The history of temperature-controlled logistics dates long back to ancient Egypt. However, the cold chain supply industry has never been stagnant since its inception. Logistic providers have been in constant search of new technologies to enhance operations and score an edge over their competitors. With Covid 19, the entire business scenario has changed. Lockdowns and fear of the pandemic has resulted in tremendous rise in online shopping and experts believe that this e-commerce boom is here to stay even after the pandemic is over.
Today with more than 30 percent households opting for online grocery deliveries and online medicine orders becoming the new normal, it is evident that temperature controlled logistics has a super bright future. Researchers predict that the global cold chain logistics market will record an annual growth of almost 18% in the next 5 years!
At the same time, with customers becoming more and more demanding and looking for increased efficiencies at lower costs, the cold chain logistics providers are constantly working to meet the new challenges.
Here’s a look at the technology trends that will drive the future of temperature controlled logistics.
- Use of Fuel Cells – Fuel cells use the chemical energy from fuel to generate electricity that is combustion free. The process is becoming popular not only because it is efficient but because it is environment friendly. Coming to cold chain warehousing context, these fuel cell powered forklift devices exhibit up to three times increased productivity per fill as compared to battery powered units. Fuel cells are becoming the preferred choice for forklifts in cold storage warehouses of major food processors and retailers like Wal-Mart and Sysco who are leading the way for others.
- Automate & Grow –Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) is not exactly a new technology but its adoption has been really slow in the past. However, those who have use it either fully or partially have definitely witnessed its benefits. Experts believe that automation can reduce labour costs and generate 50 to 70 percent savings. Note that this data does not take into account the savings from property taxes, reduced environmental impact, less product damages as well as improved customer satisfaction which anyways come with automation. The future will see more and colder chain supply providers go for automated storage and retrievals.
- Custom Packaging Solutions –Another growing trend is the increased use of modern and customised packaging solutions that include portable cooling and heating devices which can be easily integrated with the logistics platforms to optimize the cold chain supply performance. This will prevent damage of temperature sensitive products by untrained staff and also mitigate other transportation risks. Right from foam packaging to battery operated programmable heating & cooling devices to sterile barrier packaging solutions for bio medical items, businesses will utilize all kinds of custom packaging solutions.
- Efficient Data Tracking and Reporting – Transparency and accurate track ability are the key factors across the entire cold chain supply process. When a business is shipping products that need cold storage, they constantly want to know the whereabouts of the products and how they are being handled. More and more organisations would be using advanced supply chain network technology for increased supply chain visibility that allows real time inventory and product tracking as well as accurate tracking of warehouse employees. Existing tracking and reporting systems such as Yard management systems, warehouse management systems, transportation management systems, Radio frequency management system and Real time location systems will evolve further with intensified and prominent usage in cold chain supply chain management.
- Multi segmented refrigerated fleet – Cold chain supply is about valuable, perishable, temperature sensitive goods and one temperature for all is becoming unacceptable specially when it comes to biologically complex, life saving medical supplies. Technological advancements have now made it possible for refrigerated trucks to have multiple segments that can carry different goods at different temperatures.
- Refrigerated units using solar power – Businesses are keener than ever to use sustainable and eco friendly choices and this applies to logistics as well. While reefer trucks ensure cold chain safety, they are not an eco-friendly option due to the harmful diesel emissions and the pollution they cause. The future will be about environment friendly solar power refrigerated units that will not only reduce harmful emissions but also cut costs and save energy. Also, electric battery-operated engines will replace pollution causing diesel engines.
AWL India offers high class cold chain logistics that uses the latest technology along with cold storage refrigeration and warehousing services.