Processors of perishable commodities and food manufacturers go to great lengths to incorporate internal operating policies that guarantee the safety and quality of the products they produce. Within the confines of fixed asset locations, such as processing facilities and warehouses, the readily available hands-on management structure can rapidly execute quality control measures that are essential to attaining the highest levels of product integrity. The ability to observe and react to the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) substandard conditions or violations within these controlled environments can be spontaneous, therefore, substantially reducing the threat of food contamination and spoilage. However, once products leave the discipline of well organised operations and enter into transportation channels, the ability to watch over perishable goods is greatly diminished. Transportation is consequently looked upon as the weak link or “dark hole” within supply chain management.
Traditionally, transportation and distribution of sensitive refrigerated items were given much leeway regarding how products were managed from the loading point to the delivery point. Due to insufficient visibility, exposure of product to quality threatening temperatures and humidity lost a sense of urgency once the product was placed in a transportation vehicle and was no longer supervised by the generating facility. As long as commodities arrived at their final destination appearing in good condition and temperature levels were either confirmed by the driver or by a blast of cold air when the doors to the vehicle were opened, the product was received. There was little industry could do to incorporate hands-on supervision of product temperatures and product security while in transit, until recently. Rejecting shipments predicated upon visual analysis or reading temperatures from a non-certified thermometer upon delivery were and in many cases still are the standards employed.
There is a new and different emphasis being placed upon the conditions perishable items experience when being transported through the supply chain with the advent of technology, a better informed industry and modern food safety legislation. Custodians of product on-board refrigerated mobile assets are being held to higher standards and are being mandated to prove adherence to those standards. This is to validate the safe handling of goods in route. The days of the unknown or dark hole within supply chain management are coming to an end.
The most important development in the protection and proactive management of refrigerated goods throughout transportation and distribution is the advancement in technology. From smart reefer units on trailers, to the availability of data loggers and RFID wireless solutions, the industry has access to information not attainable just a few years ago. The questions now surround what technology or solutions are most advantageous to supporting internal business rules, ROI requirements and meeting customer and regulatory compliance. Recorded data from reefer units or data loggers have been very instrumental when making decisions to accept or reject loads after they have arrived at the receiving dock. They are also instruments in forensic investigations when determining who is liable for reconciliation in case loads are lost. However, the technology that has had the greatest impact on food safety, security, prevention of lost loads and ROI issues is that which generates real time proactive information and alerts.
When selecting technology, do not get hung up on the traditional barriers that have presently discouraged or confused 85% of the transportation industry from endorsing technology. The customer support and all the solutions are not the same. If designed properly wireless technology is like having your own supervisor on board a vehicle in transit. Cooltrax was designed and built upon feedback from industry businesses that desired a solution to assess conditions in a real time view of remote vehicles that are delivering and transporting their product. This allows perishable goods owners to address problems or system failures proactively. The ability to do so has prevented equipment failures, substantial product losses, security violations, customer frustrations from rejected loads and has enhanced risk avoidance. When employing GPS, geo zones, two way reefer management, door security, alarms, limitless product and ambient wireless temperature sensors and information from a variety of diverse reports, Cooltrax is that supervisor in your truck.