The Benefits of Remote Temperature Monitoring for Your Fleet

December 03, 2020

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Key Takeaways

KEY TAKEAWAYS Remote temperature monitoring systems can save your fleet thousands of dollars per year in lost or spoiled goods. By remotely monitoring your refrigerated trailers, your fleet can keep an accurate record of temperatures and humidity levels within your trucks in order to prevent lost loads and maintain high quality customer service.

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What is remote temperature monitoring? 

Without the ability to remotely monitor your trucks, it can be difficult to ensure consistent temperatures on the road. And for enterprise fleets with hundreds or thousands of refrigerated trailers in transit each day, this challenge can be compounded. Temperature data loggers—which are a key part of remote temperature monitoring systems—can be the difference between food spoilage and peace of mind. 

Remote temperature monitoring systems provide a refrigerated trailer management solution that helps fleets monitor temperatures in transit from remote locations to prevent product spoilage and rejected deliveries. 

Remote temperature monitors, like Samsara’s WiFi-enabled Environmental Monitors (EMs), offer automated and continuous temperature logging so fleets can eliminate manual recordkeeping. Read on to learn more about the benefits of remote temperature monitoring for large fleets. 

Why are remote temperature monitoring systems important for cold chain logistics? 

A remote temperature monitoring system is one of the most critical pieces in cold chain logistics, particularly when considering the amount of food wasted every year. Nearly one-third of globally grown food is thrown out annually, totaling $35 billion in losses and 1.3 billion tons in waste. The United States alone wastes over 40 percent of all the food it produces.

Although personal food waste is a leading contributor to these staggering numbers, food loss often occurs before products even hit market shelves. Approximately 12% of all food waste occurs during distribution, when room temperature (sometimes known as home temperature) and humidity level changes often take place. This means a large portion of perishable goods don’t actually make it from truck to grocer before they go bad.

If your fleet is transporting food, beverages, or other perishable goods, your drivers are probably aware of the risks that spoilage, caused by high or low temperatures, can pose to a haul. But how can fleets help reduce this waste and take control of their part in the cold chain? Remote temperature monitoring systems, such as wireless temperature sensors and humidity sensors, allow fleets to track temperatures in-transit to prevent product spoilage, decrease rejected loads, and meet regulatory compliance requirements. 

Not only does this help carriers communicate effectively with customers, but it also ensures Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance. Because temperature data and humidity data is continuously logged, fleets can easily pull historical data as proof of product quality to regulators as well as customers.

How to prevent low temperatures to maintain cold chain logistics

Whether your fleet stores, distributes, or delivers temperature-sensitive products, maintaining the cold chain is critical. To maintain the freshest, highest-quality product and service, perishable goods must be stored at a certain temperature while in transit. If temperatures drop or rise during any point during the cold chain, it can lead to rejected loads and dissatisfied customers. 

Maintaining the cold chain can be challenging, especially when a change as small as one degree can cause thousands of dollars in spoiled products. Plus, it's important to meet the FDA's Food Code that states perishable foods must be stored at 41°F or below. If a truck is hauling goods that require varying temperature requirements—like poultry and fruit—the possibilities for a rejected load can be even greater. And even if a product is placed onto a truck at the correct temperature, environmental conditions, power supply outages, or even an open door can cause enough change in temperature to signal a rejected load.

Rejected loads can negatively impact a fleet in several ways:

  • Cost: The carrier is required to compensate the shipper for the value of the spoiled goods through a direct payment or insurance claim.

  • Waste: The carrier is required to dispose of spoiled goods, typically in an environmentally friendly way that can often be costly.

  • Inefficiency: The truck might need to be taken to a washout facility, which causes downtime and additional costs. 

  • Customer service: A rejected haul can strain customer relations and complicate securing future business.

For fleets at scale, each of these impacts carry large costs. 

The benefits of temperature alerts 

Without a way to be alerted of any change in temperature in your refrigerated trailers, your drivers can travel tens or hundreds of miles before noticing an issue. Because every second counts when you’re dealing with refrigerated goods, even a few miles of improper temperatures can spoil a load. That’s where temperature alerts can help. 

If your fleet has vehicles designed to be temperature controlled Samsara’s wireless sensors allow you to monitor their temperature, humidity, and reefer settings in real time. With ongoing temperature reporting, you and your drivers can spot and correct fluctuations before they become a problem. 

Within the Samsara dashboard, you can easily configure email alerts and text messages for your Android or iPhone alerting you of temperature changes. You can also receive alerts through Samsara’s mobile app to stay closely connected to your fleet’s temperature data. 

How do Samsara’s remote temperature sensors work?

Samsara's plug-and-play remote WiFi monitors and cloud-based software make it easy to oversee cold chain logistics and collect continuous temperature data. 

If your fleet has vehicles designed to be temperature controlled, Samsara’s wireless sensors allow you to monitor their temperature, humidity, and reefer settings in real time. Because they have an internet connection, Samsara Environmental Monitors allow fleet managers to see their data from remote locations and eliminate the need for manual checks from drivers. 

Fleet managers can configure automatic mobile or email alerts to detect temperature fluctuations so temperatures can be quickly adjusted if necessary. To do this, fleet managers or dispatchers can designate an acceptable temperature range and enable notifications in the case of temperature fluctuation. Fleet managers can also set a specified timeframe before a notification is shared so something like a door that's been momentarily opened does not automatically trigger an alert.

4 features to consider when evaluating a new remote temperature monitoring system  

When evaluating a new remote temperature monitoring system, it’s important to keep your fleet’s needs in mind. Here are the five most critical considerations to evaluate: 

1. WiFi connection and a reliable WiFi network 

In order to receive real-time data from your refrigerated trailers, it’s important to select a system with WiFi connection without the need for ethernet. With a WiFi-connected remote temperature monitoring system, you can be confident that your temperature and humidity data is accurate and up-to-date in order to ensure product quality and customer service. Sometimes, systems with WiFi networks can charge additional monthly fees, so make sure you consider these costs when evaluating your options. 

WiFi-connected Samsara EMs come with cellular data included, making them a great option for fleets at scale. 

2. Battery life 

Because remote temperature monitors run continuously while your refrigerated trucks are in transit, it’s critical to select a remote temperature monitoring system that has a strong battery life. Whether they run on AAA batteries or lithium batteries, your temperature monitors need to maintain a strong power supply in order to avoid spoiled loads. 

With the industry's most advanced wireless technology, Samsara EMs transmit sensor data in real time to Samsara Vehicle Gateways (VGs), enabling operators to see live-to-the-second sensor data on their web browser and receive real-time alerting when conditions require their attention. When an EM is deployed out of a VG’s range, it logs data to on-board storage and automatically uploads the data the next time it comes near a VG. Even with always-on wireless networking and data-logging, the EM runs for three years off of a single AA battery. In addition, Samsara EMs come with a one-year warranty in case of any technical issues. 

3. Waterproof and ruggedized 

In order to extend the length of your investment, be sure to choose remote temperature monitors that are weatherproof and built for harsh environments. Whether they’re inside your trailers or within food storage facilities, remote temperature monitors need to be able to withstand dust and water in order to continue functioning.

Samsara EM-series monitors are designed for harsh operating environments. IP67-rated weatherproofing protects against splashes, spray, dust, and other environmental wear and tear ideal for refrigerated trailers and food storage facilities subject to moisture and power-washing. The EM's design is as durable as it is sleek, with exceptional resilience to impact.

4. Fleet management platform 

The biggest consideration when evaluating a remote temperature monitoring system is how it will integrate with your fleet management system. Separate systems can pose challenges for drivers and back office admins, so it’s best to select a solution that’s a part of a broader fleet management platform. With everything in one place, you can access all of your telematics and temperature data from a single web browser. 

With Samsara, fleets not only have access to remote temperature monitoring, but also robust telematics, AI Dash Cams, asset tracking, and more. Learn more about Samsara’s complete fleet management platform

How do organizations use Samsara’s remote temperature monitoring system?

Food providers and food service distributors alike rely on Samsara’s remote temperature monitoring system to maintain the integrity of their products and keep their customers happy.

Alex Blunk is the Logistics Director at San Francisco-based brewpub Fort Point Brewing. Blunk and his team use Samsara remote temperature monitors to ensure their beer maintains an ideal temperature and doesn’t succumb to temperature spikes that could cause their products to be undrinkable. “Temperature stability for beer is very important,” Blunk said. “We rely on Samsara’s remote temperature monitors to make sure the beer we package at our brewery is being delivered at the freshest state it possibly can be.”

Food service distributors, like Cash-Wa Distributing, also use Samsara to ensure customers are satisfied with their products. Chad Henning, Co-President of Cash-Wa Distributing, believes Samsara has helped their business achieve a high level of product quality that’s allowed them to secure more customers. “With Samsara’s always-on wireless temperature monitoring, we can show that we’ve taken great care of the product every step of the way. We’re confident we’re compliant, and we’re winning more business.”

To learn more about how Samsara’s remote temperature monitoring system can help your fleet, reach out for a free trial or demo today.

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