Every reefer shipment has an entire load on the line. Knowing the location and state of the freight is crucial to shipper success when a delay or temperature change could result in a whole load lost.
Real-time visibility enables shippers to take control of their reefer supply chains and protect their shipments while creating supply chain resiliency. These considerations become even more crucial as the reefer container market growth continues to make headlines.
As written in the FrieghtWaves article Running on Ice: Florida Makes Headlines Again: “So much so that the smart reefer container market was valued at $823 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $1.66 billion by 2027, according to a Global Smart Reefer Container Market analysis from market research firm The Insight Partners.”
With market growth, money has flowed into the intersection of reefer and technology, leaving shippers seeking the most reliable strategies to optimize their reefer cargo operations. In the search for the next frontier in reefer shipping, many shippers are turning to real-time visibility as the solution.
What is real-time visibility, what does it mean for shippers, and how does it tackle the unique challenges facing reefer shippers? Let’s dig in.
What Is Real-Time Visibility?
Real-time visibility in logistics is the ability to track the progress of shipments and inventory levels at any given time. A shipper knows the location and status of their cargo or inventory when needed, as well as delivery delays or exceptions as they happen.
Technologies involved in real-time visibility include GPS tracking, RFID tags, and IoT (Internet of Things), as a few examples.
Shippers using real-time visibility can better manage their logistics operations, respond more quickly to customer orders/requests, and ensure shipments reach their destinations safely and on time.
When it comes to reefer shipping, real-time visibility is especially imperative for loads such as:
- Food and beverage: Foods like produce, milk products, fruits, frozen foods, eggs, meat and seafood, and juices must be shipped at controlled temperatures to ensure they arrive viable. Shippers could be lose a whole load during a temperature variation or shipment delay.
- Pharmaceuticals: As seen during the logistical challenges of getting millions of COVID-19 vaccines distributed worldwide, temperature control was an essential consideration. The Pzifer vaccine needed to be kept minus 70 degrees Celsius, and the Moderna vaccine required minus 20 Celsius. Their transport came to be called “ultra-cold chain.” With the now endemic nature of COVID-19 and the potential for future mRNA vaccines, ultra-cold chain shipping only continues to grow in need.
- Flowers and plants: Flowers and plants in environments that become too hot or cold face survival challenges that could result in an unsellable product.
- Fine art: Valuable works of art are very susceptible to temperature extremes; a sweltering trailer could destroy an invaluable historic work of art. Visibility is mission-critical when a painting could be worth millions of dollars.
An exception, miscommunication, container failure, or shipment loss could result in an entire shipment being written off. Real-time visibility is a must-have in the high-stakes world of reefer shipping.
Reefer Shipping Provides a Unique Set of Challenges
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 aren’t just luxuries.
High-stakes exception management
Exception management is vital for all shippers but is a high-stakes endeavor for reefer shippers when an entire load may be lost if a refrigeration unit fails. 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 an option.
All-or-Nothing Supply Chain Resolution
Where dry shipments may be placed on the trailer or in the container with the primary concern of getting them delivered on time, reefer shipments 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.
Lack of Access To Actionable Data
Learning from mistakes is impossible if we don’t know they were made. As freight moves throughout the supply chain, millions of data points are created. Still, without the ability to collect, compile, standardize, and analyze them, reefer shippers are left without an understanding of what happened in the past and what might be better performed in the future.
How Real-Time Visibility Optimizes Reefer Cargo Operations
Shippers utilizing real-time visibility overcome the unique challenges facing their temperature-sensitive cargo. Enhanced collaboration, effective exception management, and actionable analytics give them supply chain control.
Streamlined exceptions management
Real-time visibility results in immediate knowledge in the case of exceptions, allowing shippers to find solutions now, not when it’s too late. They have a bird’s eye view over on-the-ground performance, knowing what causes the exception and the alternatives immediately available.
Optimized supply chain collaboration and communication
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
As freight moves throughout the supply chain, mountains of data are created. Making sense of that data becomes possible when collected in real-time, compiled, standardized, and analyzed by a learning AI. The result is a holistic view and access to the KPIs that shippers need to optimize their 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.
Facing the Unique Challenges of Reefer Cargo, Shippers Turn To VIZION for Real-Time Visibility
Reefer shippers have everything on the line with each new shipment. Challenges that could become disasters are overcome with access to real-time visibility solutions. Exceptions, miscommunications, and lack of performance data are no longer hurdles that might result in lost products, poor customer service, or unnecessary costs.
The ability to know where a shipment is in real-time, immediately learn of a potentially costly exception, streamline communications with partners, and inform the present from past performance changes the game for reefer logistics. Shippers taking advantage of real-time visibility build thriving and resilient supply chains.
VIZION API gives shippers unprecedented visibility with a real-time visibility dashboard, keeping all partners in the loop and alerting them to exceptions. Shippers realize streamlined communication, keeping perishable goods moving safely to their destination.
With data standardization of milestone events across carriers, shippers can know past performance, use that information in current operations, and continue growing their efficiencies. Properly processed data analytics from VIZION API take them to their next level of excellence with accurate KPI knowledge.
Take real-time visibility for a test drive and see how to take control of your refer cargo operations.