The cold chain, or the temperature-controlled supply chain, is a massive segment of the transport and logistics industry that handles commodities like agricultural produce, frozen food, seafood, ice cream, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. In North America, the cold chain was valued at roughly $62B in 2015. The United States Department of Trade reported that global losses in the food industry total more than $750B annually, primarily due to lack of proper facilities, improper food safety handling procedures, and insufficient training for personnel working in the cold chain.
Despite the wasteful, inefficient practices that prevail in the global cold chain, the sector’s value is growing rapidly: refrigerated warehouse capacity in the United States posted a 9% CAGR from 2008-14, for instance. The industry standard for monitoring temperature-controlled trailers is a single number recording the temperature for the whole trailer. Most refrigerated units are in the front of the trailer, and wide discrepancies in temperature can persist across the length of the trailer, especially during door events.
Cooltrax, an IoT company founded in 2001 in Roswell, Georgia, offers a product that provides a superior, more granular level of visibility into temperature-controlled freight. Cooltrax’s Cooler Wedge is inserted into each pallet of a temperature-controlled load, and generates continuous reports on temperature, door events, average run time in domicile, geofencing, route exceptions, reefer alerts, and a comprehensive route profile.
“We provide real-time, exception-based temperature reporting to ensure the highest level of integrity and compliance for our customers’ cold chain and food safety,” said Mike Sharpe, president of Cooltrax Americas.
Cooltrax’s wireless probes are capable of operating in a temperature range from -40 to 180 F, are encased in a rugged plastic housing, and have an embedded bar code for inbound applications. Cooltrax’s sensors can generate an enormous volume of data, based on the size of its customers’ fleets, and the company helps carriers leverage that data into actionable insights with its Business Intelligence Dashboard. That dashboard aggregates executive KPIs and compiles customized realtime and scheduled reports on event and geocode activity.
The federal government has recognized the importance of ensuring the integrity and safety of the United States’ cold chain; not only is product spoilage a business loss, but it’s also a public health risk. The Food Safety Modernization Act (2011), signed into law by President Obama, shifted the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination incidents to regulating the industry in such a way as to prevent contamination in the first place. The law created a new, stricter regulatory regime that includes things like mandated inspection frequency, mandatory recalls, expanded records access, expanded administrative detention, suspension of registration, enhanced product tracing, and third party laboratory testing. For the biopharmaceutical cold chain, in many countries temperature has to be proved continuously from origin to destination for medicines to make it through customs. Cooltrax offers a compliance solution dedicated to helping customers navigate the new regulatory environment and maintain FSMA compliance in a cost-effective way that empowers the business.
In addition to Cooltrax’s products tailored for the transport and logistics industries, they also participate in the retail and warehousing spaces, offering monitoring and analytics services for in-store coolers and freezers, whether at a grocery store, a merchandise cabinet at a pharmacy, or an industrial climate controlled facility. Cooltrax’s Fresh InStore solution offers realtime visibility of all asset temperature conditions across the cold chain, worldwide, 24/7. The hardware includes long range wireless tags for monitoring temperatures, interfaces to warehouse management systems, and the use of either 3G/GSM networks or LAN connectivity.
Temperature-controlled freight is valuable and expensive to transport, making efficiency and the reduction of loss that much more important. Cooltrax is not only solving problems with waste, but actually adding value to the cold chain with data that will give shippers further insight into their logistics operations.