COLD CHAIN ARTICLE

3. FIVE IoT APPLICATIONS IN LOGISTICS & SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT

5 IoT APPLICATIONS IN LOGISTICS & SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT Written by Brian Ray,

Whether you’re in manufacturing, retail, distribution, or shipping, planning and managing the flow of raw materials and finished goods through your supply chain is a challenge. Materials are often improperly shipped or stored, which can damage sensitive goods. Plus, the sheer size and capacity of a large operation can lead to disorganization in a manufacturing warehouse or distribution facility.

One of the best ways to decrease material waste and improve logistics is with the use of real-time location systems (RTLS).

Download this free whitepaper to learn how large scale manufacturing operations track and monitor materials in their plants.

In the past, supply chain tracking and monitoring solutions—like ultra wide-band (UWB) and infrared technologies—required significant infrastructure, which came with a major installation headache and a significant price tag (often $10 per square meter). Today, there are asset-tracking solutions on the market, like AirFinder, that can be installed and operated for 10 times less than UWB and infrared.

Before we get into more details as to what you should look for when selecting a supply chain management IoT solution, let’s look at several use cases of IoT applications in logistics.

Location Tracking

  1. Track deliveries from the vendor to the manufacturing facility.

If you work with numerous U.S. vendors to create a single component for your device—say, a network of sheet metal vendors for an auto manufacturer—RTLS can be used to track pallets of this component from every vendor, from the time the pallets are packed until the time they enter your manufacturing yard. This way you’ll know well ahead of time if a shipment is delayed, allowing you to keep production running smoothly with your “Plan B.

2. Track deliveries and materials around your manufacturing facility.

Truck drivers have little to no incentive to ensure your goods are delivered precisely where you’ve instructed, which often leads to lost or misplaced shipments. If you use RTLS, you’ll know precisely where pallets have been placed.

3. Track deliveries and materials inside your manufacturing facility.

Materials moved inside a facility for assembly or shipping often fall prey to what we call the “flat spot problem”— e.g. being left on any flat surface available. Misplaced materials can lead to slower production times, employee frustration, and, ultimately, customer dissatisfaction. With RTLS you know the location of tagged materials, like a specialty test fixture, at all times.

Environment Sensing

4. Monitor sensitive goods to avoid damage or loss.

Some factories regularly receive shipments of perishable or sensitive goods that only stay fresh for a short time, and/or require specific environmental conditions to maintain quality.

Using an IoT application for logistics, you can tag a crate of eggs or a barrel of milk and monitor the humidity in the storage area, the temperature of the product, and the shock and vibration levels these items experience during shipment. You can use this information to notify truck drivers of damaged shipments long before they arrive at your factory, and get a new shipment on its way.

Fleet Management

5. Monitor assets to mitigate risk.

If you’re involved in the transport of goods from point A to point B, you need to know where your vehicles are at all times for safety and compliance reasons. Without a tracking system, it can become easy to make erroneous assumptions. For example, you might assume that Bob is with his assigned vehicle—but what if he took a different vehicle that day? Or what if that vehicle is in the shop and he’s in another, and you’re simple unaware? This type of tracking system allows you to ensure you know where each vehicle in your fleet is so you can hold up your end of the supply chain.

SIX QUESTIONS To Ask Before Selecting An IoT Application For Logistics & Supply Chain Management

  1. What level of accuracy does the system allow for?

Do you need room-level accuracy, or more specific location capabilities? This will make a difference in the kind of system you select. For some systems (like AirFinder), a higher number of reference points can be added to increase location accuracy.

2. How much infrastructure is required? 

If you’re building new construction, systems like infrared or WiFi-based RTLS may work well for you. But if you’re retrofitting a system in your current building, you’ll want to select RTLS that is easier to install.

3. What is the total cost of ownership?

The total cost of ownership is one of the most important considerations for manufacturers looking to implement an IoT-based monitoring and tracking solution. Battery life, tag cost, power consumption, and employee training all come into play when calculating cost, so evaluate them all when considering a solution.

4. How much does each tag cost?

Tag cost varies dramatically. Passive RFID tags can be pennies on the dollar, Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tags can be obtained for less than $15, and WiFi tags are typically around $40-$60. The tag cost, of course, makes an impact on whether or not an IoT-based logistics solution will work for you or not.

5. How long is the battery life for each tag? 

Battery life impacts affordability and maintenance. AirFinder tags, for instance, do not beacon continually, so they last up to three times as long as traditional BLE tags.

6. Is the system secure?

When you implement an IoT application of any sort on your network, keeping your data secure is a top priority. The AirFinder system uses multiple layers of device and data security to ensure your data and IT networks are safe. BLE data is encrypted end-to-end using modern AES TLS data transport methods. A “stand-alone” data network, which can be connected via cellular, eliminates IT network vulnerability.

2. COLD CHAIN PRACTICES FOR VACCINE

INTRODUCTION

Cold chain management includes all of the means used to ensure a constant temperature (between +2°C and +8°C) for a product that is not heat stable (such as vaccines, serums, tests, etc.), from the time it is manufactured until the time it is used.

The cold chain must never be broken. Vaccines are sensitive to heat and extreme cold and must be kept at the correct temperature at all times.

Health workers at all levels are often responsible for maintaining the cold chain while vaccines are stored in the vaccine stores at the province and county levels, or while they are being transported to township and villages, and while they are being used during immunization sessions or rounds. More and more often it is becoming the logistician’s responsibility to manage the cold chain as a part of the supply chain.

The Logistics staff must be trained to both use and manage these materials. This includes having appropriate and efficient logistics mechanisms to manage shipping, fuel, spare parts etc. Without training, the program will be seriously compromised and put at risk.

DEFINITION

Cold Chain: a network of refrigerators, cold stores, freezers and cold boxes organised and maintained so that vaccines are kept at the right temperature to remain potent during vaccine transportation, storage and distribution from factory to the point of use.

(Taken from Mid Level Management Course for EPI Managers, Module 8: Cold Chain Management, World Health Organisation, 2004)

EVALUATION OF EXISTING MEANS

Cold chain management has two categories: managing equipment and managing people.

Evaluations of existing means can reveal issues like:

frequent breakdowns in cold chain (sometimes for a long time) because of the lack of fuel, spare parts and back-up energy source;lack of planning for maintenance and cold chain rehabilitation;incorrect use of the Vaccines Vial Monitor (VVM) as a management tool; andlack of planning for emergencies resulting in organisations not having effective cold chain systems during responses.

These problems slow down improvement in routine vaccination services and hinder efforts to eliminate and eradicate disease. To solve these problems, it is necessary to:

identify problems in the cold chain and their causes;undertake specific actions to remove these causes; andstrengthen management systems to prevent recurrence of the same or similar problems.

LOGISTICS

A rapid logistics evaluation can determine the status of materials and vaccines management at field level, along with the status of the vaccine distribution strategy. Based on this information, and taking into account the geography of the country, Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) managers can decide which option to use.

Whatever the chosen immunisation strategies, the cold chain structure is based on two options: fast cold chain (see active cold chain) and slow cold chain (see passive cold chain). (Taken from Mid Level Management Course for EPI Managers, Module 8: Cold Chain Management, World Health Organisation, 2004.)

Some of the logistics activities related to cold chain management are:

shipping/customs clearance/storage ; vaccine management ; insulated shipping containers ; shipping/storage material.

ACTIVE COLD CHAIN (Materials for producing cold).

These include active thermal systems that do not use any phase change materials (PCM) such as water/ice or dry ice. These systems use mechanical or electric systems powered by an energy source, combined with thermostatic control to maintain proper product temperatures.

The equipment used in active cold chain is split into two categories as follows:

compression refrigerators/freezers ; absorption refrigerators/freezers.

COMPRESSION EQUIPMENT

These are the models most commonly used. They run solely on electricity (220V / 110V or on a battery). These models use little energy, require little maintenance, produce significant amounts of cold quickly and are easy to repair. They are equipped with a thermostat for setting the desired temperature.

Solar models are of the compression type (source of energy : solar panels, battery). They are expensive and maintaining them requires specialized knowledge.

Note: These models may only be equipped with an HFC 134a coolant which is not harmful for the environment (the ozone layer). This is valid only for compression models since absorption models function with a water/ammonia/helium (or hydrogen*) mixture.

(*) Cannot be purchased locally given the risk that the hydrogen will explode.

ABSORPTION MODELS

The energy sources are: kerosene, gas, electricity (heating resistor). They use more energy and require more maintenance. They produce less cold and are slower. However, they are suitable for situations where electricity is not available or reliable.

Since the cooling circuit is closed, it is not possible to fill it with gas or repair it if there is a leak. However, these models are very reliable.

Models used to store vaccines are particularly well insulated and equipped with a temperature stabilizing device, except for the kerosene model which does not have a thermostat (the best known manufacturers are Sibir and Electrolux). They are used extensively for the Extended Vaccinations Programs (EVP).

Domestic absorption models are generally insulated less well and it is occasionally difficult to maintain a low temperature for storing vaccines, particularly when the external temperature is high (higher than 32°C).

The efficiency of the models that run on oil depends on the quality of the fuel. Decanting and filtering are often required. A kit is available to modify certain burners, in order to improve operating efficiency, despite oil of inferior quality.

PASSIVE COLD CHAIN (Shipping/storage materials).

These include passive thermal systems that commonly use phase change materials (PCM) such as water/ice or dry ice. These shipping systems are the most basic and cost effective. Some of the basic systems in use are as follows:

freezers for province, county and sometimes at the township level ; refrigerators and, in some areas, the new water-jacket refrigerators for province, county and township levels.

Some villages do not have access to a refrigerator for vaccine storage and therefore use:

cold/cool Boxes at all levels for transporting vaccines ; vaccine carriers to store vaccines during the immunization session or round ; isothermal packaging/control materials like paper to wrap the vaccines up when using a vaccine carrier ; ice packs or ice, as a last resort, to keep the vaccines at a temperature between +2°C and 8°C ; a thermometer to measure the temperature inside the vaccine refrigerator and cold boxes ; anda chart to record the day and time of the temperature of the vaccine refrigerator. The chart should be used to record the temperature two times a day (morning and night).

INSULATED SHIPPING CONTAINERS

Insulated shipping containers are a type of packaging used to ship temperature sensitive products such as foods, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. They are used as part of a cold chain to help maintain product quality or condition.

An insulated shipping container might be constructed of:

a vacuum flask similar to a “thermos” bottle ; fabricated thermal blankets or liners ; molded expanded polystyrene foam, similar to a cooler ; other molded foams such as polyurethane, etc ; sheets of foamed plastics ; reflective materials;bubble wrap or other gas filled panels ; andother packaging materials and structures.

Some are designed for single use while others are returnable for reuse. Some empty containers are sent to the shipper disassembled or “knocked down”, assembled and used, then knocked down again for easier return shipment.

Insulated shipping containers are part of a comprehensive cold chain which controls and documents the temperature of a product through its entire distribution cycle. The containers may be used with a refrigerant or coolant such as:

dry icegel packs (often formulated for specific temperature ranges)

Some products (such as frozen meat) have sufficient thermal mass to contribute to the temperature control, etc

A temperature data logger is often enclosed to monitor the temperature inside the container for its entire shipment.

Labels and appropriate documentation (internal and external) are usually required.

Personnel throughout the cold chain need to be aware of the special handling and documentation required for some controlled shipments. With some regulated products, complete documentation is required.

INSTALATION, CARE AND MAINTENANCE INSTALLATION – Points to note

Respecting certain parameters concerning position helps the refrigerator function well:

out of the sun and away from any source of heat ; in a well aerated area, cool if possible, but not ventilated (risk that the flame will be blown out in the case of a model running on oil or gas) ; with a space of 30 to 40 cm around the equipment in order to allow air to circulate and facilitate maintenance ; placed on wedges for protection against humidity; andinstalled horizontally (absorption models) to ensure good circulation of the cooling gas. Use a plumb line or an air bubble level. Care/Maintenance – Points to note Maintenance is essential for ensuring that the equipment runs well, but having trained, conscientious and stable staff is the best guarantee of this.A minimum amount of spare parts (glass, wicks, etc.) must be available. In the case of maintenance and small repairs, the staff must be specially trained; in the case of major repairs, a refrigeration technician is required.Storage: specific rules apply depending on the type of equipment (chest or front opening) and the products to be stored in it.

To simplify maintenance and repair, cold chain equipment managers and donors are advised to procure the same types and models of equipment. The costs of spare parts, tools, repairs, and fuel to run the equipment must not be overlooked during budget preparation. As the pie chart shows, these costs are much more significant over a ten-year period than the initial cost to purchase cold chain equipment.

SHIPPING, CUSTOMS CLEARANCE & STORAGE

Regarding the customs clearance of the vaccines, the same procedures as described in the Customs topic apply, but with additional specific requirements linked to vaccine management. Note that requirements vary from country to country.

The first step in the customs clearance process, is contacting the following entities to obtain or verify the import procedures:

national regulatory authorities (NRA) or head of customs in the destination country. To be cleared, the vaccines must have received marketing authorisation and a release certificate from the national regulatory authority ; WHO office: vaccines must meet WHO recommended norms and standards (pre-qualification process); andlocal Ministry of Health (MOH): depending on country specific requirements, the MOH may issue a letter approving the shipment.

As Reference, Usually The General Steps are:

submission of vaccine shipping documents (as soon as they are received) with a request to customs authority for the provisional clearance of shipment to the nominated C&F agent ; C&F agent immediately processes the shipping documents as per established rules and regulations of government and contacts customs and airlines to coordinate the arrival, transport, checking and safe storage of the vaccines;continuous contact is maintained well in advance with the concerned airlines to get accurate and updated information of the flight arrivals of the shipments;once the flight arrives, immediate action is taken to release and take delivery of the vaccine shipment and to safely transport the vaccines to the cold storage locations ; C&F agent checks the cold-chain monitor(s) and other mechanism (if necessary) to identify and reconfirm that the vaccines arrived in good condition before removing the shipment from the airport ; irrespective of the condition of the vaccines at the time of clearance, the C&F agent clears the vaccines and delivers as per regular procedures ; the C&F agent informs the concerned official(s) in a timely manner and arranges for the cold room and the required staff to be ready and available to receive/store the vaccines;there should be a system in place to arrange to open the cold room and liaise/contact with the store keeper/cold room staff at any time (24-hours/day, including weekends and holidays);in the event of emergencies or unplanned shipments, if the cold room is inaccessible, the C&F agent is expected to arrange safe and appropriate storage of vaccines at the airport cold room or alternative location, ensuring proper temperature for storage;under no circumstances can any vaccine be left unattended, or outside of the cold room in an open space;unannounced shipments are cleared in time, like all other shipments;a reliable transport system including a refrigerated/insulated van should be made available at all times for effective transportation and delivery of the vaccines ; and in emergencies, the use of charter flights is very common. There are separate rules, regulations, systems and procedures for clearance of charter flights with vaccines including obtaining special permission for landing, fly over etc. and various no objection certificates (NOCs) from Ministry of Civil Aviation, etc.

SHIPPING

This involves:

Cool Box – Vaccine Carrier, Isothermal Packaging, Control Materials Monitoring, means:

All shipping documents for vaccine shipments should be sent in advance of arrival of shipment. The number of days will be determined by the destination country rules. This requirement has been established to facilitate the pre-customs formalities for clearance of vaccines to ensure prompt clearance of the heat or cold sensitive items upon arrival. Some countries have an exceptional early release procedure pending document processing during emergencies.

Documents that accompany shipments:

The following original documents must accompany the consignment when it is shipped, and a copy of these must also be placed in the box numbered “one”:

airway bill ; supplier’s invoice;packing list ; lot release certificate issued by the national regulatory authority of the country of manufacture for each lot of vaccine supplied ; and any other documents, certificates or instructions specified in the individual contract.

The shipping carton containing the documents should be clearly labelled with the words “Containing vaccine shipping documentation”.

Due to the sensitive nature of vaccines, shipments are handled with utmost diligence and special care. Vaccines are mostly transported by air.

The following information shall be stated on the airway bill:

consignee’s name, address and telephone number;purchase order reference;consignee’s requisition reference;type of vaccine and quantity;instructions to: “Telephone consignee upon arrival (repeat telephone number)”; andhandling information: “Medicines – Vaccine – For human use – Highly perishable – Not to be delayed.”

For all vaccines other than oral polio vaccine (OPV), the following instruction should be stated in the AWB:

“Throughout shipment, pending reshipment and prior to collection by the consignee, the vaccine must be stored at +2°C to +8°C (i.e., +35°F to +50°F)”.

For OPV, the following instruction should be stated in the AWB:

“Throughout shipment, pending reshipment and prior to collection by the consignee, the vaccine must be stored at -15°C to -25°C (i.e., +5°F to -13°F).”

Airlines web online tracking is checked before the arrival of every vaccines shipment to see if there is any change in schedule. Constant touch with airlines and customs and forwarding agents is maintained.

STORAGE

After arrival vaccines are cleared and immediately offloaded from the aircraft and directly loaded onto trucks for further transportation to the cold storage facility. Delivery of vaccines at the cold storage is strictly monitored to ensure maintenance of the cold chain in an appropriate manner. Some countries have special requirements for vaccines. There is therefore no standard clearing process but generally the following will apply.

VACCINE MANAGEMENT

The vaccines must be kept at the correct temperature when being transported. Maintenance of the cold chain requires vaccines and diluents to be:

collected from an airport as soon as they arrive ; transported at the correct temperature from the airport and from one store to another ; stored at the correct temperature in stores at the provincial, county, city, township or village health centres ; transported at the correct temperature to outreach sites ; and kept cold during immunization sessions or rounds.

DISTRIBUTION

From a logistics point of view, the same principles of distribution apply as in general logistics distribution. These principles are covered in the Distribution topic with the exception of the use of specialised carriers and containers as discussed in this topic. The distribution of cold chain should be built into the organizational distribution plan to maximize on the limited transport facilities available during emergencies.

In the cold chain the logistician must pay particular attention to the vaccine arrival and temperature control.

VACCINE ARRIVAL

Every international shipment of vaccines from a manufacturer should include a blank vaccine arrival report (VAR) form, as shown on the following page. When the shipment arrives, the individual responsible for monitoring vaccine arrivals and storage fills in the VAR and gives a copy to the local office of the procuring agency. The report documents the condition of the shipment and the quantities received, and it confirms that all other necessary documentation is included. If problems occur, the VAR can be the basis for initiating corrective action or making claims.

Vaccine Arrival Report (WHO/UNICEF) The logistics function must avoid:

shipment of vaccines by way of airports that lack cold rooms ; consignments to the wrong party ; shipment of the wrong vial sizes ; shipment of the wrong quantity of vaccines and diluents ; shipment of vaccines that are due to expire soon ; arrival of vaccines on weekends or holidays ; shipment of vaccines without: advance notification sufficient icepacks cold chain monitors documentation needed for customs clearance (Taken from Immunization Essentials – A Practical Field Guide, USAID, 2003)

The organisation of supply within a country is an integral part of the overall cold chain system, and should be properly planned and executed. There are two types of supply procedures:

vaccines and other supplies to be collected by lower level institutions ; and supplies to be delivered to the lower level

TEMPERATURE CONTROL

Some vaccines are very resistant to heat and are shipped from the manufacturer without insulation. They are, however, damaged by temperatures above +48°C. A special device is therefore used to monitor temperatures during shipment. One indicator is included with each shipment of minimum doses. The shipping indicator should be kept with vaccines if they have to be stored outside the cold chain.

In cold climates, vaccines should be protected from freezing during transport. They should therefore be packed with a cold-chain monitor and Freeze Watch TM, according to the procedures. To avoid damage to the vaccines the staff must know how temperatures are monitored and understand how to interpret temperature readings (indexes).

VACCINE

To retain maximum potency a vaccine should be kept in its safe temperature range.

Quality Control Tools:

Trained and experienced logisticians are critical to the effective management of cold chain. Because of the perishable nature of the product, good knowledge of cold chain, close monitoring, timely movement and appropriate storage is highly recommended to minimise risk exposure, avoid wastage and therefore be cost effective and reach the aim of properly vaccine the target population.

REFERENCE:

Mid Level Management Course for EPI Managers, Module 8: “Cold Chain Management”, World Health Organisation, 2004.

Medecins Sans Frontieres -CEFORLOG”Handbook of Logistics & Distribution Management”, A. Rushton et.al.,1998, Kogan Page Limited, London.- Link”Immunization Essentials- A Practical Field Guide”, USAID, 2003.

1. COLD CHAIN MARKET
HOW TO MOVE YOUR BUSINESS INTO THE NEXT DECADE

Over the next five years the cold chain market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11%, boosted by the expansion of international trade and the introduction of innovative new operating models that are being employed across many industries, from supermarkets through to the pharmaceutical industry.

As an essential piece of the supply chain puzzle, cold chain involves the storage and transportation of temperature sensitive or perishable products. Having the right tools for the job in these often-harsh environments can be the difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one, due to the need to be as efficient as possible to avoid wastage or spoilage.

Closer to home growth will come from exploiting the market on the doorstep, by reinventing what the consumer already knows and repackaging it for the modern way of living. The campaign is geared at changing perception, not only about how convenient and healthy frozen foods can be, but also how friendly it is to the average consumer’s food bill, given the reduction it makes to waste.

Overseas expansion will be the big opportunity as the buoyant market is pushed by demand from developing nations such as India and China. With such a rising demand for specific temperature controls relating to food and healthcare products, it’s clear that now is the time to reassess your business and pinpoint where productivity gains can be made to capitalise on the increased demand.

THE EVOLUTION OF MOBILE DATA CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY

In a cold storage environment, making productivity gains, creating more efficient operations and managing costs can all be addressed by a thorough review of the data capture technology in use.

The bottom line is that the effectiveness and reliability of a mobile device will fall along with the temperature, unless a device is specifically designed for the conditions it is expected to perform in.

The list of problems that mobile devices must face in a cold storage environment is long, and can include: LCD screen fogging up, batteries struggling to cope with the cold, frost obscuring screens, frost covering a barcode scanner’s optical port, reduction in drop rating/IP, reduced display refresh rates and ice on the keyboard.

When a device is frequently taken in and out of cold areas, the temperature can affect almost all of its components. However, the end result is the same – reduced user productivity and if you are not careful employee engagement drops too.

The good news is that over the last five years there has been an abundance of investment in technology research and innovation – today’s modern devices have been enhanced to maintain efficiency in temperature-controlled environments like never before.

The changes can often be simple, such as adding big buttons to rugged handheld terminals that can be felt when using thick gloves, through to more complex improvements, such as internal heat sources and seals designed to prevent condensation and battery draining due to the cold temperature. These innovations are now commonplace and can make a huge difference to cold chain operations.

It’s also vital to consider your operational model today and where you think it will be in three or five years time when planning any investment in new devices. If you want to gain a bigger slice of the cold chain market, then you have to be prepared to grow with it. As well as the technical features of the devices, think of the practical implications too. Will the warehouse grow and if so will your people do more miles moving around the warehouse, and will they carry the device or will it need to be mounted to a vehicle? How will the devices cope with wear and tear, especially as demand increases? How will they cope with rapid temperature change if they are taken into different environments? The technology exists to manage these scenarios, but the trick is to determine the fewest variations in order to optimise the investment.

There may also be an operating system issue that needs to be addressed, depending on your current situation. Will software automatically update so that you have the latest version, how can you ensure all of your employees are using the same version? Do you want to use a system that your employees are already familiar with? How will this impact training? Integrating new technology into a fully functioning, and in many cases an increasingly busy, cold store environment is a challenge. But making the right decisions for your business can pave the way for a successful future.

A logistics expert who understands your business challenges and can help you refine and establish your operational and strategic objectives and make the right choices regarding the devices needed. They can also help with deployment and with any training that may be needed to work with specialist devices.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY ON THE ROAD

As well as ensuring operations run smoothly inside the warehouse, it’s outside on the road where many new technologies can help to optimise a cold chain business.

All too often businesses falter when the pressure is on, and the link that usually breaks first is the one between the warehouse and the lorry. In a cold store environment, mistakes made while loading a vehicle can put standards at risk and slow down the whole operation. When dealing with goods that must be kept at a certain temperature to preserve them, or for hygiene and safety reasons, there can be no weak link or the whole operation will fall down.

With online grocery expected to double to £1.1 billion by 2018, fuelled by the rise of click and collect services, it’s clear that success will depend on slick stock management and tight turnaround times.

Devices used in vehicles and lifts will also be susceptible to similar problems faced in the warehouse. Although similar solutions are also available, it’s another link in the chain that needs to be understood and dealt with properly if gains in productivity are to be made.

THE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

To cope with the expansion expected over the next five years, cold storage operators will need to consider the demands on infrastructure and how their warehouse management system can support the mobile devices available.

As demand increases, along with the pressure on maintaining temperature, a system that offers a real-time view of inventory and orders can allow warehouse managers to be confident in the ability of their business to deliver – and feel assured when taking on new contracts to grow their business.

Giving employees the tools to do their job, backed up by a solid warehouse management system, will not only boost productivity and efficiency but can also work wonders for morale too.

At an early stage, those involved in cold chain should map out the technology they require to capitalise on the expected growth – and create a roadmap to make it happen. It’s easy to think it will be complex to change technology, and indeed it can be if you are replacing outmoded technology, but with the support of a logistics expert it can be a smooth process. A good logistics partner will look at the situation as a whole and design a solution that can be phased-in according to businesses readiness, finances and capability

THE INGREDIENTS FOR SUCCESS

Any logistics company involved in cold chain will inevitably look at the expected growth in the industry and consider the changes it needs to make to take a slice of the market. The truth is that many more issues will apply to each individual business than can be listed here. Ultimately, it comes down to one central theme – what is the opportunity and what will it mean for our bottom line if we do nothing, something or change completely?

Answering this will drive the change that’s needed and open up further opportunities in the market – or even the opportunity to serve existing customers in a more efficient manner.

Identifying how much ‘stretch’ there is in the existing model is one of the first tasks that should be completed. By mapping out your ambition, and then by doing a gap analysis of what you need compared to what you have, you’ll be able to establish the right path to go down.

You’ll also be able to assess the cost versus the opportunity and the roll out plan – a phased implementation that uses a combination of existing technology and new technology, or a complete replacement. The assessment should also help you see where you’ll achieve the biggest gains and how you should prioritise your implementation.

It is vital the strategy is well planned out. This can be an enormous undertaking so it’s very worthwhile to work closely with a technology specialist, who can help assess the gap you need to close today and help you anticipate the future.

A good partner will use this gap analysis to guide a logistics business to the solution that can maximise the opportunities the market presents today and leave the door open for managing the new opportunities that developments in technology are likely to bring about.

Cold storage and logistics is a dynamic industry and the potential for growth is great. A strategy underpinned by technology is the best way to exploit it and turn opportunity into profit.

Source: Bizibl Group Limited, Registered in England 09091156, 26 Bridge Road East, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL7 1HL