Exporters of refrigerated cargo can remotely monitor fruit and vegetables throughout the journey with a new remote container management system from Maersk Line.
For every refrigerated ‘reefer’ container on the road, at sea or in a port somewhere in the world, there is a customer in the dark, forced to run their business without valuable information about the condition and location of their products, says the shipper.
The RCM system, which will be launched on July 24, tracks the precise location of the cargo at any point in the voyage, monitors the atmospheric and temperature conditions and the power status.
Data can be accessed by the customer and Maersk no matter where in the world the reefer container is travelling.
And if something needs fixing, RCM experts from Maersk managing the container will either remotely solve the problem or send in local technicians.
“RCM has the capabilities that our customers have wanted from us for a very long time. It is going to insert an unprecedented level of visibility and reliability into their supply chains that will make their business better,” says Vincent Clerc, chief commercial officer for Maersk Line.
“The old days of waiting, hoping and reacting are over. Our customers can now monitor and make decisions about their supply chain as their cargo moves, as well as use the data to study and improve their entire supply chain.”
“Particularly for our customers with very sensitive, higher value refrigerated cargo, RCM significantly raises the total value proposition of refrigerated container trade.”
Remote tracking can reduce lost cargo
The technology behind RCM involves a GPS, modem and a SIM card on all 270,000 of the shipper’s refrigerated reefer containers. These allow the readings for temperature and humidity etc to be continuously collected and stored.
The data is sent via satellite transmitters on 400 of Maersk Line’s owned and chartered ships.
Maersk says that by keeping track of the cargo at all times, not just when it is on the water, the system will identify “problem areas” throughout the supply chain and help prevent waste.
For instance, if a reefer is not being pre-cooled as agreed at the farm, the customer can see this in the temperature graph on their screen and can follow up with the supplier and the farm.
Or if a lorry driver or port worker turns off the power to the reefer this will be flagged up.
Throughout this year, RCM has alerted Maersk Line to around 4,500 incorrect temperature settings on reefers. With the right kind of interception cargo problems were fixed and several million dollars worth of produce, which would have spoiled, was saved from going to waste, according to the shipper.
“Our customers have always wanted to know where their products are and if they are being properly cared for from the very beginning to when their customer receives them. Now with RCM, they will always know,” says Anne Sophie Zerlang, head of reefer for Maersk Line.
“We expect we will see an increase in our traditional perishable reefer volumes like agriculture as a result of RCM.”