HomeResourcesBlogThe impact of telematics on the efficiency and compliance of the cold chain
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The impact of telematics on the efficiency and compliance of the cold chain

By Verizon Connect March 3, 2023

The cold chain industry is growing rapidly and shows no sign of slowing down. Cold chain systems are crucial to the growth of global trade in perishable products and to the worldwide availability of food and health supplies

What is cold chain and cold chain logistics?

The “cold chain”, or specifically a temperature-controlled supply chain, includes refrigerated production, storage and distribution. And not only does it require specialized equipment such as temperature-controlled trailers to function, cold chain also relies on a series of refrigerated activities to constantly keep products at the correct low-temperature range, making it a complicated industry for shippers and trucking companies alike.

Demands and expectations faced by cold chain providers

This host of demands is putting the heat on cold chain logistics providers and distributors to promote efficiency, speed delivery and ensure product integrity. Rising consumer expectations for fresher, healthier food means decreased processing, shorter shelf life and increased temperature sensitivity. Additionally, many pharmaceutical and biotechnology products require transport using temperature-controlled systems to keep their therapeutic properties.1 This environment not only requires more transport versatility and vigilance to promote quality and safety—it also substantially increases the cost of a ruined shipment. 

At the same time, cold chain operators face the same challenges confronting the supply chain as a whole, including truck driver and capacity shortages, and want to place an increased emphasis on meeting sustainability goals. These challenges can have a particularly big impact on a refrigerated fleet, which requires capital-intensive investment, specially trained drivers and substantial energy consumption, and involves increased liability and heightened inspection risk. 

Integrated telematics and asset tracking technology for trailers can help cold chain logistics providers and distributors tackle these challenges head-on. By providing near-real time visibility for trailers and other assets, near-real time monitoring of temperature and other key metrics, and on-demand communication with truck drivers, asset tracking solutions boost cold chain efficiency, delivery speed and product safety for the long haul. 

How telematics supports cold chain management

By quickly and easily installing small, mountable GPS tracking devices, it’s possible to seamlessly monitor and track trailers and other assets critical to cold chain operations via a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Here are five ways these solutions deliver temperature-sensitive products where they need to go, safely and efficiently: 

  1. Gain better visibility. The cornerstone of cold chain management efficiency is information. First and foremost, you need to know where your trailers, refrigerated vans and other assets are and where they’ve been. An asset tracking solution gives you full asset visibility in near real-time, including location, current status and usage history. 

Whether you have dozens, hundreds or thousands of powered or non-powered assets of various makes, models and manufacturers, you can track them on a single web-based dashboard that consolidates data, clusters multiple assets and offers fast searching or tag filtering. 

That means you can easily locate the closest available trailer for the right job. Equally critical for cold chain, you can track trailers through the crucial last mile of delivery route, and verify that there’s space on the receiving dock to stage and load products in an appropriate temperature-controlled environment.

  1. Monitor trailer temperature and status. Asset tracking is more than knowing where your trailers are—it’s knowing how they’re doing on a broad range of key indicators. Using status updates and automated alerts, fleet managers can monitor temperature data, reefer status, door closure and movement, receive harsh driving alerts, and more. With these near-real time metrics, you can be confident the temperature-sensitive food and healthcare products you’re transporting remain at the proper temperatures throughout the trip. In cases where temperatures move out of safe ranges, you can take immediate action –helping to prevent or mitigate financial loss. 

In addition, remote temperature monitoring and control allows you to improve fuel utilization. It also reduces the likelihood that drivers will turn off the reefer to save fuel, thus decreasing spoilage and losses. 

  1. Understand and improve utilization. Asset tracking software can give you a big-picture understanding of how often your trailers and other assets are being used—or sitting idle—across geographic locations. The ability to identify equipment with low ROI helps you make informed decisions about renting or selling underperforming assets or whether you should deploy them elsewhere. Utilization software can also use precise metrics to determine how often and how long a trailer or other cold chain equipment ran during a certain day or time period. 
  2. Set geofence notification alerts. Tracking solutions enable you to automate geofence alerts when a shipment nears your customer’s loading dock. When a trailer is delivered, you can use these alerts to help ensure that the cargo is unloaded quickly and moved to its next temperature-controlled location, maintaining product safety and integrity. You can also create a virtual perimeter for added security around trailers or cargo that triggers an alert when they move from an approved location. 

  3. Improve communication with your drivers. GPS fleet tracking eliminates the need to play phone tag with your drivers. You can be in touch any time, helping them find the fastest route, reducing unnecessary or unauthorized stops and increasing accountability for their cargo. You can also monitor driver behavior, such as harsh braking, excessive acceleration and speeding, which can pose a danger to drivers and others, add costly wear and tear to equipment and put your shipments at risk.  

  4. Proactively manage maintenance and inspections. Set automated alerts for necessary maintenance and inspections, helping you to simplify compliance with regulations and improve equipment safety, as well as helping to prevent costly breakdowns, and extend the life of your assets and preserve their value. 

Cold chain management system features to look for

Make sure to select an intuitive, comprehensive solution that matches your cold chain delivery needs and helps you deliver the speed and efficiency your customers demand. Features to look for include:

  • Durability: Rugged GPS trackers should be built to work in a range of cold and harsh environments and should be moisture and dust resistant. 
  • Long-lasting battery life: Self-powered asset trackers are available with a battery life of up to four years. Powered options are also available where assets have access to a power source. 
  • Reporting: The right solution can give insights into maintenance, driver performance, asset utilization and excessive waste like idling.  
  • Alerts: Automated alerts can help keep drivers and vehicles safe. Alerts can help you diagnose vehicle health issues so that your vehicle can deliver goods safely and on-time.   
  • Flexibility: Your needs will determine what you want to monitor and how often. It is important to find a system that offers asset, vehicle and video solutions so you can monitor your drivers and resources in near real-time. 

Telematics solutions are an essential tool for fleets operating in the cold chain. By automating inspections, improving maintenance, enhancing safety, and managing compliance, telematics solutions can enable fleets to operate at peak efficiency while reducing risk and maintaining a high level of safety and quality. 

Schedule a demo to learn more about the ways logistics management solutions can streamline compliance management for your fleet.

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Data & Analytics, ELD & Compliance, Inspections

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