ARTICLES — August 18, 2021

Remote Monitoring: How It Can Enhance the Cold Chain Industry

The cold chain has been the go to option for transporting food, keeping it fresh and safe for consumption. In light of the pandemic, it has proven to be useful in transporting vaccines which requires meticulous supervision in its distribution process. Without careful asset management, consumable items can lose their potency, or suffer spoilage before their arrival.

Currently, Indonesia is aiming to develop its cold chain industry. According to the Chairman of Supply Chain Indonesia (SCI), Setijadi, the projected growth of Indonesia’s cold chain industry will reach up to 12-16%. This is due to the industry's efforts to minimize the damage level of transported commodities and to meet the demands of product quality assurance. This growth opportunity can be seen from the comparative data between the availability of cold storage and the population. In Indonesia, cold storage capacity is 0.05 m3 per resident, while in India it is 0.10 m3 and the United States is 0.36 m3 per inhabitant.

Indonesia recognized the importance of the cold chain industry because food losses and waste have occurred at all stages, both production (agriculture, fisheries, etc.), post-harvest, processing, distribution, and consumption. Overall, food losses and waste reached up to 50%, most of which occurred at the production and processing stages. Staff training and certification programs can be held to enhance competencies and company capabilities in cold chain processes. Even so, there is also a dire need for investment in logistics to increase its distribution capacity. However, it is easier said than done because the cost of logistics is relatively high in Indonesia.

According to the President Director of Indonesian Ports (Pelindo II), Arif Suhartono, there were five main issues that caused the steep price of logistics in Indonesia. These include, “...unconducive government regulations, low land-value chain efficiency, low maritime-value chain efficiency, non-optimal port operations and infrastructure, and unbalanced supply and demand,” Stated Arif on July 7th, 2021. However, he also admitted that he only focused his attention on operation and port infrastructure. Based on his observation, he demanded that there is a need for integration in this area.

Remote Monitoring Solution

With the current technological advances, one solution that can combat existing infrastructure difficulties is remote monitoring. Remote monitoring allows minute supervision over all elements in the logistical process. There are three reasons why remote monitoring has the potential to mend the operation and infrastructure difficulties:

1. End-to-End Monitoring

Visibility is beneficial for all parties in logistics. Consumers and suppliers can track their products, making sure that it will be delivered safely and undamaged. It is even more crucial for cold chains to have this visibility because the product's quality is highly dependent on the shipping process. For instance, customers are able to monitor the temperature of every asset during shipment or when it is stored inside the warehouse. This provides a real-time quality assurance for every product until it reaches the end consumer’s front door.

2. Flexibility Amid Complication

With aggregated data collected from transported cargo, it will be easier to anticipate difficulties on the road. Complications that cause delays such as bad weather, road blockages, or machine failures can be easier to avoid and mitigate in the future. In turn, it will improve overall consistency, and create a better scheduling system to minimize delay.

3. Automated Systems

With the advancement of remote monitoring technology, it is possible to implement automation in various aspects of logistics. Automation can minimize hand operations that are prone to error such as mishandling items as well as cargo loss. In the cold chain, automation can come in a form of predictive maintenance. It automatically schedules maintenance to prevent any equipment failures or malfunction.

By focusing on the right investment, the cold chain industry and logistics will see a significant long term growth. Remote monitoring is the future of the cold chain industry. This will minimize food losses and waste, improve delivery consistency, and save production and delivery costs. All in all, it will promote a better economy. Implement remote monitoring for sensitive items such as food and vaccines, using Asset Performance Management (APM). Click here to learn more!

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