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Enhanced Visibility Reduces Higher Losses

How trackers can help prevent food waste

A study by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) estimates that around a third of all edible food is thrown away and calculates that these losses amount to approximately 1.3 billion tons of food waste per year. In less developed countries, agriculture and production account for higher losses. In industrialized countries, a lot of food is thrown away or (sometimes) not even harvested in the first place, because its shape and appearance do not correspond to the expected norm. This can be caused, among other factors, by problems in storage and transport. To prevent these problems from arising, tracking devices or ‘trackers’ are used.

Barcodes, Loggers and Now Trackers?

Monitoring the flow of goods by means of labels and lists is a well-known practice. This can also be done passively via barcode, i.e. barcode A is scanned by scanner B at time X and recorded. Another popular method is the use of loggers, which merely store data about humidity and temperature, but do not offer these up for analysis until they reach their destination. In principle, these only serve documentation purposes as they provide little opportunity to react.

The term ‘tracker’ is only used once data can be actively transmitted. Live tracking is an attractive option for many types of cargo in order to monitor the quality of the supply chain or the cargo itself in real time. Trackers allow for constant GPS monitoring, optionally with additional condition data such as temperature, humidity etc.

All this is helpful information which can be transmitted with only a few kilobytes of data. These little helpers serve to make supply chains significantly more transparent and assist in detecting and mitigating weak points in the system – this makes them ideal for optimizing transports of perishable goods and avoiding food waste. cargo-partner uses trackers by Sensitech to ensure the quality of goods during transport. We talked to Christina Deutschle, Account Manager at Sensitech, about the possible uses and advantages of trackers.

“In our experience, the most critical points arise not during transport, but at the transshipment hubs, for example, when a reefer container is not reconnected to the power supply quickly enough. With real-time technology which enables automatic data transfer, the responsible people are immediately informed in case of a temperature breach.”

Christina Deutschle, Account Manager at Sensitech


Interviewer: All around the world, food is being produced in quantities which could feed up to 10 billion people. At the same time, there are areas where up to 40% of goods are being wasted and thrown away. How can Sensitech help companies reduce food waste?

Christina Deutschle: The risk of cold chain interruptions in the transport of perishable goods is relatively high due to frequent handovers. Every time a food is transported from one place to another – such as from the farmer to the shipper, then from the wholesaler to the retailer – there is a risk of interrupting the cooling circuit. In fact, this risk grows exponentially with the duration of the transport. These errors often lead to a costly rejection of the spoiled goods.

To maintain product quality and reduce the waste of perishable food within the cold chain, companies have to monitor these temperature cycles proactively and seamlessly. This is the only way to ensure the quality and integrity of chilled goods.

Globalization has brought about diverse and complex goods flows which pose a challenge for all involved parties to manage these flows efficiently and maintain an overview over the transport chain. How can your trackers help with this?

In order to act effectively and control the supply chain, you have to know what is happening at all times – transparency is essential. To create this transparency, you need valid data. Trackers ensure that supply chain data – such as temperature, location, cool chain performance and transport duration – are recorded. They can then be analyzed and assessed with the aim of gaining an overview over the supply chain. This way, weak points in the process are revealed and critical gaps can be closed or circumvented in the next transport.

A practical question: What does an operator do when a tracker sends an alert, say, because the humidity or storage temperature are off and negative consequences are impending, however, the cargo is currently being transported at a height of ten kilometers above the Pacific? Do you perhaps have special containers with interfaces to your products, or are the operator’s hands tied in this case?

While the goods are on the plane or in the ship, the operator’s options are limited. However, in our experience, the most critical points arise not during transport, but at the transshipment hubs, for example, when a reefer container is not reconnected to the power supply quickly enough. Our real-time technology enables automatic data transfer, so that the responsible people are immediately informed in case of a temperature breach, which enhances reaction time. The sender can then take the necessary measures before the problem escalates completely and leads to damage or losses.

What was the most unusual object that has ever been transported using one of your products?

There is a wide variety in monitored products. From a food perspective, we monitor everything – from seafood to chocolate down to fruits and vegetables. Most significant for our business, however, is the field of pharmaceuticals, which is subject to strict regulations and can include goods such as blood plasma.