Staying Cool: Three Challenges Facing Reefer Cargo Operations

Staying Cool: Three Challenges Facing Reefer Cargo Operations

Trucking is still a challenge post-pandemic, but if you take dry van challenges and triple them, that is reefer trucking in 2023 and beyond. When goods need to be temperature controlled, the logistics instantly become more complex. A breakdown of a refrigeration system creates an urgent need for a solution when temperature-dependent cargo could quickly spoil.

The growth in the markets needing to ship temperature-sensitive cargo only continues to explode, and this growth isn’t relegated to foodstuffs at risk of spoilage. According to Frieghtwaves, the growth of the expected logistics market for reefer-dependent pharmaceuticals will be tremendous.

“The global pharmaceutical logistics market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate 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, IoT, and intelligent logistics platforms will likely contribute to that future growth.”

While the cold chain market continues to grow along with the need, shippers continue to be plagued by issues, including:

  • Poor exception management
  • Low visibility over high-stakes shipments
  • Lack of data to continuously improve operations

What are the three biggest challenges ahead as we move into the future of reefer transportation? First, let’s define reefer cargo and talk about the challenges ahead.

What Is Reefer Cargo?

Reefer is an industry slang term for a refrigerated cargo container, typically used to transport perishable goods such as food and pharmaceuticals. A reefer trailer is temperature-controlled and insulated to ensure a consistent temperature for these perishable items.

Some of the goods shipped and why they need a reefer refrigeration container are:

  • 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. Even a slight temperature variation could result in costly spoilage.
  • 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 maintain a minus 70 degrees Celsius, and the Moderna vaccine required minus 20 Celsius. Their transport came to be called an “ultra-cold chain.”
  • Flowers and plants: Shipping flowers and plants requires cool temperatures where temperatures that are too cold or too hot cold kill them or cause wilting, making them unsellable.
  • Fine art: Valuable works of art are very susceptible to temperature extremes; a sweltering trailer could destroy an invaluable historic work of art.

Three Challenges Facing Reefer Cargo Operations

The same concerns exist for shippers regardless of what type of temperature-sensitive goods are shipped. Shippers care about getting their products safely to the receiver, which comes down to managing exceptions now, preventing exceptions in the future, and continually improving their supply chains.

High-stakes reefer cargo exceptions management

Exceptions are only managed when they are immediately known. First, learning about a reefer temperature problem that happened 24 hours earlier is often too late to manage it successfully. When the stakes are as high as they are with refrigerated shipments, even an hour or two might be too late to save an entire load.

Shippers need to know of the problem when it happens and have access to the data to devise a solution best.

Poor reefer cargo visibility

Every shipper benefits from seeing the location and status of their cargo in real-time, but none more so than those shipping temperature-sensitive cargoes. Every hour matters when goods are perishable, and the inability to locate a shipper’s freight in the supply chain can be devastating.

A lack of reefer monitoring frustrates attempts to communicate with supply chain partners when ETAs change or exceptions occur, only compounding the problems.

Lack of Actionable Reefer Cargo Data

Many shippers now say that data is essential to their day-to-day operations, but not all data is equal. When accumulated as raw data, a shipper is left with millions of data points to dig through and determine which is relevant and what it all means.

Data alone opens up new insights. However, the shipper wastes time and resources understanding and deciphering the data, often requiring expensive in-house experts. It's often messy and complicated. As a result, the true extent of the gains goes unrealized.

When data is streamlined and provides on-demand actionable insights that show shippers the KPIs that matter to them, they have an accurate picture of what has happened, how they have performed, and ways to prevent supply chain problems in the future.

Facing Reefer Cargo Challenges, Shippers Turn to Technology

Shippers have turned to technology to build supply chain resiliency and overcome the ongoing challenges of reefer shipping. Tech-enabled solutions allow them to see their freight in real-time, keep up to date with container event milestones, get immediately alerted of exceptions, and gain full use of data.

Using APIs (application programming interfaces) to exchange data between several applications, shippers can quickly realize the visibility, data analysis, and exception alerts they need to control their supply chains. Access to real-time information across their supply chain streamlines stakeholder communication, improving collaboration. Shippers are immediately alerted to exceptions and able to find solutions before the price tag can increase.

With the ongoing challenges to successful reefer logistics, reefer cargo container tracking software gives shippers the visibility and analytics that result in supply chain resiliency.

With the ability to see reefer locations in real-time, shippers have a bird’s eye view of improving supply chain performance. They know when milestones occur, and the state of their freight and can plan for exceptions.

Data sorted by AI into standardized milestones results in actionable analytics that shippers use to understand past performance, build carrier scorecards, and compare supply chains. Armed with this information, they know their operations, find opportunities for optimization, and prepare for future challenges.

In a Growing Reefer Cargo Industry, Shippers Turn To Vizion API

Every reefer shipment carries a much higher potential for cargo loss due to the temperature sensitivity of the goods. Everything is always on the line, and as reefer dependency increases, the stakes only grow.

When everything is on the line, shippers need the ability to know the location of their shipments, receive exception alerts, and understand the data. The enhanced collaboration and control resulting from visibility and analytics are changing the reefer game, getting loads where they need to be safely and on time.

Vizion API is the reefer shipper’s game changer, giving them control over unruly supply chains. Using Vizion API, shippers have access to the following:

  • Real-time shipment tracking
  • Standardized milestone events across carriers
  • Exception push notifications
  • Exception cause codes
  • Carrier ETAs
  • Process automation
  • Complete data analytics and forecasting

With Vizion API, shippers streamline communication among stakeholders due to the unprecedented ability to know locations and exceptions in real-time.

Using properly compiled, standardized, and analyzed data from Vizion API, gives shippers an accurate picture of the past, opening a future of successes. In addition, they know how they performed, giving them a benchmark for current execution.

Shippers that use Vizion API realize unprecedented reefer supply chain resiliency.

Book a demo with Vizion API today and see the difference in reefer supply chain control.

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