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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ask Langham: Real-Time Temperature Monitoring

Managing the cold chain for pharmaceuticals and medical device products is more important than ever in the post-pandemic era—and its rapid growth confirms it. Analysts project a 45% expansion in the medical device market by 2029, making it worth more than $718 billion. For pharma, the growth rate is 54%, valuing it over $861 billion by 2028.

Yet the corresponding growth of the cold chain monitoring market that helps manage these industries and other temperature-sensitive supply chains dwarfs them both in percentage. Global cold chain tracking and monitoring are expected to grow 258% by 2030. A large portion of that includes real-time temperature management.

Despite the growing need for temperature tracking across the supply chain, adoption remains relatively low. That is finally changing. Langham is here to answer the most frequently asked questions on real-time temperature monitoring for your cold chain.

What Is Real-Time Temperature Monitoring?

Real-time monitoring uses sensors to measure and record temperatures for shipments. Temperature tracking happens from a product’s preparation for shipping to its final delivery point. The technology transmits the information to a remote hub for management. Depending on its setup, a device can send proactive alerts warning of potential temperature excursions. The sensors also track temperature fluctuations outside of normal tolerances and send to-the-minute alerts allowing people to take immediate action before permanent damage occurs.

Why Is Temperature Tracking Important?

Research shows the pharmaceutical industry loses $35 billion annually due to temperature-related issues. Even a one-degree fluctuation can affect the efficacy of a lifesaving medicine. A survey of pharmaceutical leaders found that 87% do not have full visibility of their supply chain through the last mile of delivery. That poor line of sight also affects the food chain with 40% of losses occurring during the supply chain before reaching the consumer.

Remarkably, many leaders from both industries say they rely on spreadsheets, pen and paper, and after-the-fact temperature reports to assess a shipment’s viability. Bad guesses can create state and federal compliance issues, generate costly product losses, and make people seriously ill.

How Does Continuous Temperature Tracking Work?

Continuous tracking uses wireless sensors that sit inside a unit—such as a refrigerated truck or warehouse freezer—or attach directly to a shipment to track its temperature in real-time. The data feeds into a centralized system that collects and analyzes the information.

The platform integrates the data as shipments move or change hands across the supply chain, ensuring products stay at the required temperature. The system is programmed with temperature thresholds, allowing the wireless sensors to create alerts when potential or actual excursions arise. Monitoring systems increasingly incorporate the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for predictive actions to avoid the multi-million dollar losses that individual temperature excursions can create. The technology also stores the data allowing for report generation and post-event analyzes to improve supply chain safety and meet regulatory requirements.

By comparison, companies operating without end-to-end real-time temperature monitoring often use an “alarm clock” technique. This method involves manually timing how long a product has been outside of temperature thresholds to determine its viability. A significant culprit of temperature excursions, particularly problematic for this risky approach, is the transition time between transportation method and long-term cold storage. Shipments can vary by several degrees in just a matter of minutes when moving on and off a truck. Making accurate assessments using the alarm clock technique is nearly impossible.

A better alternative, but far less sophisticated than real-time temperature monitoring systems, are PDF data loggers. This technology tracks product temperature using a start and stop time. The data is reactive and aggregated, often making it difficult to isolate when temperature deviations occurred or why.

What Is a Control Tower for Managing Temperature Excursions?

Control towers collect data from different sources via Internet of Things (IoT) devices, feed the information into a database, and configure it into an easy-to-read dashboard. Common cold chain control tower data inputs include product temperature, shipment location, external temperature and weather conditions, and transit time.

A control tower provides end-to-end shipment visibility by collecting and disclosing relevant information to all stakeholders. As a result, anyone relying on the safety and efficacy of the shipment can track its journey. The real-time monitoring of these control towers allows stakeholders to mitigate or prevent problems that can create temperature excursions. For example, desert heat may require temporary temperature adjustments to offset the impact, which can be adjusted remotely in advance.

You’ve Got Questions. Langham Logistics Has Answers.

Ready to get control of your cold chain? Langham offers best-in-class real-time temperature monitoring from point A to Z. Sophisticated technology provides up-to-the-minute tracking to prevent and immediately correct even the smallest temperature excursion. Our control tower system manages 24/7 monitoring, giving us a clear view of every shipment—from pinpoint GPS accuracy to a fraction of a degree inside. Langham is a leader in the pharmaceutical and life science industries for a reason. Find out why many of the biggest companies in the world trust Langham Logistics to manage their most valuable freight.

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