Ruchi Dogra (Co-founder & Director, FreightCrate Technologies)
Air cargo is an essential element of modern life across the world. Moving perishable goods across different zones across the world is made possible by air transport. It represents less than 1% of world trade by volume but is over 35% by value (source: IATA report). The reliance on air logistics is driven by the need for speed and efficiency in transporting high-value (of the product or its availability factor), time and temperature sensitive nature of cargo – especially the perishables.
Especially when it comes to perishables, the consequences extend from the onward supply chain to the issues related to quality, timeliness and standards to meet, causing an enormous opportunity loss if the logistics are not managed properly.
Technology advancements and its adoption by all stakeholders involved -the producers, distributors and logistics companies have made it now possible to address this challenge and provide for a much-needed solution.
Key technologies embraced by perishables which have to enable their movement by air cargo include:
- Sensor technologies: temperature, pressure, weather conditions, acidity levels etc are among the technologies which are enabling monitoring of the perishables all along the supply chain whether from B2B or B2C situation.
Stock monitoring, replenishment technologies are well integrated into the whole value chain triggering automated supply in a timely manner thus reducing wastages and helping monetize situational demands
- Product integrity is a facet of prime importance in the perishables for e.g. Fish supplies. Technologies like blockchain are enabling maintain the supplier to endpoint integrity and enable real-time tracking (with quality parameters) that makes smartphone-based technologies to assist logistics movement at intermediate points.
The convergence of key technologies of artificial intelligence, mathematical optimization, and blockchain is providing a leading platform of IoT to the perishables movement by air cargo.
With the emergence of this technology, it has given a boost to Industries like Pharmaceutical, Fresh Produce. Today the trends are showing that there’s has been a decline in electronics movement and rise in temperature control goods from fresh produce to Pharma products. With the advancement and evolution in the sophisticated and sensitive medicine, coupled by stringent Government and WHO regulations on transportation of drugs, there has been a spurt in innovations to protect these drugs from the climatic changes.
IoT is transforming the pharmaceutical industry rapidly, All stakeholders from airline to pharmaceutical companies to transporters will implement IoT devices to enhance the visibility, processes and to have better control of the entire supply chain process. In the past couple of years Healthcare logistics industry and logistics Service providers have been constantly working on improving medical and pharmaceuticals supply chain infrastructures as well as investing in new and emerging technologies to keep track of the conditions of the pharmaceutical products.
Air cargo industry had evolved from moving a temperature control products in a cardboard box to a highly sophisticated container (Environtainer) capable of not only maintaining the temperature conditions but records & monitor the important event of products while in transit. Use of IoT technology is not only playing a crucial role in ascertaining the product condition, the effectiveness of the drug in transit but also the adherence to the compliance or regulations on transportation.
Beyond all this, the emergence of consolidators who act as global distributors of perishables and the value of understanding that the airlines have for them has created an optimised air cargo handling model.
Airlines are now geared to handle the delivery requirements of perishables with greater certainty by having real-time access to available capacity, route optimisation models (with speed, reliability and cost benefits) using AI and predictive analytics technologies.