Technology, sustainability and holistic cooperation

Technology, sustainability and holistic cooperation: the next evolution of 'cold chain' procurement

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The cold chain is set to experience extensive technological advancement.

But, before these sophisticated technologies can be deployed in full force, a culture of collaboration needs to be fostered.

One of the unexpected, long-term shifts brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was the spotlight shed on procurement and supply chain. Indeed, these departments – across all industries – have felt the impact of this.

But, in the case of the so-called ‘cold chain’, the effect is even more pronounced.

After the surge in global demand for critical vaccines, the cold chain logistics industry became of critical importance.

Reuters and Maersk’s report explores the current state of the cold chain industry, sharing experts’ insights into the next steps to help it flourish.

The growth of the cold chain

The cold chain has enjoyed consistent growth over the last few years, with its 2018 market volume (of approx $160bn) set to rise to a $600bn value by 2026.

But now, even though the demand for the Pfizer vaccine has largely plateaued, other circumstances mean the industry requires major reconfigurations.

The current energy crisis, plus post-pandemic recovery and geopolitical instabilities, mean that the deployment of new technologies offers invaluable opportunities.

IoT, apps, the cloud, and data-driven cold chain technologies

In the face of these hurdles, procurement and supply chain leaders in the cold chain industry are increasingly turning to data intelligence and data-driven technologies.

The capture – and effective utilisation – of data regarding location, quality, humidity and, of course, temperature allow those involved in the chain to make more effective decisions, keep costs low, improve sustainability standards, and maintain strong customer relationships.

From there, IoT devices, cloud-based solutions and even smartphone apps spell ‘a bright future for cold chain logistics.’

However, the report stressed that data cannot be used to its full advantage without human intervention, and collaboration between all parties involved in the cold chain.

Cold chain collaboration
‘What this needs is a forward-thinking, collaborative approach, rooted in cultural change.’

The report continues to stress the need for ‘the establishment of a comprehensive, end-to-end cold chain.’

Rather than a linear approach – which may be sufficient for the majority of supply chain processes – the cold chain requires extensive cooperation from everyone involved. Only then can these technologies be introduced at scale.

Key takeaways – what should CPOs be doing to advance the cold chain?
  • Accurate data capturing is at the core of technological advancements
  • But, technologies cannot be successfully integrated without a culture of collaboration 
  • Everyone involved in the cold chain needs to have a harmonious approach to the entire process, including the technologies being introduced
  • Sustainability and resilience are two targets that come hand in hand 

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