Here at Able Freight, we love technology. Call us nerds, but we get super excited that consumers can order cold or frozen products from almost anywhere in the world, and get them in a matter of days. How exciting is that? When someone goes to the grocery store, he might pick out produce from another country, or another continent, without batting an eyelash. Even twenty years ago, that would have been unheard of in many cases!
Of course, technology never stops evolving. There’s always a new kink to be worked out or a new means of improving efficiency. These days it’s all about the warehouse. In a time when inventory ratios are on the evening news (see, we told you supply chain is exciting!) there’s more runway than ever for innovation. Here are a few of our favorite new, and upgraded cold chain technologies:
Robotics - Robots have gotten a lot of media exposure for their role in grocer’s micro fulfillment centers, but their benefits extend to warehouses of all sizes. The gains from robotics technology are myriad - faster operations, less human contact with potentially delicate products, a smaller margin of error. Within the cold chain, they can do jobs that are uncomfortable or unsafe for humans. Some providers are even utilizing robots as a social distancing aid! The future is here, and it involves robots working in concert with people.
Internet of Things - We’ve talked about this before. While the Internet of Things isn’t exactly a new technology, you can expect to see its wider adoption across the supply chain. We’ve learned that hooking everything up to the internet yields gains in visibility, efficiency, and most importantly for our purposes, cold chain monitoring! The technology can help pinpoint temperature fluctuations so that workers can address a problem as soon as possible (instead, of, say, finding out that a crate of vegetables is rotted after it reaches its destination.)
AI and Machine Learning - This is probably stating the obvious, but we’re going to go ahead and say it anyway. When you move and store a lot of products, you’re going to end up with a LOT of data. Better put it to good use!
Before 2020, cold chain providers were already starting to extract valuable insights from the piles of information that they had been gathering. And then, you guessed it, the ensuing chaos accelerated the timeline. Applying artificial intelligence to the supply can help identify weak spots and create better forecasts. Overall, bringing a more robust cold chain to a world that desperately needs it right now.
Visibility Platforms - We’re ahead of the curve on this one. The other categories that we’ve called out all got a big push from the pandemic, and the same applies here. Gartner predicts that by 2023, 50% of shippers will have invested in visibility technologies. Whether you’re shipping to a business or a consumer, your customer wants to know where their order is at all times. Luckily, this is a concept that we’ve been working on for years. Our in-house visibility product, DataHub will let you know where your goods are with one click of a button. Even during non-business hours (gasp!).
These are a few of our favorites. What technology are you most excited about? What do you think is the biggest gap that needs to be filled? We’d love to hear from you. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org