The worldwide downtime of Whatsapp this week has shown us exactly how dependent we have become on technology that makes our lives easier, that allow us to move and work at a faster pace and allows communication across borders with very little cost.
The same is happening in the Cold Chain. Technology and the developments thereof, is taking leaps and bounds, and driving the sector to greater heights.
The cold chain has become more sophisticated over the past couple of years to keep up with a variety of factors, including the development of new drugs, growth in the frozen food sector, and changes in consumer dietary and delivery preferences. Not to mention the regulations from all sides that no longer make data management a nice-to-have, but a must-have.
But which technology will drive the Cold chain, or temperature-controlled shipping in the future? Let us look then at recent innovations, in order to know the way forward.
Automation is said to be one of the best solutions, with Preferred Freezer Services in North America reporting that an automated storage and retrieval system saves up to 80% in labour, up to 60% in space, and up to 40% in energy costs. This was in 2018.
Information tracking of cold products has become a must-have, and is no longer a nice-to-have, as data is required for every step in the movement of cold products. According to one Honeywell survey, 27% of pharma tracking in 2017 was still on paper. As of 2021, that number had dropped to less than 10%. But looming regulatory deadlines also gives increased visibility in the supply chain and boosts consumer safety and trust.
Great strides have been made in the lithium-ion battery business, but specifically for cold chain environments. Creating more opportunities at lower costs in rural areas who do not have electricity, allowing businesses in these areas to also keep their agricultural or pharmaceutical products cold.
Some experts say that enhanced GPS devices with advanced accuracy will improve everything from order efficiency to delivery speed.
Others say that shipment tracking systems is key for 24/7 visibility, even from the comfort of your sofa. And the Internet of Things (IoT) has an important role, creating the ability to monitor devices and provide real-time tracking of location, temperature, humidity and many other factors.
Vital for maintaining a consistent product temperature is the packaging, as even a slight temperature variation can render a perishable product unsafe for consumption. This has lead to innovation in cold chain packaging and has more growth opportunity.
Whilst the abovementioned technologies are by no means all of the strides made in the industry, technological advancements will continue to drive the cold chain forward and we are excited to be part of these industry developments.