What are the trends in cold chain logistics?
Cold chains traditionally relied on drivers, warehouse managers and transporters to confirm that temperature of goods transported by them is maintained at optimal temperature during the course of the entire chain. As an improvement, post-delivery, a data logger was then used to download data and verify the temperature reading in warehouses and during the journey. However, in recent times, with the advent of IoT and strict requirements of the shippers, all participants are more focused on getting real-time visibility of temperature data. But the use of IoT is not adopted in an integrated manner and it is used for corrective measures rather than preventive measures. In other words, the use of analytics to improve operations and business decisions is largely absent.
Moreover, the real use of IoT shall be in reducing human errors by automation. This will not only reduce human mistakes but also make the entire operations more efficient.
What evolutions have you witnessed in cold chain logistics with IoT?
IoT has gradually redefined the way we see and interpret data. IoT technology makes it easy to collect accurate data automatically which when combined with useful analytics, help derive substantial business benefits. Temperature data that was available post facto are now available real-time. Real-time alerts can be configured to alert concerned personnel in case of temperature violations during the journey to effect preventive steps. This enables logistics personnel to take timely appropriate action instead of post facto. The next stage of IoT evolution is towards the integration of IoT with analytics tools such as Machine Learning. The analytics can be used not only by the operations team but also by the management to improve business metrics on a real-time basis.
How Transport Hub is driving key innovations in cold chain logistics with digitization (IoT)?
Transport Hub decided to push the boundaries of innovation still further with its next-gen solution ICE (Improvement in Cold Chain Efficiency). Why should the logistics team be alerted in case of temperature violations during transit? TH team decided to automate temperature control inside a reefer or warehouse through ICE. You no longer need to depend on the driver for switching on and off of your reefer air conditioner. Neither do you have to depend on alerts generated by some IoT device to take action? TH ICE automates temperature for you. The device will ensure that the air conditioner is switched on and off respectively when temperature thresholds are violated.
What are the solutions offered by Transport Hub for cold chain logistics?
Cold chain logistics can broadly be categorised into two – Cold Storages and Cold Chain Reefer Container Vehicles. Transport Hub offers TH ICE solution for both Cold Storages and Cold Chain Reefer Container Vehicles. TH ICE automates temperature thereby, eliminating the requirement of a dedicated person to monitor and ensure that the temperature is maintained.
How does ICE work? How does it benefit the cold chain sector?
TH ICE eliminated the need for personnel to monitor and ensure the optimum temperature in a moving reefer container of cold storage. With TH ICE the cold storage or reefer owner can automate temperature inside the enclosure. The cold chain sector can finally ensure optimum temperature without the deployment of resources to monitor and change refrigeration status manually.
What challenges do you face while offering your solutions to the cold chain logistics sector? What are the solutions for overcoming these challenges?
Humans are generally reluctant to change. Any technology needs time to reach the masses. Moreover, data received from legacy data loggers have wide acceptance in the industry. Despite initial reluctance towards change, Transport Hub has managed to get a number of marquee clients on board for TH ICE solution. The only way to increase acceptability is by increasing product awareness and we believe given the great economics and significant benefits provided by ICE will enable the users to adopt in large scale.
What are your clients in the cold chain logistics sector?
Transport Hub has a diversified group of customers in the cold chain logistics sector. Pharmaceutical companies like Kanchan Pharma, Seed Companies like Sakata Seeds and Food companies like Allana Foods and Vadilal are a few of Transport Hub’s marquee clients.
What kind of growth do you envisage for Transport Hub for the next 2 to 3 years?
India is currently the world’s largest producer of milk, second largest producer of fruits and vegetables and has a substantial production of marine, meat and poultry products. According to a leading market research company, the Indian cold chain market was worth Rs 1,121 billion in 2018. The market is further projected to reach Rs 2,618 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 14.8 per cent during 2019-2024. With this kind of growth, Transport Hub projects an exponential growth in acceptability of its proprietary, patented TH ICE solution.
What is your outlook for cold chain logistics?
Given the lack of economical cold chain infrastructure and operational issues in a warm and large country like India, lots of perishable goods cannot move far. This creates demand-supply mismatches which are detrimental to both the consumers and growers. In fact, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 40 per cent of fresh fruits and vegetables are wasted every year due to lack of cold-chain infrastructure. Centre for Public Policy research has in its report in 2016 mentioned that only 2 per cent of production in India is kept or transported using cold-chain as compared to 85 per cent in the US.
However, with better electricity and road infrastructure along with the push by the government, the cold chain industry is set to grow very fast in the near future. Also, increasing prosperity will lead to demand for pharmaceutical products, dairy products, material for food and restaurant industry and discretionary goods like chocolates etc. The trends bode extremely well for the industry and the support industries like technology companies will also see great growth opportunities in the near future.