Fleets leverage IT to streamline the business process

Fleets leverage IT to streamline the business process

In today’s regulatory and economic climate, it is becoming imperative for refrigerated transportation assets to be monitored and controlled in real time, according to Craig Montgomery, senior vice president of marketing for ORBCOMM Inc. As a result, fleets are increasingly embracing telematics technology.

ORBCOMM-ReeferTrakAs an example, Montgomery cites a recent contract signed by ORBCOMM’s StarTrak division to provide full two-way communication links with John Christner’s nationwide fleet of refrigerated rail and over-the-road trailers. The fleet will use ORBCOMM’s RT6000+, a two-way reefer telematics solution that provides comprehensive temperature, fuel management, maintenance and logistical applications services for its temperature-controlled cargo. ORBCOMM will also provide a robust Web application with advanced data reporting and analytics capabilities to increase in-transit visibility and efficiency of the fleet’s refrigerated transport operations. John Christner will fully integrate the trailer data with their back-office platform to gain significant fuel savings, optimize temperature compliance and increase responsiveness and customer satisfaction, which will contribute directly to their bottom line.

Drivers of the cold chain telematics revolution are regulatory and economic, Montgomery says. The U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed by President Obama in January 2011, is the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years. It requires importers to comply with U.S. food safety standards, including temperature compliance, and establishes new controls and mandates for preserving the chain of custody for temperature-sensitive cargos.

“Temperature compliance encompasses all facets of the documentation, maintenance and recording of cargo temperatures throughout the chain,” he says. “Most temperature-sensitive products have either a mandatory minimum or mandatory maximum temperature threshold, and some products have both. State-of-the-art technologies are now smart enough to know these metrics in real time and respond to variances while at the same time providing the essential recording elements of compliance.” Labor and fuel cost reductions and asset utilization are the major factors driving the adoption of telematics in the cold chain transport sector.

“Telematics technology is the key to maximizing efficiencies and mitigating excess expenses,” he says.

Real-time command and control telematics, which are fully integrated into reefer controllers, allow operation managers to manage nearly 100% of their daily use of refrigerated transport assets. This telematics integration, which utilizes the Internet, embedded sensors, GPS and long-range wireless connections, reduces yard and terminal labor costs, M&R labor costs and a variety of overhead costs associated with the everyday management of cargo, trucks, trailers, drivers and customers, Montgomery adds. Moreover, the remote manipulation of reefers allows for complete control of reefer fuel usage. Whether it is from abuse, neglect or even theft, today’s technologies provide instant visibility into fuel consumption at the individual asset and entire fleet level.

Montgomery asserts that the growth curve for adopting telematics technology in the cold chain sector is turning upward. “The value of information continues to go up while the cost of technology continues to come down,” he says. “Today’s cold chain telematics solutions not only deliver salient operational information in real time, they also support remote control of these assets, thus changing the game.”

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