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Transforming the Future of Temperature-Controlled Logistics: How Internet of Things (IoT) technology is helping to keep our food safe

In this blog we explain how end-to-end monitoring can help ensure Quality and Safety of chilled and frozen goods through the whole supply chain.

In the rapidly evolving world of logistics, the importance of maintaining the quality and safety of temperature-sensitive goods cannot be overstated. The Internet of Things (IoT) technology is proving to be a game-changer in this context, providing unprecedented control over the temperature of goods throughout the supply chain. This blog post delves into how IoT technology, specifically in the form of end-to-end monitoring, is helping to ensure the quality and safety of chilled and frozen goods.

The Impact of Neglecting Temperature Control in the Supply Chain

Monitoring the entire supply chain is crucial for temperature-controlled goods. This is because every stage, from storage to transportation, has a direct impact on the goods' quality and safety. Without comprehensive monitoring, individual items, pallets, or boxes could experience temperature fluctuations that go unnoticed. For instance, an item could be left on a loading dock for longer than expected and could be subjected to temperatures that compromise its quality.

Exposure of chilled or frozen foodstuffs to high temperatures during distribution can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses in consumers. These illnesses can range from mild (like diarrhoea or vomiting) to severe or even life-threatening, particularly in vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

A food scare, such as an outbreak of foodborne illness linked to a company's product, can have a devastating impact on that company's brand and reputation, leading to a loss of consumer trust, which can be difficult to regain. Consumers may associate the brand with the scare and hesitate to purchase its products in the future. This can result in significant financial losses due to decreased sales and potential lawsuits. Moreover, it can also result in increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies, leading to potential fines and further damage to the company's reputation.

Supply-chain Integrity

Maintaining the integrity of the cold chain to prevent such incidents is of paramount important for a number of reasons: -

Firstly, it forms part of the quality assurance process, giving both the manufacturer and the end consumer confidence in the product's safety and quality.

Secondly, it may be a regulatory requirement in certain industries or regions to maintain and provide temperature records for perishable goods.

Thirdly, in the event of a dispute or a potential issue with product quality, these records serve as evidence that the company has maintained the necessary conditions during transit.

Lastly, these records could also be important for insurance purposes, providing evidence in support of a claim or demonstrating compliance with the terms of an insurance policy.

Responsibility and Accountability

For manufacturers and logistics companies who store and transport chilled or frozen goods it is essential to have the ability to monitor temperature levels throughout their custody of the goods, because they may need to provide retrospective proof that the goods were not exposed to excessively high temperatures during their handling.

If there was mishandling it is crucial to be able to prove when it occurred because the responsibility for the fault and the subsequent resolution depends on who had custody of the goods at the time. If the fault occurred during manufacture or at the manufacturers goods out store, it would be the manufacturer's responsibility to rectify the issue and bear any associated costs. On the other hand, if the fault occurred during storage or transport, the logistics provider would be responsible. Having clear evidence of the fault's origin can prevent disputes and streamline the process of resolving the issue. Furthermore, identifying the fault's origin can help to implement corrective actions to prevent similar problems from reoccurring in the future.

A logistics company that can monitor the temperature of goods throughout the supply chain provides a significantly better value proposition for manufacturers.

Monitoring at the right level

Traditional methods, such as monitoring warehouse and vehicle temperatures, may not provide full traceability of each item. It makes more sense to monitor temperatures at the level at which goods are handled, such as individual pallets or roll cages. This granular level of monitoring ensures that every item's temperature status is accurately tracked, providing a clear and precise overview of the goods' condition.

Firstly, it allows for immediate identification and resolution of any potential issues. If a specific pallet or cage is exposed to inappropriate temperatures, immediate corrective actions can be taken. This reduces the risk of spoilage and potential financial losses.

Secondly, it reduces waste. If you can be confident that only that one pallet was exposed to unacceptable temperatures, only that specific pallet would be considered compromised, instead of the whole load.

Thirdly, it provides a detailed record of the temperature conditions each item has been subjected to. This invaluable data can be used to validate the integrity of the cold chain, providing reassurance to both manufacturers and customers about the safety and quality of the goods.


Internet of Things (IoT) technology plays a pivotal role in cold chain monitoring, particularly the use of battery-operated tags. These small, portable devices are equipped with sensors that can accurately track and record temperature data at all stages of the supply chain. As they are battery-operated, they are energy-efficient and can function independently for extended periods (up to 10 years), making them ideal for long-duration monitoring tasks.

IoT tags can be attached to individual items, pallets, or boxes, allowing for granular level temperature monitoring. This provides detailed insights into the conditions each item is subjected to throughout its journey. If a temperature fluctuation occurs, the IoT tag records this information, ensuring no incident goes unnoticed.

These tags are also capable of transmitting data in real-time, allowing for immediate alerts if the temperature falls outside the acceptable range. This enables prompt corrective actions, reducing the risk of spoilage and potential financial losses.

In addition, the data collected by these IoT tags can be used for retrospective analysis, providing invaluable insights into the performance and reliability of the cold chain. This aids in quality assurance, regulatory compliance, and dispute resolution.

Overall, the use of battery-operated IoT tags enhances the transparency and reliability of the cold chain, ensuring the safety and quality of temperature-sensitive goods.

Rules & Alerts

Internet of Things (IoT) technology enables the definition of rules and alerts for tags. This is particularly important in the context of temperature-controlled logistics. IoT tags can be programmed to trigger alerts when temperatures exceed or fall below certain thresholds. These alerts can be sent in real-time to relevant stakeholders, enabling immediate corrective action.

Furthermore, rules can be established for automated responses to certain situations, such as adjusting temperature controls or initiating backup systems when abnormal temperatures are detected. This use of IoT technology enhances the efficiency, reliability, and responsiveness of temperature-controlled logistics.

Monitoring storage facilities and trailers

So far, we’ve discusses the idea of attaching temperature tags to individual pallets or roll cages, but the same technology can be used to monitor fixed infrastructure, like freezers. Why would you want to do that? Well IoT sensors are relatively inexpensive, and so they can be deployed in larger numbers, giving you a more granular view of whatever you’re monitoring. You might find, for example that the temperature within a freezer is not consistent throughout the space. Sensors don’t need cabling either, so you’re not having to drill through insulation materials to install them.

Wireless Technologies Enabling Cold-chain Monitoring

Internet of Things (IoT) tags rely wireless technology. Wi-Fi is not typically used for IoT applications because it doesn't provide the necessary battery life or range. Instead we tend to use low-data rate technologies like LoRaWan, Private 5G, 4G/LTE, and NB-IoT, which offer long-range, low-power consumption and therefore long battery life.


LoRaWan is a media access control (MAC) protocol for wide area networks. It's designed to allow low-powered devices to communicate with Internet-connected applications over long-range wireless connections, making it especially useful for IoT networks.

Private 5G

Private 5G networks are an emerging preference for businesses requiring high-speed, reliable, and secure connectivity. Unlike public 5G networks, private ones offer dedicated resources for businesses to ensure consistent performance and enhanced security. They can be customized to suit specific business needs and can operate independently of public networks, which is beneficial when dealing with sensitive data.


4G/LTE is a standard for wireless broadband communication. While it's most commonly associated with mobile phones, its use in IoT applications is increasing. 4G/LTE provides high-speed, reliable connectivity for IoT devices that transmit large amounts of data or require real-time responsiveness.


Narrowband IoT, or NB-IoT, is a low power wide area (LPWA) technology. It's designed for IoT applications that require long battery life, a wide range, deep indoor penetration, and a high number of connections. NB-IoT is suitable for stationary IoT devices, or low data rate mobile IoT devices. The technology offers indoor coverage, low cost, long battery life, and a large number of device connections.

Broadly speaking LoRaWAN and Private 5G are best suited to monitoring tasks around a facility, e.g. a factory or depot. 4G/LTE and NB-IoT leverage the mobile phone infrastructure and are best suited to monitoring goods in transit.

In the context of temperature-controlled logistics, anyone or combination of these technologies can be leveraged effectively. Ultimately, the choice  will depend on the specific requirements of the IoT application in question. Factors such as the size of the data packets, the frequency of transmission, the power requirements of the IoT devices, and the geographical coverage will all influence the choice of wireless technology.

Next steps

To find out more about how IoT technology can revolutionise your cold chain logistics and ensure the integrity of your temperature-sensitive goods, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help you navigate your unique challenges and provide a solution tailored to your needs.

Contact us today!

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