21st April 2021
The relevance of a good cold chain management was never so at the center of the global attention as it is today. We are now all aware that Pfizer/Biontech vaccine need to be transported and stored at -70°C, or that Moderna vaccine, after being unfrozen, need to be preserved in the 2°C to 8°C temperature range for a maximum of 30 days before to be inoculated.
What is not probably so well known is that the good conservation is not a peculiarity of SARS-Cov2 vaccines, on the contrary, it is a common issue for any pharmaceutical product, from the newest biological treatments to a simple analgesic you can even buy at the grocery store (yes, analgesic have to be preserved between 15°C and 25°C).
But a good cold chain management is something needed also in other areas, a lot of products are sensitive to temperature excursions or to other environmental parameters like humidity or vibrations. Something familiar to all of us is food, you know very well what happens if you do not store your seafood in the fridge and, going backwards in the supply chain, you cannot imagine how much fresh food is wasted because it is not preserved at the right temperature in the warehouses.
Anyway, food and drugs are not the only products that need to be maintained in the right conditions: tobacco, for example, suffers humidity, fragile goods are sensible to vibrations and shocks, and there are special chemicals (like some industrial adhesives) that need to be preserved at -50°C until few minutes before their usage.
Obviously the most important aspect in cold chain is the ability to maintain the right environment for the products during transportation and storage but it is also very important to know if this has been done. An industrial adhesive will not work as expected and you could lose a part of your car while you are driving, you can suffer a disease because you ate badly preserved fish or the vaccine you are getting could result to be ineffective if not dangerous for your health.
This is why cold chain monitoring is so important: you can know in advance if the product was preserved correctly avoiding bad consequences of its usage!
As you may understand this is not an easy task to perform considering the volume of goods that travel every day around the world but today, we can count on the support of IoT technologies and, in particular, on RFID technologies.
Adding a RAIN RFID tag to perishable products permits to track them in an efficient and automated way but you need something more to monitor the environment around your product: a sensor and a memory where to store the sensor data gathered along the life of the product. And here is where RAIN RFID semi-passive loggers are good at. In the same way and with the same infrastructure you use to keep track of the position of your product you can also obtain information about environmental parameters. At the end of the transportation or even at checkpoints along the supply chain you can get all the information, with a minimum human intervention or even completely automatically (improving the efficiency of the data collection and reduces errors).
Furthermore, combined RAIN/NFC loggers allow to extend the benefits of cold chain monitoring to the final user since he can use his own smartphone to retrieve the history of the product and be guaranteed that the quality conform to what is expected.