Ice cream — one of the world's most-loved desserts — is best served when it is frosty cold. To keep the favorite dessert in its best shape and flavor, ice cream supply chains across the globe push to keep up with quality compliance. But, with the ever-increasing communication gap and unavailability of clean data in ice cream supply chains, are they able to deliver on the promise of quality? Well, one of the world's leading ice cream makers is making it possible with Roambee. Read on to find out how!
It is the story of one of the world's largest ice cream makers and how it is making sure to deliver on its promise of quality ice creams with Roambee's real-time cold chain monitoring system. The manufacturer in question has a yearly revenue upwards of $5.5 billion in the South Asia market alone and has an extensive ice cream supply chain. This manufacturer dealt with ice cream supply chain problems, such as the constant efforts to maintain the storage temperature between -18°C and -25°C. This blog will discuss these ice cream supply chain problems, but more on that later.
In the South Asia market, this company operates 20 plants in India and serves around 700 million Indian customers with a diverse product portfolio. Their manufacturing plants have several large cold chain-specific warehouses within them. These warehouses need to comply with stringent norms put in place by the authorities. In addition, the company also has warehouses in the distribution centers, that need to comply with same compliance norms.
To improve their product compliance and deliver high standards for the customers, the ice-cream producer wanted to move from a passive cold chain monitoring solution towards an active one. A system that offers them real-time cold chain visibility and the ability to act for dynamic temperature correction.
Inefficient Operations with Passive Cold Chain Monitoring System
Surprisingly, temperature data loggers are still the go-to solution for cold chain monitoring duties for many ice cream manufacturers. According to research, temperature data loggers account for a whopping 30% of the entire industry regarding cold chain monitoring solutions.
But, this thriving domain, which also has a projected CAGR of more than 7% from 2020 to 2027, has a fundamental problem — postmortem data. The idea of temperature data loggers is to collect temperature fluctuation data at set intervals and then later retrieve it with the help of external computers — needing manual intervention.
The data is then analyzed to check for deviations, and based on postmortem reports, an estimate is made for future references. This constitutes a passive cold chain monitoring system and inefficient operations.
It means that the warehouses or reefers that these temperature data loggers were tracking might no longer have that ice-cream inventory from a previous temperature fluctuation. If any event had to happen with the stock due to temperature fluctuation, it could no longer be corrected or evaded. So, there’s always a looming uncertainty with this passive cold chain tracking approach. This leads to compliance issues that can dearly cost any cold chain-specific company.
The worst-case scenario — the ice creams kept in these cold storage warehouses are spoiled and can no longer be served to the customers. The use of temperature data loggers lead to two significant problems for this ice-cream manufacturer:
1. Product Spoilage
The ice-cream manufacturer was registering many product-spoilage events because of a passive cold chain monitoring system. The passive monitoring system, enabled by temperature data loggers, was creating product loss at two places.
At Warehouses: In its 20 plants scattered around India, the company has multiple cold storage-specific warehouses. These warehouses store the freshly produced ice creams, ready to be shipped to distribution centers around the country.
The old practice was to equip the facilities with temperature data loggers, which only provided data after a temperature fluctuation had already happened. It takes away the company's ability to swiftly reach out to the managing staff to avoid deteriorating the quality of ice creams or product spoilage.
The old data was just not enough to assume the conditions a warehouse might be operating in and rarely gave an accurate picture. It led to regular lapses in maintaining the correct temperature and delivering on the promise of quality, and risking its reputation.
Furthermore, apart from the warehouses at the plants, the company also has around 20 major distribution centers in India with cold storage warehouses. However, like the warehouses at the plants, these units were also using temperature data loggers and hence postmortem data — nowhere close to being real-time! And, since there is no access to real-time cold chain data, authorities could not make real-time decisions.
The primary problem was that the company could only determine any fluctuation in the temperature after it had occurred and had possibly led to sub-standard product quality. It means tracing and auditing past ice cream stock was even more difficult.
In transit: The second area where the company was facing product spoilage was during transit. The cold storage containers — aka reefers — also used data loggers to register temperature fluctuations.
Temperature fluctuations arising from supply chain excursions like unscheduled stops, prolonged dwell times, or regular opening and closing of reefer doors significantly increase product spoilage chances. The company also wasn't aware of any theft that might be occurring during the transit. This lack of clear real-time information also resulted in a decrease in actionability to correct these issues.
The outcome was the same — with postmortem data, the company didn't have an option if they received a bad ice cream batch than to discard it. There was no knowledge of the consignment's health during transit. The ideal temperature window to maintain quality ice cream is between -22 to -18, which leaves a tiny margin for error.
2. Inefficient Operations
Being a large company with multiple entities functioning together, the ice-cream manufacturer dealt with many inefficient operations in their supply chain visibility duties. The inefficiency in cold chain visibility was arising from two main factors.
Lack of data repositories: The company had no access to clean data from the temperature data loggers. The primary reason for this was that the data was not real-time and was not attached to a cloud service where the concerned quality compliance team can access it.
The temperature monitoring duties were fragmented: Apart from using a passive cold chain monitoring system, the company's warehouses worked more as independent entities than as an ecosystem, taking care of their own cold chain monitoring duties. Following a similar trend, the transport partners also had individual cold chain monitoring protocols.
In an event where the company wanted to audit a cold chain event emerging from temperature excursions, it became increasingly complex and lengthy to retrieve exact data. And the team sometimes scrambled many different resources scattered around a vast region like India to verify the origins of a bad batch of ice creams. It led to a time-consuming and inefficient passive cold chain monitoring process.
With its vast experience, the company realized the importance of real-time supply chain visibility, enabling the shift towards an active cold chain monitoring system.
Roambee’s Solution for Ice Cream Supply Chain Helped Bring Real-Time Cold Chain Visibility
Roambee offers an immersive, location-aware cold chain monitoring solution that can be deployed globally. The flexible solution fits into the ice cream manufacturer’s needs with its real-time temperature sensors that offer clean and reliable condition data, along with actionable insight. The AI-powered Roambee solution enabled the ice-cream manufacturer to counter the problems effectively, with the following critical solutions:
1. Real-Time Cold Chain Visibility and Actionability
Roambee’s solution offers a range of parameters to track, such as temperature, humidity, shock, light, and tilt. It is an easy-to-deploy, no-touch, tamper-proof design that needs minimum maintenance and personnel involvement. Roambee’s sensors offered real-time temperature and condition monitoring to the quality ice-cream maker in the context of temperature-controlled warehouse visibility.
The devices, mounted in the warehouse, register temperature at close intervals and relay the information to the Roambee Cloud. The Roambee data analytics platform constantly benchmarks the data with the compliance norms. If it registers fluctuations, actionable insights are then sent to the concerned teams for timely course correction.
The solution also offers unique network optimization that works in a cold storage-specific warehouse, where connectivity issues are common. The sensors use a GSM Quad Band, with both 2G and 3G compatibility and a GPS signal booster to ensure enhanced transmission capability.
Similarly, it is easily deployable in the in-transit reefers and offers real-time temperature, location, and condition monitoring. The ice cream maker has access to real-time cold chain data and insight, which helps them take corrective action, minimizing losses during transit with a near 100 percent accuracy.
The light sensor in the Roambee device makes sure that you also have a fair idea of how many times a reefer door was opened or if any unscheduled stops were leading to extended dwell times. Instantaneous alerts to concerned teams mean that timely corrective action can resolve these supply chain issues.
2. A Flexible Solution under One Roof
Roambee brought elevated levels of efficiency to the ice cream maker with its cloud-based cold chain monitoring control tower. Unlike what the manufacturer was using previously — a fragmented cold chain monitoring system — Roambee brought the temperature monitoring duties under one roof.
A single unified dashboard brings the ability to monitor different warehouse and transport routes together. The Roambee analytical platform offers accurate insight into warehouses' and reefers' real-time conditions on desktop or mobile devices. Alerts relating to imminent product spoilage are highlighted when they happen, offering a fair window to the ground team to make amends.
A Boost to Cold Chain Compliance
With Roambee's real-time immersive visibility solution, the ice cream maker could boost its cold chain compliance quotient. It was also able to maintain high standards in its quality and could see apparent ROIs by avoiding massive product spoilage and unnecessary rush orders. Cold chain compliance is an important part of a food cold chain, as the product’s rejection rate has a direct correlation with it.
This versatile solution can be deployed in various industries like pharma cold chain monitoring, and other cold chain-specific food and beverage industries.
At the moment, Roambee is enabling 100 percent warehouse and in-transit visibility for the ice cream maker. It includes warehouses in the plants and the distribution centers. Apart from this, Roambee is enabling the monitoring of more than 150 transport lanes across the nation, enabling real-time actionability to maintain quality. Besides, it is a solution that brings control to the ice cream manufacturer, with little to no involvement of the ground teams.