Practices For A Fleet in The Perishable Goods Business. Dispatching goods to distant land has always been a challenge for businesses. The problem gets compounded when the goods you wish to transport are perishable goods with a short shelf life. Thanks to the International Fuel Tax Agreement or IFTA, paying and calculating taxes have become somewhat streamlined, thus optimizing fleet utilization, enhancing asset quality, and improving operating cash flow.
However, the fact that you have to comply with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) guidelines on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food makes transportation of goods to distant land an arduous task.
5 best practices for a fleet
This article takes you through the 5 best practices you should keep in mind to maximize your fleet’s performance if you are in the perishable goods business.
1. Understand the Trend Changes in Cold Chain Logistics
Back in 1797, modern-day refrigerated transportation began with fishermen carrying ice to the sea for keeping their fish-loaded carts safe ever since the field has been subject to constant innovations.
At present, over 90 percent of all goods transported are packed and dispatched in refrigerated containers, compared to just 33 percent in 1980, and one latest report observes that the cold chain industry is set to grow at a CAGR of 15% between 2016 and 2023.
The farm to fork technique of transporting perishable goods has further enabled cutting-edge research and innovative design-upgradations.
But, as with any new technology, understanding what can make a difference and what cannot determine your business’s profitability. For example, if you are into transporting poultry, you need to understand that poultry will be considered fresh only as long as it is frozen above 26 degrees. Anything below the threshold will raise speculations about its quality.
As a transporter in the perishable goods segment, you should also stay updated with the latest FSMA guidelines and regulations. The FSMA, since its introduction in 2017, has changed the way food safety is being treated, and delicate cargo is handled.
Hence, by staying abreast of the industry trends and technological advancements, you can always make your business remain relevant.
2. Realize the Need for Documentation
A New York Times report showed that in the United States, people waste food worth $160 billion every year. The figure is approximately 40 percent of gross domestic food production. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) further states that about 12 percent of all goods never reach the shelves and contribute to the spoilage tally.
Ever since cold chain logistics has been modernized to reduce wastage, the need for updated documentation has increased. In the case of poultry, for example, you have to make the federal authorities and your customers believe that the goods were transported at a constant temperature between 30 and 32 degrees. But, saying it verbally won’t make much of an impact.
This is where the data received from real-time temperature monitoring systems can come in handy. A temperature monitoring system’s inbuilt wireless humidity and temperature sensors can feed your fleet’s dashboard with real-time in-transit temperature data.
Hence, you must invest in a real-time temperature monitoring system to control spoilage, avoid load rejections, and stay clear of regulatory hurdles. Learn more about wireless temperature monitoring system here.
3. Ensure That the Perishable Goods in Your Cold Storage Stay as Cold as it Should Be
With perishable goods, even one degree plus or minus temperature may spell doom and spoil your entire investment. Disruptions can happen in two ways:
- The goods do not go through the standard pre-cooling stage, or there is a temperature mismatch during the transfer process.
- While in transit, the truck transporting your goods might face a mechanical failure, thereby spoiling the entire consignment of perishable goods.
Be it the scorching summers or freezing winters, the duration of how long the truck door remains open plays a role in determining the longevity of the goods inside. By using a wireless door monitor, you can keep a tab on the door opening and closing time, and how much time your staff spends on loading and unloading.
You can also stay close to your goods by installing a real-time temperature control system, which would allow you to deploy your Plan-B within a few minutes of an unfortunate incident.
4. Stay Updated About Your Fleet With a Fleet Tracking System
For a fleet in the perishable goods business, time is everything. Driver fatigue, off-routing, downtime, and engine idling can all contribute to losing precious time, thus exposing your perishable goods to danger.
By installing a real-time GPS fleet tracking device, you can use traffic and weather data to stay ahead in perishable goods delivery. You can also use the GPS tracker to track fuel usage and keep an eye on the driver. It has been observed that controlled staff is the best staff.
Take the case of the famous brewery Fort Point Beer. While other breweries were expanding into multiple facilities, Fort Point chose to stick to its in-house distribution model. What helped them gain traction is a Vehicle IoT system with life GPS, dash cams and temperature monitoring.
Hence, by using the latest Vehicle IoT Gateway or fleet tracker, you can not only ensure the timely delivery of consignments but also save precious cash in the process, which you can use on capacity expansion and other business activities.
5. Keep Your Fleet Cleaned and Sanitized Before Handling the Next Consignment of Perishable Goods
Cleaning and sanitizing equipment is probably the most important requirement for fleet operators engaged in transporting perishable goods. While fatty goods like butter and meat release strong odor, fresh fruit, and vegetables absorb odor, by cleaning and sanitizing the containers carrying fatty goods after every trip, you can make your fleet stay contamination-free.
By customizing electronic DVIRs, you can record all decontamination activities performed on your fleet and share it with customers and regulatory authorities.
Clean Harbors, America’s leading decontamination services provider, needed last-mile connectivity to provide decontamination services during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. By digitizing their fleet with Samsara’s real-time fleet management solution, they enabled their employees to stay safe and provide services to those who needed it the most.
To learn more about cleaning truck cabs, click here.
Technology is much better now than it was in 1797. Innovations in cold chain logistics are increasing the longevity of perishable goods like never before. If you are still not a part of the logistics bandwagon, then it’s high time you should dive in.
Visit Samsara to get the latest information about fleet management and get all the tools you need to take your business to the next level.