Logistics Middle East

Top Three Trends facing the cold chain industry by Atif Rafiq, co-founder at Qafila.

- By Atif Rafiq, co-founder at Qafila

In recent years, the food industry has faced a number of exciting and dramatic changes to its supply chain, fuelled mostly by shifting consumer demands. Consumers are increasing­ly focused on the food retailer’s transparen­cy which includes foods that generally require temperatur­e-controlled storage through the supply chain.

From the deployment of automation and robotics in warehouses to innovative ways to manage energy, ideas that were once confined to brainstorm­ing sessions and office whiteboard­s are now getting the significan­t investment­s they need to be deployed throughout the supply chain.

So, what innovation­s and trends are poised to have the greatest impact on our industry in the next three to five years?

Digital twin - where data becomes insight

Cold chain is already greatly benefittin­g from the power of data analytics, artificial intelligen­ce and deep learning, which quickly and accurately collects data from multiple sources and then converts that into actionable knowledge. Taking this a step further, leveraging the Internet of Things revolution, one can get a complete view of operations and the extended logistics chain, enabling more precise control over the environmen­t.

For example, if your whole supply chain has a digital twin, we can now ensure and maintain a level of temperatur­e control and efficiency that is unmatched in the industry. The user can analyse shipment conditions during transporta­tion of perishable goods as well as any other commoditie­s that are sensitive to temperatur­e, humidity and other environmen­tal conditions.

While ocean voyages are fairly stable (when reefer containers are used), the other legs of the supply chain journey (the farm to the vessels, and once the commodity is off-loaded from the vessel to the importer’s warehouse or even the distributo­r) are the most vulnerable.

The “Amazon” effect

The market continues to demand faster velocity, better service and greater efficiency. Leading supply chain providers must deploy systems that can provide their clients with product visibility and


control in near real time. As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is especially appropriat­e in the supply chain industry. We must keep precise delivery windows within the chain: from our ocean carriers, freight forwarder, trucking partners, both inbound and outbound, and ensure we leave a customer’s product in the same condition we received it.

Ecommerce revolution­s drive innovation upstream

Regional players like Carrefour, Spinneys and Union Co-operative have hopped on the e-commerce band- wagon with Souq Supermarke­t - https://supermarke­t. souq.com/ae-en/ and some have establishe­d their own delivery channels especially in the grocery store and convenienc­e store category. This trend signals a change in consumer preference which has created a ripple effect in the retail supply chain. For 3PLS (third party logistics services), many are experienci­ng delivery requiremen­ts within hours instead of days or weeks. This had led to a rise in retail standards around velocity and on-time movement of goods particular­ly in perishable­s where time is of the essence. 3PLS are also adapting their service offering whether its repacking larger cartons into smaller packages, offering promotiona­l labelling and etc.

As for warehouse and fulfilment design - proliferat­ion in food and beverage for fresh food, gluten-free and farmto-table preference­s cascade into warehouse operations. As the number of SKU’s increases, it affects the profile of orders and increases the number of lines. Greater precision is required in how the capacity inside the warehouse is used to manage an expanding product line.

Those fulfilment needs to translate into new requiremen­ts for technology in terms of visibility and traceabili­ty to handle the complexiti­es.

Change is coming to supply chain. Old freight forwarders who have not evolved and still prefer doing things the old way will have to step aside and let themselves be disrupted by new players who understand the technology that brings speed and visibility to help develop Service Level Agreement and the ability to serve customers faster and better.

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 ??  ?? The cold chain industry is beneltting hugely from technologi­cal breakthrou­ghs.
The cold chain industry is beneltting hugely from technologi­cal breakthrou­ghs.

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