What is true real-time monitoring and why your cold chain needs it

Cold chain management   16 Jul 2018

There are many temperature logger manufacturers on the market today, some of which are purely hardware providers and some who also develop software to visualize the data sent from loggers. What they seem to have in common is that many of these producers also claim that their products and solutions offer data and monitoring in real-time. In order for their solutions to be real-time, however, they require the presence of a gateway to collect that data. The fact of the matter is that much of the time there is no gateway in the truck and even if there is, this kind of solution is simply not scaleable. 

What is real-time data?

Real-time data is data that not only records information over time and provides that information in a way that one can view exactly what happened over any given time period, but it also makes that data accessible as it happens. 

Let’s take the example of a shipment involving temperature sensitive products. You might be shipping pharmaceuticals, food, or even florals, but what’s important is that that shipment remains within a safe temperature range during transport. 

Many products can monitor that temperature at all times and provide you with a report of the temperature at all times while it was in transport, but that information is only available to the customer after they retrieve the logger off of the shipment and either plug it in via USB connection or upload the data wirelessly to a computer. What they don’t do is provide that data the moment it happens, so you can pro-actively react if something has gone awry.

Other providers can provide real-time monitoring, but only when there is a gateway present in the truck, ship, plane, etc. to continuously send that data. In these cases, there usually is not a gateway present and if there is, it’s expensive and hard to scale. 

Truly real-time monitoring solutions

Controlant is different. Our loggers used in the supply chain include a SIM card that continuously sends data to a cloud platform and only our facility monitoring loggers require a gateway, making that data accessible via the cloud the moment it’s recorded. This means that customers can review shipment data while in transit and get alerted to a deviation the moment it occurs. 

Not only that, but if no deviations are recorded, it means that stakeholders and quality professionals do not need to spend precious time reviewing the data from not truly real-time loggers to ensure that the products are safe. It provides peace of mind that any shipment without an excursion sent is safe. 

This kind of insight and ability to manage only by exception is only possible with real-time monitoring. 

Real-time and location, a powerful partnership

What makes real-time temperature data in the cold-chain even more powerful is when it’s combined with GPS and also provides location information. This means that if a temperature deviation occurs and an alarm is sent via SMS or email to relevant stakeholders, they also know exactly where those products are when it happened. Knowing where your valuable products are when excursions occur, makes it easier to discern what is causing the problem. 

Is your truck full of produce in the middle of death valley when the temperature goes up? Then probably the outside temperature has gotten so high that the optimal truck temperature can no longer be maintained. Or perhaps your shipment is stuck in customs at a border and the temperature deviates meaning that the truck windows were not shut after inspection. The options are endless, but the more information you have at the exact moment that an issue occurs, means the faster you can identify it and react before thousands or even millions of dollars are lost, or worse, a product becomes unsafe for human consumption. Being able to more quickly and easily identify the root cause of these issues,means that you can avoid them in the future, therefore reducing waste, improving safety, and cutting costs.

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