How Covid-19 pushed the cold chain to new heights: 3 cool innovations

1st January 2021

It’s hard to underestimate the impact of Covid-19 on the cold chain. According to the International Transport Forum, freight transport declined by 36% throughout 2020. The decrease was mainly caused by (regional) limitations on freight transport and a decline in industrial activity. But will the pandemic also impact the cold chain in the long run?

In 2020, the number of urban deliveries tripled!

#1 Increased and innovative deliveries in the last mile

Did you order anything online when brick-and-mortar stores were closed down? Well, you weren’t alone. During the Covid-19 outbreak, the surge in demand on e-commerce sites increased by 700% (McKinsey, 2020) – which led to an increase in urban deliveries.

Unsurprisingly, we also saw last-mile innovations in pharmaceutical transport. New containers and pods were introduced to keep pharma at the optimal temperature when delivered by small vans. We ourselves introduced a new model of our ColdCube™ Connect FLEX – to keep pharmaceuticals at the highest quality.

#2 Contactless delivery as a standard

Even though many deliveries were already routinely done paperless, that’s but scratching the surface of the new digitization wave.

New delivery technologies and supply chain improvements were introduced during the outbreak to guarantee the safety of everyone involved within the global supply chain.

  • Deliveries by robots. Self-driving vehicles to bring medical supplies or supplement labor shortage. One startup, Neolix, doubled in demand throughout 2020.
  • Deliveries by drones. Companies like Draganfly started to develop drones that’ll be able to deliver refrigerated vaccines to remote areas.

#3 Keeping an eye on your cargo 24/7

Now that several pharmaceutical companies developed vaccines to combat Covid-19, the traceability of this valuable cargo is more important than ever – while providing the fastest route – as explained here by fleet manager Marco Van Velthoven.

Existing technologies (like telematics) find new adaptations keep an eye on your cargo whenever and wherever your driver might be. 

  • Track and trace of door openings. If the vaccine is contaminated by ambient temperatures, it might be less effective.
  • Adapt temperatures remotely. During these temperature fluctuations, you can adapt the temperature in your trailer remotely (and at your unit) to keep your goods in prime condition.
  • Anti-theft device. Many hackers want to intercept the precious vaccines during transport – and even hack delivery routes of Pfizer. 

See, know, and grow with Connected Solutions, our telematics hardware/software. Get key insights on door openings, trailer temperature, and it even serves as an anti-theft device.