Optimizing the Cool Chain Link through Analytics

Unni Krishnan

Getting more out of your cold chain through a coherent solutions for your Temperature sensitive and regulatory challenges

A forward looking Cool Chain professionals uses data to improve service levels, transparency, and visibility to grow their business. Way back in the years the first instance in my career I came the terminology “Cool Chain” is during my stint with the Canadian International Trade firm(EXIMCAN) based in Toronto. As head of Global Logistics I was responsible for handling huge volumes of perishable commodity shipped through Temperature controlled Reefer containers. I knew that things could go wrong any moment during the multiple handling stages, from supplier Mfg. plants to origin Ports and to the final destination ports. There were possibilities of weak link in any of the legs and it could disrupt the movement, Reefer Temperature failures to holdup at docks or any of the transit points all the while maintaining the right temperature for the commodity being shipped.

Back in those days there were not much information available handy and you needed to interact with industry experts and people who were already were running the show. I came across Radharamana Panicker, CEO of Cargo Service Centre(CSC)and I was also trying to understand the way they were operating for KLM Airlines and at Perishable  Cargo Terminals at Air Cargo Complexes. Over the years I have seen the operations expanding in India and currently handling Perishable Cargo at multiple cities. I went on and understood that gathering information on cool chain operations in real time allows Freight forwarders, Cargo handlers, Suppliers, product manufacturers and clients to ensure that any interruptions or violations do not damage their products or reduce product efficacy.

The risk is higher in case of Healthcare where in Vaccines and Drugs in transit, as gathering location-tagged environmental data can also assist with audits when a biological product or vaccine has spoiled, and a chain of custody needs to be identified to assign liability can involve many custodians making chain-of-custody monitoring all the more essential. Location monitoring can be used to combat drug counterfeiting and shipment theft as well. The need for Analytics in the healthcare was evident to me early in the year 2005 as I was also a part of Johnson & Johnson Medicals Analytical Team and focused on implementation of automation in the sector and utilizing the data for competitive advantage while ensuring product availability to hospitals spread across the Asia pacific region.

With the role of Technology and innovative solutions covering wireless temperature and humidity monitor provides real-time, location aware tracking of cold chain products during shipment. Real-time, fixed-location monitoring device then safeguards products from their arrival at a Cargo Hubs, Labs or clinics until the moment of use.  These sensing provides a suite of cold chain monitoring and analysis technologies for the healthcare and Perishable commodity industry. 

“But the question looms large as to what do you achievewith this huge amount ofreal-time minute-by-minute data ? “

Having raw/unstructured data gathering is not enough and to ensure cold chain integrity required using rich analytics algorithmic tools to turn raw data into actionable recommendations and early warnings which can improve cool chain processes, guide the business decisions, and prevent cold chain failures before they occur. The Sensor and Tracking based monitoring devices applies a range of analytical techniques to derive useful information from data captured and this includes descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive based analytic layers that each help solve business problems.

“When It Comes To Building An Optimised Cold Chain, There Really Is Strength In Analytics “

Superior technologies and innovative solutions, processes and in-depth analytics would design your optimised cold chain and it enables you to evaluate all available cool chain networks and pinpoint the most reliable, cost-effective and time-efficient routes for your shipments. When you take a proactive approach to understanding and handlingwith continuously improving your cold chain shipment process to safeguard the accuracy of your product in-transit you can ensure precise, environmentally controlled handling to protect your shipments at every point in the transport process so that your shipments arrive intact and on time using advanced sensory technologies. Sensing would only be a part of the story, as traceability is also a key to reporting with collaborative tools for transparency and layers of accountability for effective decision making.

To build the world’s best cold chain for moving products, you would need to follow a process that starts and ends with analysis to drive continuous improvement. Developing and maintaining an industry-specific quality management and adherence system, which mitigates the risks of temperature-critical logistics by demanding that all parties involved with your shipment including your team, partners and suppliers meet the most demanding temperature and quality handling protocols from your product’s departure to its destination as the stakes are high when you move products worth millions of dollars and not leaving it into the hands of fate.

Automating to Analysis for optimised operations

Identify &Analyse: Atthe initial identification and analysis stage, you would need to identify your immediate and future cold chain objectives. This would include the assessment of all product requirements and factors that could influence your packaging or shipment process. From environment, to partners, to cost, to handling you would need to take everything into account before you set out to build your cool chain.

Optimising: At the optimisation stage, you wouldneed to develop your optimised cold chain. You would have to take the information gathered in the analyse stage to lay out the framework for how you could best use your services to build your top cold chain. You would have to outline the compliance and packaging requirements, temperature profilesand much more, and then implement the technologies to best suit them and work collaboratively.

Manage: When you at the managing stage, the process is centred on constant surveillance and proactive intervention. In the previous stages, as you established all the tools and techniques and automation which is necessary to maintain oversight over your shipment, and then you are putting them to use to make sure your product moves from departure to destination without error.

Review: And finally you come to the stage when your reviews, feedback into your early stage, of analyse. In the review stage, you collect all data, carryout reporting, investigate most adverse events, and undertake corrective and preventative actions and more to understand how you can improve your cold chain. You would also use the analytics on the data that is gathered in this stages to improve your analysis in stage one.

Every Cold Chain you build, youmay have to follow a process that starts and ends with Analysis to drive continuous improvements. Within the process, you may have to assure Quality, Visibility, Accuracy and efficiency by supporting your cold chain with customisable features and services which will evolve a period of time as per the process/product criticality, geographies and operations.


If the industry were to decipher the “Make In India campaign”, a certain vertical would cover Healthcare industry of the manufacturing industry and would grow up rapidly and India would occupy the dominant position of being one of the largest producers of generic drugs in Asia. Having said that, there are major loopholes in the system which could potentially still persist and pose as a serious threat to the industry. Backed by numbers it is said that medicines and serums used to develop vaccines are highly sensitive to temperature and often end up losing their potency owing to exposure to temperatures outside the acceptable range of 18ºC to 25ºC or 2ºC to 8ºC laid down by the WHO.

As consultants while bidding for a project for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) with GAVI Alliance for Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN) a vaccination Program for multiple states, the availability of comprehensive information became evident.  It was identified that a big chunk of this medicinal produce would lay to waste due to exposure to inappropriate temperatures during transport. The only options available are gel packs and dry ice which has its limitations too and I doubt if these vaccine or drug being administered to a patientswould be in a position to fight the disease in itself. Lack of standardisation and effectively no realtime temperature measurements or sensing places companies to essentially hoodwink the process and let this most unscientific method pass as ‘Safe Cool Chain Transport’.

I would like to summarize it as it’s about taking a proactive approach to managing and continuously improving your cold chain shipment process to safeguard the accuracy of your product in-transit regardless of the size or complexity of your cold chain, you could incorporate flexible technologies to safeguard the accuracy of your product in-transit.combined with custom data collection, reporting and analytics tools with 24/7/365 access and by enabling active, Web-based shipment tracking and near real-time monitoring of sensory data, your teams can provide your industry with the best transparency, traceability, reporting and collaboration tools to keep their products safe.

“What Does an Optimised

Cold Chain Mean For

You’re Bottom Line? “

What you Get optimizing your cool chain

Are you ready to put the Analytical Logics in the heart of your product logistics? Get ready to reap the benefits.

1. Sustainable sales, Revenue and Customer Satisfaction

  • Save time and money by avoiding product spoilage
  • Save lives by preventing healthcare workers from administering damaged products to patients.
  • Lesser spoilages converts in to better profit margins and revenue.
  • Improved customer service: Your customers can plan on your product reaching them on time and in proper condition a direct reflection of your brand image

2. Improved operational efficiencies and higher cost savings

  • Reduced cycle times and inventory optimisation
  • Decreased re-manufacturing and redundant shipping costs of damaged product
  • Less need for your internal administrative and quality control efforts

3. Enhanced Regulatory and Standard Compliances and Adherences to protocols

  • Avoidance of legal and regulatory issues as well as penalties and costs of poor quality.
  • Ensure compliance with state and federal safety regulations, and save time through automatic data gathering and reporting.
  • Make better equipment purchasing decisions and develop better cold storage processes
  • Documented process and data collection to verify compliance with global shipment norms and governmental regulations.

About the AuthorUnni Krishnan completed Post Graduation Degree Program, with MBA & Electronic Commerce from an Asian Business School. He primarily worked with a Canadian International Trade firm and later on with Johnson and Johnson Medical, Analytics Division for the Asia Pacific Region. He also held several senior positions at Enetek Business Consulting a French firm and spearheaded its operations in France, Romania, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Middle East, India. He Co-Founded Uzzi Business Consulting LLP a Management Consulting company way back in 2009. He assumed senior responsibility with Value Chain Solutions, for the Asia Pacific & Middle East Region. Unnikrishnan, is an expert energizing professional, who has lead several MNC Organizations in Medical Device & Diagnostics, Pharma, Cement, Agro chemicals, Port Operators to Steel Co., Aeronautics to Automotive sectors to higher levels of performance & Customer Satisfaction in the Logistics & SCM Sector, by using his extensive Global Exposure and qualifications in Supply Chain, Business Transformation, Business Process Modeling and Re-engineering, and other Corporate functions for developing & implementing the right IT- driven Supply Chain Breakthrough Strategies.He has worked in various Strategic, tactical & Operational projects related to Business transformation, strategy realignment, process re-engineering etc., and has evolved & establish Supply Chain & Logistics systems leading to better Customer experience & Operational excellence. He has a passion for driving to the Next Generation of Virtual, Intelligence-based, Customer Driven Supply Chain.

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