News.

To achieve this, operators’ one off Internet of Things pilots must first be evolved into broader, more strategic deployments that consider all parts and processes of the cold chain, he says.

Jason Kay, chief commercial officer at IMS Evolve

Jason Kay, chief commercial officer at IMS Evolve

“Managing temperatures throughout the cold chain is no easy task. Within the food retail industry, for example, there are multiple issues to contend with that have traditionally made it more convenient to chill all refrigerator units to the lowest temperature required by the most susceptible food product: meat.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) poses an exciting opportunity for organisations to transform this process across the entire cold chain. But to achieve this, their one off IoT pilots must first be evolved into broader, more strategic deployments that consider all parts and processes of the cold chain as a whole.

“From the warehouse, during transportation, right through to the store, food safety is of course the primary consideration which, coupled with supply chain complexity, has made it ineffectual for organisations to set refrigerators at the correct temperature for the produce within each individual unit. However, the result has been an annual over-cool of millions of degrees, not to mention compromised quality of some food produce, such as certain dairy products.

“In unlocking the ability to access and monitor billions of points of data from the entire supply chain infrastructure, including legacy equipment, IoT enables a real-time, all-encompassing visibility of the supply chain. Using an IoT software layer to tap into data, and by integrating it into environmental control systems, each machine within a storage location can be automatically set at the optimum temperature.

“As a result, not only is energy consumption reduced, but there is even the potential for businesses to relieve pressure from the National Grid using demand side response measures. What’s more, food quality is actually enhanced and food wastage minimised. Currently within the UK, 1.9 million tonnes (Wrap data) of food is lost within the supply chain alone. Monitoring and controlling temperatures in the warehouse and beyond improves waste management by preventing even the slightest variance in optimal temperature that can affect the longevity and quality of food produce.

“This model also provides a competitive advantage; the flexibility and confidence to not over-cool products can improve quality, which provides a better experience for the food retailer’s end customer. While refrigeration systems in-store might be considered the most important element of the cold chain in achieving this, the steps before are undoubtedly just as significant. By getting the process right across the whole cold chain, over-cooling could soon be a thing of the past.

“Through the strategic deployment of IoT, organisations have the opportunity to integrate real-time data across all components of the cold chain, aligning the elements to directly complement the core business purpose. The result is the highest quality product offering to the consumer, and a cost-effective supply chain model that eradicates stock loss to the benefit not only of the business, but to wider social and economic concerns.”