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Temperature tracking ‘a no-brainer’ to combat food spoilage and claims

Learning from the past year’s food loss and prepping for the current reefer capacity crunch

Photo credit: Jim Allen / FreightWaves

As produce season approaches, it’s impossible not to reflect on last year’s food-related cargo losses and shortages, whether from meat plant closures, dumped milk or panic shopping

Additionally, capacity remains tenuous for the refrigerated trailers that haul the produce, so any volatilities or seasonal pressures, like the expected market increase of produce season, will have a larger impact than during a more traditional year. As seen in the SONAR chart below, reefer carriers are currently rejecting over 48% of contracted loads.

To maximize available capacity and combat unnecessary cargo loss and spoilage, last July, the Food and Drug Administration announced the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, which helps food suppliers and manufacturers improve tech-enabled traceability, predictive analytics, response times to outbreaks and reduction in food contamination. After all, one-third of food created for human consumption is wasted.

East West Express ⁠— a Georgia-based fleet of 170 trucks that hauls fresh and frozen produce from California ⁠— was an early adopter of PowerFleet’s temperature tracking and monitoring solution. 

“The reason that we adopted it was primarily for produce,” said Billy Barnett, sales representative at East-West Express. “We wanted better data and faster. When we saw this option to track it remotely, it was a no-brainer for us. The produce is so temperamental. If you have any major changes up or down, you’ve lost the freight.”

Compatible with single or multitemperature compartment trailers, the highly reliable PowerFleet LV-400 allows users to remotely monitor and make changes to the reefer trailer from their PC, which reduces the need for driver interaction. The user interface shows the cargo’s location, inside environment and events ⁠— all of which can be integrated into a carrier or shipper’s back-end system. Through alerts and alarms, the real-time data reports are a result of near-constant temperature checks every five minutes. With a fast and easy installation, the LV-400 is a must have for today’s reefer management.

“Any little thing can happen when you’re going from the West Coast all the way back to the Southeast. When receivers want to push a claim forward, we could show the data that we actually have ⁠— our supply, return air, ambient air. We definitely saw claim amounts and counts of claims drop down as a result of adopting this solution.”

Should a driver have a health event or accident on the road, leaving a trailer unattended, the fleet manager could use the remote tracking solution to control the cargo’s temperature if necessary. 

“If a carrier experiences cargo loss or not, if they’re not using the technology, they’re not keeping up. Your business is being passed by your competitors, who are offering better service than you are. When you look at the Food Safety Modernization Act, this is just part and parcel of the whole chain from start to finish. You need that data. It’s important and  will help you back up against any claims and just make you a more attractive carrier to potential customers.”

Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.