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International Forwarding Association Blog » European Logistics » Tech Innovations Transforming Perishable Goods Logistics

Tech Innovations Transforming Perishable Goods Logistics

Advancements in technology enhance the transportation and storage of perishable goods, which results in both increased freshness and improved safety. Innovations such as controlled atmosphere technology, blockchain tracking, hyperspectral imaging, and drone inspections contribute to more efficient shipping, longer shelf life, and reduced waste.

 

Controlled Atmosphere Technology (CA)

CA technology slows down the ripening process by adjusting oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen levels. This is particularly important for products like berries and leafy greens, which are sensitive to changes in their storage environment.

In addition to gas composition, CA is used to control humidity and ethylene concentration. As ethylene accelerates ripening and can lead to spoilage, CA systems are equipped to either absorb or filter out ethylene from the air and thus reduce its concentration. Moreover, by maintaining optimal humidity levels, CA technology prevents dehydration and weight loss and ensures goods retain their texture and nutritional value during transit.

Some systems also use membrane technology to selectively remove gases from the air inside the container. Membranes can selectively permeate gases and adjust the internal atmosphere to match the needs of the cargo based on type, maturity, and intended shelf life. This extends the freshness of sensitive products like berries and leafy greens.

 

Blockchain

Blockchain technology enables freight forwarders to track every product interaction from origin to delivery. This precise tracking ensures that perishable goods maintain their quality and freshness throughout their journey. Each step in this journey – from the time the goods are harvested, packed, shipped, and finally delivered – can be recorded on a blockchain. This documentation also captures the temperature and conditions inside the container, transit times, and even the arrival condition of the goods.

This level of detail ensures that all stakeholders have real-time access to information that influences the perishables’ condition. For instance, if the temperature inside the container rises above a safe threshold, corrective actions can be taken promptly to prevent spoilage. Similarly, knowing the exact time of harvest and the conditions throughout transit helps ensure that the goods are sold while still fresh.

 

Implementing Non-Invasive Inspection Technologies

Recent advances in non-invasive inspection include hyperspectral imaging that can detect internal defects or contaminants without damaging the product packaging. This technology excels in identifying a range of defects, including uneven fat distribution in meats, undetectable spoilage or souring in dairy products, and textural changes. It also detects internal bruising and rot in fruits and vegetables, along with areas of fungal infections.

Furthermore, hyperspectral imaging can uncover traces of foreign substances that could compromise safety and quality. These include minute particles of metals and plastics, glass shards, wood splinters, and textile fibers, all of which pose risks if consumed.

Complementing hyperspectral imaging, drones can be used for inspection in storage and distribution areas. Their ability to cover large spaces and access hard-to-reach areas ensures that no part of the cargo goes unchecked. Moreover, drones are equipped with high-resolution cameras and advanced sensors to provide a comprehensive view of cargo conditions. As drones conduct inspections without needing direct contact, this minimizes the risk of contamination.