The entire food supply chain is subject to significant disruptions, including keeping up with demand as pandemic-related fears drove historic spikes in sales. This has placed tremendous strains on logistics processes, which often challenge the maximum capacity of retail distribution centers (DCs). “Many produce providers trying to keep up with demand were asked to hold shipments, but fresh produce shouldn’t sit on trucks or vessels for extended periods of time,” says Amy Childress with Emerson Cargo Solutions. “Our products and services help our customers protect the quality and safety of in-transit perishables and high-value products by monitoring location, temperature, and other sensor data.”
The pandemic and supply chain disruptions have taught everyone to have an alternate plan in case primary supply chains are interrupted, from looking at various ways to get products to market to being strategic and adaptable in delivery, storage, and distribution. It has pushed people to innovate, build stronger relationships, and make the supply chain more resilient over time. As a result, people are looking for insightful information they can glean from operational data, and this is what Emerson’s Cargo Solutions business aims to provide.
Emerson provides solutions for suppliers, growers, shippers, exporters, retailers, and restaurants. Specifically for growers, GO real-time trackers provide monitoring for their perishable shipments, allowing them to monitor food quality when it is no longer in their direct control. “It is staggering to realize that there can be potentially as many as 20 to 30 individual steps and multiple changes of ownership from the point of harvest, processing, cold storage, and distribution - all before the product reaches the last-mile delivery to a store or restaurant,” Childress said. GO real-time trackers and GO data loggers support maintaining precise temperatures and real-time visibility to in-transit shipper locations.
"Equipped with this mission-critical cold chain data, growers can make informed decisions and respond in real time to conditions impacting their perishable produce. We’ve been able to support some of our clients with our Oversight portal, which allows us to visually monitor a live map overlay of trucks en route to full DCs. They were able to reroute shipments directly to nearby customers or other receiving centers to get the products on store shelves quickly and safely.”
Here are some scenarios:
- Divert a shipment. If a refrigeration issue arises on a refrigerated shipping truck mid-shipment, producers can divert the shipment to a local retailer or cold storage facility to preserve food quality and avoid loss.
- Locate lost or stolen cargo. If a shipment veers off-course - due to, for example, shipper error or potential theft - producers can immediately locate the shipment and take corrective actions.
- Help ensure temperature certainty. If a driver/shipper intermittently deactivates the refrigeration system to save fuel, producers get real-time notifications when the temperature deviates from its setpoint.
- Resolve disputes. By tracking and automatically documenting the temperatures and conditions of perishables throughout the cold chain journey, growers can validate the temperatures to help resolve potential disputes on receipt.
- Support transportation agreements. Many growers are actively participating in transportation and logistics agreements with their retail partners that require in-transit temperature monitoring to protect supplier cold chain integrity.
Wireless tracker with 4G/5G option.
Yard monitoring for retailers
Further down the value chain, retailers are increasingly looking for ways to add surplus storage and are putting refrigerated trailers outside of stores and DCs to provide excess capacity. That way, in the event of panic shopping, they have more product in reserve at a DC or the store itself to help them pivot quickly. This means monitoring the temperature of product in trailers located in yards or parking lots, and it requires the same monitoring standards that are needed when the perishables are in a facility. “We’re working with customers to outfit these trailers with monitoring devices to provide extended cold chain monitoring and alert services, so they will be covered,” said Childress.
Global demand increase
Emerson has witnessed an uptick in demand for its products and anticipates growth to continue. “Globally, there is a rise in demand for access to perishable products year-round. The growth in the middle class among emerging countries helps drive this demand,” Childress commented. In addition, the build-out of cold storage facilities, in Asia in particular, cannot be ignored. It is the foundational infrastructure that enables a connected cold chain. “Lastly, we have seen increased emphasis on improving food quality and safety. For example, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a 'New Era of Food Safety' initiative with a focus on technology. Traceability will be a main focal point, but there are also increased opportunities to use technology to help ensure an unbroken cold chain.
Emerson’s solutions are available across the globe and used by more than 5,000 customers in 75+ countries.