As you may remember, about a month ago I wrote a list of 5 reasons why real-time monitoring in logistics operations is something that should be started sooner rather than later.
This time I’ll also look at other simultaneous technology developments and tell you why now is the best time to start with real-time IoT, without forgetting that this should always benefit the user most of all, not be just adopting technology for technology’s sake.
So here are 5 further reasons for real-time monitoring in the cold chain, and why you should adopt it now.
1. End-to-End visibility transforms logistics from cost center to competitive differentiator
Cold chain is at its most vulnerable at hand-over points. When one stakeholder’s responsibility ends and another one’s starts, without a continuous chain of visibility no-one knows what is going on within a shipment. This leads to a lot of waste in the logistics chain.
As a result, billions of dollars are being spent every year on transporting excess pharmaceuticals and food to compensate for spoilage. Is it any wonder cold chain logistics looks like a money sink to many industries!
But with real-time end-to-end visibility the potential for savings is also in the billions. By breaking down the data silo mentality in cold chains and embracing transparency among stakeholders, you get the ability to mitigate harm and can start operating with maximum precision.
With smart monitoring and process development that is based on real-world data, like real-time IoT technology enables, these are easily within reach. And operations that function better and are more cost-effective are always going to be more attractive for your customers.
2. Blockchain needs information to work
If you work with logistics and you haven’t heard about blockchain during 2018 you are exceptionally rare. Marketed as an immutable shared ledger, blockchain has the potential to be the kind of 3rd party transparency technology many supply chains are looking for.
But right now, blockchain is a victim of hype as much as IoT used to be a few years back. It’s not going to solve all problems for all people. And by itself blockchain’s just a special kind of communications tool. To provide operational benefits, a blockchain requires other adjacent processes to be automated as well.
And these benefits could well be worth the effort. For example, integrating IoT-based real-time monitoring for pharmaceutical cold chain and sharing this data on a transparent blockchain would automate regulatory compliance regarding Good Distribution Practice.
Distributing this data and possibly also the data gathering mandated by the upcoming Falsified Medicines Directive via blockchain would give stakeholders access to the kind of holistic data that would make improving cold chain transparency, ensuring regulatory compliance and simplifying process development much easier.
3. AI becomes commonplace
AI was the buzzword in 2018, and it’s not going to go away this year either. There are multiple projects underway which try to introduce business cases for AI or machine learning (in a way the “lite” version of AI) for cold chain and logistics operations.
But to make the best use of AI, we will need two-way real-time communication to be set up as well. Not having that real-time access to data would waste a great deal of AI’s capacity for process management. Without access to data on what’s happening right now, it is very difficult to provide efficient automatic direction in cold chain operations, even if you have predictive or prescriptive analysis to fall back on.
So, if AI is the brain, we also need real-time input from the senses. IoT is the natural choice for implementing this, so we’ll be seeing both evolving along with each other in the future. Once some really viable use cases pop up, we’ll be seeing a very rapid spread of AI in the whole logistics field. If you already have IoT in place in your cold chain by then, it will be that much faster to set up AI to start improving your operation.
4. Global ecological situation is challenging
We all know that resources on planet Earth are finite. That means we should not be wasting them.
But that is juts what we’re doing now. If we had a better way to get resources from place to place without spoiling and wastage, we’d save the planet a huge amount of food and pharmaceuticals every year. And not to mention the savings made up of lesser use of logistics equipment and the fuel, maintenance and other resources they require to function.
And we have that already – it’s the same thing I’ve been telling you about the whole time. With real-time capability, we can prevent that unnecessary waste in cold chain logistics. With sustainability getting more and more important, it’s time to start walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
5. The timing is right
Taking into consideration all these developments (and the 5 I wrote about last time), it’s clear that this is the best time to adopt real-time technology in cold chain operations. This is because we’re seeing a gathering of many simultaneous developments in the field of innovation, regulation, and overall global situation that support implementation sooner rather than later.
Of course, on a case by case basis an individual process can probably hang on quite long without real-time capability. But this will almost certainly mean missing out on a number of benefits made possible by implementing the technology at this opportune moment.
If you’d like to know more about how to best implement real-time IoT technology for your operation, we’d be happy to help! You can contact us through the site here, send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org or meet us personally at the Temperature Controlled Logistics in Biopharmaceuticals Europe 2019 (13th - 14th March 2019, Milan, Italy).