Inventory tracking is essential for every business in order to decrease shrinkage, reduce costs, improve sales, and conduct efficient operations. However addressing temperature-sensitive assets, such as Food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and electronic components is critical for safety reasons. Throughout this blog post, we will discuss temperature-controlled asset tracking, its importance, challenges, and ways to improve it.

What is temperature-controlled asset tracking?

As the name indicates, it refers to tracking products that have special climate requirements, aka cold chain. The products that need climate monitoring are varied such as vaccines, medications, blood donations, fresh food, cosmetics, and even electronic products. Temperature-sensitive tracking can be divided into different ranges of temperatures:

  • Room temperature: between 20-25 C
  • Refrigerated temperature: 2-8 C
  • Cryogenic temperature:  below 0 and as low as -150 C

Besides temperature, other elements can also be tracked, such as humidity and light, which are equally important for certain products and assets.

Why temperature sensitive asset tracking is so crucial?

Tracking operations encompassing not just location but also expiration dates, temperature, light, and humidity levels ensure that products are delivered in their prime condition.

For example, selling products before they expire, ensuring that shorter expiration dates will be sold before those with longer expiration dates. A feature like this is essential for reducing food waste in the food and beverage industry.

Additionally, products that are kept in incorrect conditions can spoil and become unsellable. Measuring temperature at any stage along the supply chain help prevent this spoilage.

However, in more critical situations, such as food safety, failure to comply with regulations can lead to illnesses. And in the pharmaceutical industry, medications and vaccines that aren’t maintained as required can lose their effect or even become dangerous (or in certain conditions even lead to death).

Thus consistent monitoring of the storing and transporting conditions is critical not only for the business's success but also for public health.

What are the struggles in cold chain tracking?

In addition to the common struggles every business has regarding tracking its assets, tracking items that require certain regulations and temperatures get much more complicated. Here are some of the most common pain points when tracking temperature-sensitive assets:

Data accuracy and integrity

Maintaining the quality of temperature-sensitive assets is crucial, as exposure to incorrect temperatures can lead to damage or complete loss of their utility. However, with assets changing hands multiple times, it's hard to ensure all parties involved comply with the required regulations. As a result, businesses face significant difficulties in guaranteeing the accuracy and reliability of data throughout the entire supply chain process.

Temperature variability

The temperature can fluctuate significantly during transportation and storage, leading to the risk of asset spoilage or damage. One of the most common difficulties regarding the cold chain is maintaining a consistently low temperature throughout the entire flow.

Compliance with regulatory requirements

Many industries dealing with low-temperature asset tracking, such as pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, have strict temperature control and asset monitoring regulations for safety reasons. These regulatory requirements also might change based on place and item,  making compliance with regulatory requirements confusing and challenging.

Security and tampering

Low-temperature assets may be at risk of theft or tampering, especially during transport. Therefore, ensuring all parties handle the assets correctly and track them all to ensure nothing goes missing along the way is a big struggle.

Equipment calibration

A critical aspect of cold chain tracking involves verifying and adjusting the accuracy of temperature sensors and monitoring devices used to track temperature-sensitive assets. Even if a sensor shows numbers that meet requirements but eventually the product spoils, the business is still  responsible. As a result, businesses put a lot of effort to calibrate their equipment.

How can enterprises improve their temperature-controlled asset tracking?

Advanced tracking technologies

Invest in advanced tracking devices and sensors that offer real-time temperature monitoring and can withstand extremely cold temperatures along with other tracking capabilities such as humidity, and light. Combine the smart sensors with cloud-based inventory software for full visibility across all supply chain locations with real-time alerts that allows you to identify errors in real time.

Employee training and awareness

Train personnel involved in the cold chain process to handle temperature-sensitive assets properly and understand the importance of maintaining the integrity of the cold chain. If outsourced vendors are assisting with the process, ensure they are committed to handle sensitive assets appropriately.

Secure packaging and tamper-evident seals

Use specialized thermal packaging to maintain a stable temperature and protect assets during transportation. Also, implement tamper-evident seals to enhance security and prevent unauthorized access.

Compliance and regulatory adherence

Stay up to date with industry regulations and compliance standards related to cold chain logistics. Implement tracking solutions that provide audit trails and compliance reporting to avoid any errors.

In conclusion, temperature-controlled asset tracking is crucial for industries handling sensitive products. It ensures optimal conditions during transportation and storage, reducing spoilage and protecting public health; however, challenges like data accuracy, temperature variability, and regulatory compliance must be addressed. Businesses can overcome these hurdles by investing in advanced tracking technologies, providing employee training, using secure packaging, and adhering to regulations. By doing so, they can maintain a reliable cold chain and ensure the safe delivery of temperature-sensitive assets throughout the supply chain.