Facing High-Risk Reefer Shipping, Shippers Turn to Technology

Facing High-Risk Reefer Shipping, Shippers Turn to Technology

Reefers are vehicles that shippers use to transport perishable items across the country. Items like produce, seafood, dairy, frozen foods, and pharmaceuticals require temperature-controlled delivery services to ensure the quality of the product to the end user.

Utilizing reefers to ship products is part of what is known as the “cold chain.” In general terms, the cold chain involves any transportation of temperature-sensitive products along a supply chain through thermal and refrigerated packaging methods and the logistical planning to protect the integrity of these shipments. There are several means by which cold chain products can be transported, including refrigerated trucks and railcars, refrigerated cargo ships, reefers, and air cargo.

While globalization has made the relative distance between regions of the world smaller, the physical separation of these same regions is still very much a reality. The greater the distance between sites, the more likely freight can be damaged in one of the transportation operations involved. Shippers increasingly rely on the cold chain to ensure that cargo does not become damaged or compromised throughout the transportation process.

The main elements of a cold chain are:

  • Cooling systems. Bringing commodities to the appropriate temperature for processing, storage, and transportation.
  • Cold storage. The storage of goods over a period of time, either waiting to be shipped to a distant market, at an intermediary location for processing and distribution, or close to the market for distribution.
  • Cold transport. This involves moving goods while maintaining stable temperature and humidity conditions.
  • Cold processing and distribution. This facet provides facilities for the transformation and processing of goods, as well as ensuring sanitary conditions.

The Pharmaceutical Sector

The global pharmaceutical logistics market is expected to experience a CAGR of 7.96% during 2022-27. By 2027, the forecast market value for pharmaceutical logistics is expected to be $146.71 billion. Increased usage of logistics optimization tools, AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), and intelligent logistics platforms are likely to contribute to that future growth.

A number of challenges continue to affect shippers and their reefer efforts, which can invariably lead to significant loss and damage. Let’s examine some of those challenges and explore how API-integrated reefer tracking can help shippers improve resilience in high-risk operations.

Reefer Shippers are Searching for Solutions

The cold chain logistics market has grown significantly in the past decade, especially since the pandemic. This is because of the increasing consumer demand for safe cold chain products such as pharmaceuticals, vaccines, lab samples, food, beverages, dairy products, and more. 

The global cold chain logistics market is projected to grow from $242.39 billion in 2021 to $647.47 billion by 2028, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1% in the forecast period.

Major Challenges of Cold Chain Shipments

Reefers experience many of the same issues as dry vans, but addressing them is critical, given the sensitivity of their cargo. The chance that an entire load could end up as a write-off means the challenges facing reefer shippers are far more complex than shipping standard dry goods. Access to smart exception management, collaboration, and actionable data are necessities for today’s shippers. Here are some of the significant challenges of cold chain shipments.

Disrupted Temperature Control

A stable temperature is non-negotiable. Nearly a third (32%) of all refrigerated cargo is loaded at the wrong temperature. Often, the cargo spoils from being left at the loading dock for too long before it’s loaded onto a reefer (known as “hot loads”). When rejected on delivery, these can result in shipper compensation, disposal costs, and empty miles. Temperature-sensitive goods like pharmaceuticals, perishable food, and even everyday items like frozen vegetables or ice cream become unusable and cause safety hazards if exposed to temperatures outside the recommended range.

Equipment Malfunction

Equipment problems are widespread with aging fleets. While most drivers run refrigeration hardware to assess temperature readings before loading products, these efforts don’t account for temperature sensor failures nor address potential problems as they occur on the road. Equipment failures include things like compressor and condenser fluid leaks, air leaks and broken seals that diminish cooling capabilities, and sensor calibration issues.

Contamination Issues

When freezers and fridges are mismanaged or broken, they can cause microbial growth. To avoid this, companies in the cold chain need to constantly monitor cold storage and freezers.

Driver Errors

There’s no question that refrigerator transportation is complicated. To perform configurations, ensure safe temperatures, and view the data, drivers must be familiar with the operation of their reefer truck and its temperature monitoring system.

Transportation Disruptions and Delays

A transport breakdown is the worst thing that can happen in a cold chain supply chain. A truck breakdown means a destroyed load, lost revenue, and wasted time and money. And temperature-sensitive goods quickly degrade during such delays.

Difficult Regulatory Environment

Perishable food shipments are subject to specific rules and regulations. In particular, the FSMA Rule for Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food was written to provide an audit trail in the event of any issues that arise when they reach their destination. And then, regulations govern pharmaceuticals (such as vaccines), hazardous materials, bulk liquids, flowers, paint, or other refrigerated goods.

Facing a Reefer Shipping Boom, Shippers are Turning to Reefer Cargo Tracking

It’s never been more challenging for shippers to simply know where their reefer freight is, when it will arrive at its destination, and why it was delayed. VIZION API automatically pushes the most complete, standardized, and detailed container tracking events to any software system or spreadsheet, giving you end-to-end visibility into the freight that drives your business.

Tracking 98% of Global Shipments

Know when a shipment is delayed or if the method of transport has been disrupted. Connect your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, transportation management system (TMS), spreadsheet, or other systems to VIZION’s Container Tracking API to get a complete view of all your containerized shipments with easy access to all key milestone details when necessary.

APIs Deliver Instant-On Tracking

Easily navigate the challenging regulatory environment. VIZION’s innovative container tracking API connects carrier information with additional data sources to provide standardized and validated tracking events. Use VIZION tracking data to enable fully consolidated shipment overviews, actionable details, and performance statistics to increase efficiency long-term and provide all the information a regulatory entity could need.

Standardized Milestones Across Carriers

Consolidated status information and notifications on completed milestones and scheduled events are available via API or web service in any common data format. Carrier events and activities – including disrupted temperature control, contamination issues, or equipment malfunctions – are mapped to a single meaningful data model. We standardize the multitudes of ever-changing different representations for you and actively ensure that carrier data are mapped to this model in the best possible way.

Leverage Ready-to-Use Enriched Data

Set up VIZION to meet your unique goals. VIZION enriches every location and vessel with information from proprietary and third-party datasets to simplify building your own visibility solution. We geocode all areas and facilities, label them with UNLOCODES, and provide GPS coordinates. VIZION identifies each vessel using its full name, IMO, MMSI, and voyage ID.

Make Data-Informed Decisions

Comparing performance over time across carriers is a huge asset that provides a solid basis for decision-making. With VIZION data, you can benchmark carrier information, increasing the significance and reliability of your statistics. This valuable information is well structured in JSON payloads that VIZION pushes to your webhook URL.

Improve Efficiency in Operations

With visibility comes efficiency. Start acting on foreseeable delays rather than reacting at the time of disruption. Reduce demurrage and detention charges. Avoid the follow-up cost of “lost shipments.”

Discover API Use Cases & Potential ROI

Having end-to-end visibility and access to real-time data and alerts is integral to achieving improved KPIs in personnel productivity, demurrage & detention, customer experience, and cost management.

Reefer Shippers Face Challenges Head-on with VIZION

To ensure that cargo does not become damaged or compromised throughout the transportation process, businesses in the pharmaceutical, medical, and food industries are increasingly relying on the cold chain, which, as mentioned, has its challenges: disrupted temperature control, equipment malfunction, contamination, transportation disruptions and delays, and a robust regulatory environment, to name a few.

VIZION helps reefer shippers face their challenges with access to smart exception management, collaboration, and actionable data:

High-Stakes Exception Management

Products at risk of spoilage due to temperature variation or time in transit require immediate exception resolution, and finding out about an exception hours later isn’t good enough. Real-time visibility results in immediate knowledge, enabling shippers to find solutions right away, not when it’s too late. Shippers have a bird’s eye view over on-the-ground performance, knowing what caused the exception and the alternatives immediately available.

Optimized Supply Chain Collaboration and Communication

The primary concerns with dry shipments are a) getting them delivered on time and b) where they may be placed on the trailer or in the container. Reefer shipments are a bit more complicated; they require collaboration throughout the entire supply chain to maintain temperature and quality. Efficient and effective communication is essential to ensure each partner is informed and taking steps to protect the shipment.

Wasteful time spent calling is eliminated when all parties have access to accurate ETAs. With all stakeholders able to maintain visibility over high-stakes shipments and receive push notifications regarding exceptions, everyone is in the loop. Shippers can access a streamlined communications system using a cloud-based API that incorporates all logistics partners and eliminates the chance of load-destroying miscommunication.

Standardized Data for Actionable Analytics

Learning from mistakes is impossible if you don’t even know they were made. Millions of data points are created as freight moves through the supply chain. But without the ability to collect, compile, standardize, and analyze the data, reefer shippers are left without an understanding of what happened in the past and what might be better performed in the future. Making sense of the data becomes possible when it’s collected in real-time, compiled, standardized, and analyzed by a learning AI. The result is a holistic view and access to the KPIs shippers need to optimize operations and efficiency. 

Having an accurate picture of what has happened informs shippers in the present and helps them realize more significant success in the future.

Shippers utilizing real-time visibility overcome the unique challenges facing their temperature-sensitive cargo. VIZION’s enhanced collaboration, effective exception management, and actionable analytics give you supply chain control.

Take real-time visibility for a test drive and see how to take control of your reefer cargo operations. Book a demo with VIZION API today.

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