Supply Chain Insights Improve Temperature-Sensitive Deliveries

Cold chain delivery systems provide transparency and visibility into the transport of foods and pharmaceuticals. IoT sensors can monitor environmental and security issues and send the data to a cloud-based management system, giving users real-time updates on the whereabouts of their goods.

Image credit: IMS Evolve

Never before has an entire country, arguably the entire world, been so aware of last-mile delivery challenges. The global pandemic changed that, and so many other things. With COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson requiring frigid temperatures for storage and delivery, talk of cold chain delivery has become mainstream.

Pharmaceuticals and food rely on cold chain delivery for transport. COVID-19 has highlighted the challenges of transporting goods and underscored how delivery systems are only as good as their weakest link. Early in the pandemic, as restaurants and stores were largely closed to the public, food suppliers were stuck with products they couldn’t move. Dairy producers dumped undeliverable milk. Food spoiled while producers scrambled to repackage goods in smaller sizes and find new retail channels among dwindling options.

Visibility Reduces Food Waste

The U.S. has the greatest amount of food waste, weighing in at about 210 pounds of food waste per person annually. While consumer behavior plays a role, 40 percent of the waste in North America is attributed to other factors, including labor shortages, over-purchasing items, and logistical failures during transport.

One of the ways to avoid food waste is to increase visibility into the supply chain. Even without the chaos resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, last-mile delivery problems can account for 40 to 50 percent of a company’s logistics costs.

IMS Evolve, based outside of London, developed its cold chain technology to give companies insight into their supply chains. Using sensors, wireless technology, and a cloud-based management system, the IMS Evolve solution connects both new and legacy equipment and provides a single view of the cold chain.

An Intel® IoT Solutions Marketplace partner, IMS Evolve has teamed up with the solution aggregator arm of Centennial, CO-based Arrow Electronics. Arrow Services provides global integration and support for IMS Evolve solutions from the edge to the cloud.

Dashboard showing supply chain data

Image credit: IMS Evolve

Real-Time Insights Save Money

The IMS Evolve IoT software collects data from all connected assets, from manufacturing to storage and distribution. It provides dynamic monitoring of several factors, including temperature, workflow, environmental factors, and vehicle location. The data is sent through an IoT edge gateway, which performs analytics and sends the relevant data to a management system in the cloud.

Using a customizable Web-based app, operators get real-time information regarding machine diagnostics, process automation, and asset management. The IMS Evolve IoT solution enables operators to take preventative and corrective actions, such as dynamic cooling, to improve food quality and energy efficiency.

IMS Evolve claims its solution can result in a 50 percent reduction in food waste and up to a 15 percent energy savings. Efficient refrigeration across the cold chain extends the shelf life of products and lowers energy costs. By raising the temperature only 1 degree in the 300,000 retail refrigerators across the US, retailers would save about 470 million kilowatt hours per year. That’s enough energy to power 67,000 homes, or essentially all the residences in a city the size of Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

In addition to evening the distribution of food, improvements in cold chain technologies are, quite literally, saving lives. IoT-based cold-chain delivery systems ensure that medicines and other pharmaceuticals arrive at their destination with a record of the trip. Using the cloud-based monitoring system a supplier can ensure its medication was transported at the proper temperature, or if not, where and how long it was compromised.

IoT technologies give companies visibility into the supply chain through the last mile, allowing them to control costs and improve delivery.