Shipping perishable goods isn’t easy. A 99% unbroken cold chain won’t cut it. You need to know where your goods are, how they are being handled, if they are on-time, in the right conditions. As it turns out, visibility can answer all these questions. But what data do you actually need to make this happen? How much visibility is enough?
Visibility is a spectrum
At its core, visibility of your cargo means knowing where your cargo is, and what condition it is in. However, when you get down to it, it can be much more complicated than that. Do you need to know the location exactly or will an approximation be sufficient? What types of conditional data are necessary, and what is excessive? Should you be updated about your shipment status every minute or every day?
What is different about perishable goods
Perishable goods are sensitive. They are temperature sensitive; if they aren’t kept at the right temperature, they can spoil. They are physically sensitive; often easy to crush, squish & shake into a state unfit for sale. They are also often time-sensitive; perishables have expiration dates. This means that it is particularly important to know both the condition and location of your perishable goods. After all, losing cargo is more expensive than you may think.
Sensitivity to heat, cold, turbulence, tilting and humidity means that you need data on these points. Also, because your perishable goods are time-sensitive, it is extra important to avoid delays as much as possible. This is where data on location is useful. Real-time location tracking offers the possibility to identify disturbances and delays as they happen – and enact a contingency plan when it matters the most.
99% unbroken isn’t unbroken
Your perishable goods are not only susceptible to damage from environmental factors. They also can be damaged very quickly, in the matter of minutes. This means that a 99% unbroken cold chain isn’t good enough. A shipment of milk & dairy products can arrive at its destination intact, and spoil during unloading due to miscommunication about temperature requirements.
Unbroken in theory is not unbroken in practice. To understand where damage occurs, you’ll need access to minute by minute data. If a shipment of produce arrives bruised and mushed, it doesn’t help to know that turbulence occurred during the last 10 days of its journey. You need to know the time and place to know what went wrong, to hold relevant parties accountable and prevent it from happening again.
Real-time visibility with Visilion
Legacy tracking technologies, such as RFID, barcodes and data loggers, provide elements of the right data, and only upon the shipment arrival. Having real-time visibility means being able to not only know what is going on in the moment, but also easily identify specific causes of damage, long-term trends and problem areas. Real-time visibility can reveal a lot about damage.
A real-time tracking solution such as Visilion can provide exactly the data you need for your perishable goods. The next time that you have a breakdown of your cold-chain infrastructure during shipping – you will know when and where. If you are concerned about temperature adherence, you can view real-time temperature information. If you aren’t actively concerned, there is no need to worry. You can designate a safe range of conditions and be immediately notified of deviations. For logistics providers, visibility also has the added benefit of providing data that is possible to share with customers.