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At the core of dependable food safety is efficient cold chain management. Whether it be in pharmaceutical manufacturing or food factories, cold storage units can prevent costly spoilage and damaging recalls by keeping inventory within an acceptable temperature. However, studies suggest that nearly a quarter of all food products is thrown away every year as a result of fluctuating temperatures, leading to a $750 billion annual loss. 

Because cold storages are one of the roughest industrial environments, even common enterprise-grade devices may not be suitable for the dropping temperatures. This is problematic once inventory must be transported down the supply chain. Tracking devices must be ultra-rugged for durability, yet ideally adaptable for increased mobility. Facing rising demands for mobile temperature tracking, several businesses have sought to enhance connectivity and device durability in order to expand operational visibility for time-sensitive inventory traveling outside the warehouse. 

Connectivity and Durability Lead to Visibility 

Not only must ultra-rugged devices survive low temperatures, but they must also remain functional in the event of a sudden temperature change such as moving in and out of freezers.  As a Zebra Premier Solutions Partner, Avalon highlights the following three devices both durable and adaptable options to enhance temperature tracking:

  1.  Zebra’s New Electronic Temperature Sensors – Designed to simplify temperature tracking, Zebra’s newest electronic sensors can be added onto your storage unit to record temperatures in real-time and update data onto the cloud for easy remote access. Moreover, the EDGEVue tracking app can be deployed on any device, eliminating the need for a complete restructuring of your mobility solution.
  2.  Long-range push-to-talk connectivity – While temperatures are monitored in real-time, your field teams also require a way to communicate with little delay in the event any temperature changes must be made. Connectivity solutions such as Workforce Connect empower field teams with real-time task assignments, location history, and actionable insights delivered onto your Zebra handheld. 
  3.  The freezer-grade MC9300 mobile computer – Built on a legacy of tested durability, the MC9300 can be altered to meet the demands of cold storage with a freezer-rated battery, condensation-resistant screen, integrated heater, and higher IP ratings. 

Regardless which technology you choose to implement, the goal should always be to expand inventory visibility to protect temperature-sensitive products. Failure to do so has commonly resulted in:

  • Recalls that half productivity
  • Negative publicity that discourages brand loyalty
  • Legal action, fines, and missed compliance fees
  • Future recurrent audits
  • Disruptions in the supply chain that cause further delays

To prevent these from happening, Avalon recommends that you evaluate your temperature tracking system. Reach out to our automation specialists today for a step-by-step assessment of your current workflows to see where you can start expanding visibility within your operations. 

One of the biggest challenges set to impact supply chains in the years to come is reestablishing customer trust. The coronavirus pandemic simply enhanced previous concerns many customers already had surrounding product fabrication, compliance, order accuracy, etc. From retail goods to manufacturing parts, studies show consumers are more and more skeptical of supply chains, increasing the demand for transparent traceability to soothe worries such as: 

  • Brand’s ability to ensure safety – Only 35% of consumers actually believe the food industry is technologically capable of ensuring proper safety guidelines.
  • Delayed order tracking – Since 2017, it’s been estimated that over 90% of customers expect to be able to track their orders from start to finish, preferably in real-time.
  • Seamless returns in the event of inaccurate orders – At least 96% of customers admit to returning to a business that offers easy returns, which means complicated reverse logistics can deter over half of prospective clients.

Whether you run a business-to-business or a business-to-customer operation, no company is immune to disruptions, and these disruptions -whether via a cyberattack or a sudden spike in demand- can either weaken or strengthen your brand’s identity. While disruptions can happen at any given moment, traceability solutions offer preventive measures to protect consumer trust and minimize damage. Below are 5 ways companies are re-establishing trust in the New Normal: 

  1. Verified contact tracing and social distancing – Needless to say, health concerns are far from gone and will most likely be around for a while. That’s why contact tracing solutions have remained crucial to prevent mass germ spread while targeting potential infections without completely halting productivity. Efficient systems like Zebra’s MotionWorks Proximity have recorded a 75% reduction in proximity events within one week of deployment all while providing an easy-to-follow traceability system between events for scheduled alerts.

  2. Real-time notifications – Time is now more than money. It is also safety and possibly your first defense against sudden changes. Real-time visibility, whether through RFID technology or high-speed WiFi connectivity, equips your workforce with valuable updates as they happen, allowing your teams to respond proactively to change. 

  3. Dependable data security – To mitigate cyberthreats, businesses continue to migrate to supported operating systems such as Android. Zebra’s fortified Android goes a step further by embedding automatic OS updates, government-grade encryption, two-factor authentication, and customizable security parameters along with recurrent security patches. 

  4. Long-range networking to connect customers and field teams – To enable tracking for field teams, long-range and flexible networking systems must survive in difficult environments at all times. Not only does this allow customers to track orders, but it also connects field teams to any real-time updates and changes in the warehouse. 

  5. More safety stock – Depending on inventory type, increasing safety stock may be helpful to prevent stockouts during spikes in demand. To efficiently increase stock quantity without losing track of in-house inventory, we recommend adding automated data capture technology that connects to your inventory management system, along with easy-to-ready durable labels.

To see how you can adapt any of these methods into your business, reach out to our modernization specialists and see how you can set your operations on a firm footing to face 2021’s new and recurrent challenges.