Cold Chain Quality Monitoring

In order to keep food and other temperature sensitive items fresh and safe, proper distribution must be practiced

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What is Cold Chain Quality Monitoring?

In order to keep food and other temperature sensitive items fresh and safe, proper distribution must be practiced. That means during the entire distribution process like being stored, handled, and transported, etc., must be done correctly and kept at the proper temperatures and in specific environmental conditions. If the temperature is not controlled properly, perishable goods can go bad and a lot of money can be lost in the process.

Therefore, companies and people who do handle perishable goods need to find solutions that help cold chain quality monitoring in the most effective way possible. Often times, the cold chain process is affected negatively because there are breakdowns in cold chain monitoring process due to human error, incorrect transportation, unforeseen delays, and improper emergency planning. It is imperative we find better solutions to help keep cold chain monitoring as precise and effective as possible

Using IoT and Cold Chain Monitoring

With IoT showing itself everywhere, of course, it has made its way to cold chain monitoring as well. With the use of IoT, companies that handle perishable items like food and pharmaceuticals can monitor every step of the process to make sure the products are being handled safely and correctly. Operations managers can monitor and adjust temperature settings for changing climates, they can tell if a package has been damaged, they can see if there have been any delays in the shipping or transportation process, and they can even detect various humans errors with the use of special sensors.

In the future, we can expect to see even more advances, mostly related to sensors technology. Sensors will get even better at picking up on issues and errors so that information can then be sent back to managers so those issues can be addressed quickly and efficiently. Issues may be detected before they even happen and become an issue, so we can prevent any spoilage before then contents of the package becomes affected. This is result in significant amounts of money from being lost and companies can maintain their products much more effectively.

The Use of Smart Packaging

Smart packaging also plays a pivotal and important role in cold chain management. In the most basic form, sensors are placed into the packages of food, pharmaceuticals, etc., and a smart package is born. These are generally chemical sensors or biosensors that are able to directly monitor the safety and quality of the contents of the package.

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These sensors are able to pick up on the freshness of an item, if there have been any leaks, if there are any pathogens present, carbon dioxide, changes in pH, oxygen, or even temperature. For the contents of packages that fully rely on temperature and environmentally safe conditions, the ability for the actual package to monitor these factors is critical. The information collected from these sensors within the package is sent through a cloud system back to the people in charge of transportation and monitoring quality. This ensures that the contents of the packages always remain controlled, safe, quality can be guaranteed. As of now, most pharmaceutical companies do not use smart packing for their medications, especially during the shipping, moving, and supply chain process. One the medication leaves the production facility, besides basic shipping information regarding the products location, there is no information available as to what is happening to the product, what conditions the product is in, etc. This can often lead to issues with quality control. Therefore, the introduction of NFC sensors can help monitor important environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, shock, oxygen level and more to help maintain optimal product conditions, particularly with important items like pharmaceuticals.

We also see the use of FRID in cold chain monitoring and smart packaging as well. This is a small sensor tag that is able to track a product in real-time in cold chain monitoring. FRID works through a special reader and a smart tag that is attached to the product itself. The smart tag can keep track of vital information such as temperature and humidity level and incorporates various sensors, microcontroller, memory ship, and FRID antenna to allow the product and reader communicate with on another. Data collected by the sensors are sent and stored in cloud-based systems that can be accessed by managers who are responsible for making sure a perishable product stays as safe and as fresh as possible.