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Selection of a Cold Chain Monitoring Solution Series #5: Cold Chain Monitoring and Data Harvesting

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Cold Chain Monitoring and Data Harvesting

Mark Roemer:

So if you look at the supply chain here, it's another graphical display. You have multiple cycles in the middle and every time you have one of the cycles they use the single use logger or an online logger to monitor that segment of the supply chain. But this multiple cycle can happen 3, 4, 5 times and as a result you have fragmented information in different systems from multiple suppliers. What we want to do is have the box you see coming out of that factory on the left, the first box, you want to put the sensor in there so the same sensor is going to be in there during all those multiple cycles and still in there when it's going to be unpacked. You don't need all this data consolidation in the middle to be able to know what has actually happened to the box. So it makes that whole process a lot simpler.

And the other thing we can do, and that's on the right side, which is also, let's say rather a new concept. It's we call it "T.O.S." or "T.O.R.," that's another term people use "time out of storage" or "time out of refrigeration." What people have is a budget, then the budget is how much time can the product be in refrigeration or out of storage before it can or cannot be delivered further down the line to the next handover points. If in steps one and two, people use less of the budget than they're allotted so that the allotted ones are on the top 1, 2, 3, 4, you see them on the right side. And you see in the middle is what they, what we actually measured. And then you see in step three, normally this shipment would be disqualified and destroyed or shredded because it went over the time out of storage that was budgeted for the step. But since we had a budget left in steps one and two, this can still proceed down the line because it's not over the total budget yet. So this saves pharmaceutical companies money because you don't destroy products that are still good to use.

And then we can do this because we use a unique architecture for infrastructure because all the sensors and the gateways and the smartphone are used as a gateway, they deliver all this data into our end cloud, the big data store. But all this data needs to be put into context and the context that we use is a local platform, Mendix. It's one of the most highly valued low-code platforms by Gartner Research. This platform allows you to know, evaluate data that creates customer portals and creates the smartphone app using this platform. We also can integrate with other platforms with API's. We have already done a lot of work in that field so people can easily connect to our platform so they can get the data out that they need. So that's very, very important and it's, it's lightning-fast which is also very critical.

And another issue that's critical is how fast are our sensors synchronized. In logistics, you don't have a lot of time, so you can't have a sensor sit around for, minutes or hours on end to synchronize data to the cloud so it needs to be very, very quick. If we see a sensor we connect it to our end in the cloud at a rate higher than 9,000 data points a minute. It's actually about double what we synchronized, so one month of data, it's about 8,400 data points in about 34 seconds. So it's really, really quick. Even if you have to synchronize a month of data, all it needs is about a minute when it's in range of a smartphone or a gateway to synchronize its data into the cloud.

Of course, we back up the sensor with tremendous battery life and also storage. So the smaller one (the ANT) has 210,000 data points with over two years of data storage. And even in the last month, I can still synchronize the data from day one up until the last day. And we have the ANT Lux that has the sensor to detect light opening or in the box's opening. You can actually create events that depend on whether or not the box has actually been opened. One of our customers uses this to start a shipment because they send a pre-configured box to a client. The box is opened, the client puts his product in the box is closed, and that starts the shipment of that client and the client ships the box to its destination, the destination scans the box and generates the shipping report so its all automated. As we already discussed, we can have 250 sensors online transmitting to the gateway. Gateways load balance automatically. This is the way we vision box monitoring.

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