It is becoming more critical for shippers, exporters and growers to understand what is happening to fresh produce and other perishables when it is in transit, be that from packhouse to port, port to port, or port to final destination.
There are major issues with food security while more than 1/3 of all fresh produce is lost or wasted. Can these issues be reduced by more information about what is actually happening to food during transit?
Karl Lusted CEO at Hemdahl, started his career in the telematics industry, he saw how information from devices such as data loggers was logged and stored, as a matter of requirement but none of this data was being used to make the supply chain better and reduce food waste.
“If we can look at this data and analyse it, we can really make a difference to the amount of food wasted in the cold chain, there is also the issue of foodborne illness which kills thousands of people each year which could be detected early by looking at the conditions during transit. The data is already there, it just needs to be analysed and acted upon. We can determine the remaining shelf life by looking at storage and transportation conditions, detect damage from freezing or chilling, we can also determine if pathogens could be present.”
Hemdahl is a SaaS platform that analyses temperature and humidity data for perishable products to provide unique, actionable insights into product quality and safety. The Hemdahl analytics system can import data from a Telematics system, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System, or Transport Management System (TMS) and calculate the effect of real-world storage conditions on perishable cargo. Advanced data analysis is used to determine the effect that storage conditions had on quality and safety of perishable produce. 12 different areas of risk are analysed in order to determine the overall risk level for cargo.
“We can see when, for example the temperature changed, or if it was set wrongly to start with. This kind of information can allow companies to see the weak points in the cold chain and make improvements and avoid mistakes in the future.”
10 years ago there were very few connected data loggers, now a lot of containers are smart and shippers are adding more real time capabilities and gaps in the data are being plugged. There is still the need for more real time information as a lot of the data can’t be downloaded until the vessel in close to shore.
There is great progress in the shipping industry when it comes to real time data. Starlink Satellite Internet is being rolled out by companies such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd to give the seafarers access to internet to keep in touch with friends and family which in turn means that more information can be gathered while ships are at sea through better connectivity, but we still to improve information from intermodal chains.
“If we have the in-transit information, we can analyse the data before the container arrives at the port to predict quality which enables receivers to prioritise which containers to deal with first, or even if there is any point in unloading them. Also, ports have limited numbers of inspectors, so the data can be used to pinpoint which containers need to be inspected.
“A lot of produce shipped around the world is subject to cold treatment protocols due to disease or pests such as fruit fly, and verification is still performed manually which may lead to inaccuracies and is time consuming. If we can see the data from the voyage, we can tell which containers are ‘safe’ and have followed the correct cold treatment protocols and asses pest risks.”
Hemdahl started by encouraging shipping companies to use their services as this will have the biggest impact on food waste, but they provide services for anyone who needs their data analysed, even if it is a single load on sea, rail or road. The data can downloaded and analysed in seconds.
The company also has a free Food Safety App containing information on 180 commonly shipped products including parameters such as temperature, humidity, storage life, etc. Available on both Android and iOS app stores, it has key storage parameters and recommendations for the most common temperature-sensitive cargo.