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7 Keys to Preparing for the Future of Real-time Tracking

Matthew Neidlinger | Director of Product Management,

Digital Solutions, Emerson’s Cold Chain Business

Over the next several years, 2G and 3G cellular networks will become obsolete and potentially impair the ability for real-time trackers to help provide in-transit monitoring of perishable shipments. These legacy cellular networks have provided the technology infrastructure that enabled real-time trackers to deliver live location and temperature data throughout the global perishable cold chain. But as these networks are phased out, end users will need to make the transition to cargo-tracking devices built to utilize next-generation networks.

It’s a complicated landscape, but Emerson will help you navigate this important industry evolution. Here are seven keys you need to know to ensure a smooth transition to next-generation, real-time tracking devices.

    1. Why are 2G and 3G cellular networks being phased out? The quickly evolving mobile device industry has outgrown both 2G and 3G networks. As 4G and 5G technologies roll out globally, 2G and 3G networks are becoming obsolete. Specific turndown timelines are dependent on carrier and geographic regions.
    2. What does this mean to the cargo tracking industry? Real-time trackers help end users monitor food quality and safety by providing access to location and sensor data such as temperature, humidity and much more. As 2G and 3G networks turn down, cold chain stakeholders will begin to experience gaps in their coverage, which could impair their abilities to help monitor food quality (freshness) and safety in real time.
    3. How do you know if you’re impacted? If you are currently using 2G and 3G real-time trackers, you may already be experiencing the impacts of cellular network turndown. Pay attention to your data; be on the lookout for increasing blind spots in your visibility to shipment location/temperature data.
    4. What’s taking the place of 2G and 3G networks? Real-time trackers transmit small packets of data that require relatively little memory, battery power and bandwidth. Next-generation, low-power, wide area (LPWA) 5G network technologies — such as Category M (Cat-M) and Narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) — will deliver similar performance characteristics to 2G and 3G while keeping the cost of real-time trackers affordable.
    5. When will these new networks roll out? New Cat-M 5G networks are already in the process of rolling out, and major U.S. network providers are allocating infrastructure and technology investments toward these next-generation technologies. While this trend will continue, in some countries and shipping regions, 2G will remain viable well into the future due to its installed base and cost-effectiveness.
    6. When will the next generation of real-time tracking devices be available? To minimize gaps in real-time coverage due to the 2G and 3G turndown, we are actively developing the next generation of real-time trackers that utilize multi-network technology and redundancy. These new devices will help eliminate real-time dead zones by providing global coverage for shipments that travel between regions covered by both 2G and emerging networks.
    7. How is Emerson helping the industry make this transition? The cellular landscape will be in flux for the next several years, and Emerson is doing everything we can to help prepare the cargo tracking industry for this transition. In addition to developing the next generation of GO real-time 4G/5G tracking devices, we are advising customers about which real-time trackers work best for their shipping routes and working closely with network providers to understand the timing of 2G and 3G turndowns.

Wherever your business ships its perishable cargo, we’ll help you navigate the cellular transition. For additional details on how you can implement these steps, please download our infographic.

Refrigeration Strategies for Small-Format Retailers

Andre Patenaude | Director – Solutions Integration,

Emerson’s Cold Chain Business

The trend toward smaller grocery store formats has taken hold across the global food retail industry. These small-footprint outlets — which can be located closer to customers in urban centers and universities — are designed to provide optimal shopping experiences that are tailored to appeal to customers’ regional preferences. While traditional centralized refrigeration systems are too large for these small facilities, new equipment is emerging to suit these smaller spaces and support retailers’ unique operational goals and constraints. As I discussed in a recent article for ACHR The NEWS, many retailers are adopting a more decentralized refrigeration approach to support their small-format operations.

Compared to typical large-format grocery stores — which can cover more than 100,000 square feet and are found in most suburban areas — small-format stores are usually less than 40,000 square feet in size and are popping up in non-traditional locations and under-served communities. In terms of refrigeration, large stores utilize complex refrigeration rack systems, which can contain thousands of pounds of refrigerant. Small-format stores require completely different refrigeration strategies — which often means taking a decentralizing approach for more flexibility and much lower refrigerant charges.

Space constraints drive refrigeration options

Lack of space for mechanical rooms and other facility access restrictions are among the primary considerations for small-format retailers. Some stores are located inside residential buildings, which may prevent the use of remote racks or condensing units to be installed on rooftops. In mixed-use spaces, basic considerations such as door clearances can also dictate equipment selection.
The good news for retailers is that there are many refrigeration alternatives designed to address these challenges. The alternatives are often more flexible and typically combine a distributed refrigeration architecture for primary refrigeration needs, along with stand-alone cases — which integrate the refrigeration system into the case — that can be moved around a store to support seasonal and regional offerings.
Distributed approaches to refrigeration system design typically rely on indoor or outdoor condensing unit (OCU) architectures that allow the refrigeration equipment to be installed in closer proximity to fixed display cases. Another advantage of this approach is the ability to deploy a distributed controls architecture, which allows individual refrigeration assets to be operated and controlled independently. Thus, if a facility controller were to fail, there would be little to no impact on individual assets.
In addition, utilizing distributed controls in tandem with a centralized building or facility management controller results in a hybrid approach that delivers the best of both worlds: independent asset control and centralized visibility to all assets.

Multiple approaches for varying preferences

As is the case with large-format retailers, it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for selecting a refrigeration architecture for smaller formats. From environmental sustainability to system lifecycle costs and servicing requirements, retailers have a wide range of pain points and business criteria on which to base their individual decisions. Emerson is committed to supporting small-format retailers with a variety of refrigeration solutions that can be utilized in most existing and emerging small-format architectures, including:

– A full complement of compression technologies
– Facility management controls and valves
– Copeland™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series
– Copeland™ Indoor Modular Solution

We are actively partnering with OEM and retail customers to help create high-value, small-format refrigeration solutions. By combining refrigeration technology and component portfolios with design and domain expertise, our goal is to provide fully integrated solutions that can address a wide range of end-user criteria.

Celebrating Women on STEM Day

Julie Havenar | Product Marketing Manager
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

Every year on November 8, our nation pauses to recognize the collective importance of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEM/STEAM) within our educational curricula. For Emerson, it’s also a time to reflect on how these disciplines are critical to the success of both our organization and the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry. This year on STEM Day, we celebrate the contributions of women in our organization and how STEM initiatives help to support the increased inclusion of women within our industry.

While women comprise more than half of the college-educated workforce in the United States, it’s estimated that only 29% are employed in science and engineering occupations. At Emerson, we believe in promoting workplace diversity and are doing our part to help close the STEM gender gap.

As part of our commitments to attracting, developing and retaining top female STEM candidates, we’ve developed a series of ongoing activities focused on professional development, social networking and outreach to youth and universities. Here are a few of the STEM-related initiatives we’ve promoted in 2020:

  • STEM kits: hands-on activities — Various Emerson locations created and distributed STEM kits to local elementary schools to inspire students to engage their creative thinking, imagination and ingenuity in the completion of hands-on tasks. Participants shared photos and videos of their activities for a chance to win a $50 gift card and be featured in future Emerson STEM videos.
  • Elementary school volunteering — On Valentine’s Day, Emerson employees from Kennesaw volunteered their time at a local elementary school to assist 3rd grade students with their STEM activity. While in the classroom, these volunteers were able to talk to students and answer questions about pursuing a variety of STEM careers.
  • We love STEM event — Over the summer, Emerson sponsored an elementary-level STEM educational event, which provided students with backpack kits filled with activity materials, instructions to complete projects and fun surprises.
  • Global webinar — In October, Julie Christensen, vice president, human resources measurement solutions, Emerson Automation Solutions, presented a webinar for attendees in the U.S., London and Singapore, entitled Emotional Intelligence: Your Hidden Superpower in a Changing World.
  • Guest speaker — Staff members from our office in Sidney, Ohio, were treated to a guest speaker who discussed the topic of Women Work Experience in Engineering.
  • TED Talk lunch and learn — This informative session featured TED Talk videos from female professional role models: Why Do Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads by Dame Stephanie Shirley; and The Secret to Giving Great Feedback by Leann Rennigner.
  • Halloween pumpkin painting and carving contest — The Sidney office also participated in a pumpkin decorating contest, which put participants’ artistic skills to the test by capturing the spirit of Halloween. Categories included: scariest, best carved, most STEM-related and most creative.

All these events and activities are representative of our continuing efforts to integrate STEM into Emerson’s culture and give more women seats at the science and engineering table. We truly believe that Emerson’s women in STEM are transforming our company by providing fresh perspectives and new insights that make us a more well-rounded and successful organization — while advancing our served industries and women’s participation in STEM disciplines around the globe. View this video to learn more about Emerson’s commitment to women in STEM.

Introducing the Next Generation of Real-time Cargo Tracking Devices

Matthew Neidlinger | Director of Product Management,

Digital Solutions, Emerson’s Cold Chain Business

The global rollout of 4G and 5G cellular networks will deliver the high-speed, high-bandwidth capabilities preferred by the mobile device industry. But for those stakeholders in the perishable supply chain, this transition also will phase out legacy 2G and 3G cellular networks and usher in a technology shift that will impact their abilities to track in-transit temperatures and locations of shipments. Fortunately, Emerson has developed the next generation of real-time tracking devices that will bridge the gap between 2G and the next generation of low-power, wide-area (LPWA) 5G networks to ensure continuous tracking of perishable shipments.

What’s the alternative to 2G and 3G networks?

Most of the real-time trackers in use have been designed with cellular connectivity protocols that utilize 2G or 3G SIM cards. In many ways, these networks ideally are suited for the data requirements of the cargo tracking industry, which just need to transmit small packets of data periodically — such as live location and temperature information. Simply put, tracking devices don’t require the same bandwidth, memory and data transmission requirements of high-end mobile handsets.

That’s why Emerson’s GO real-time trackers were originally designed to utilize 2G and 3G cellular network technologies. Thus, these devices can be manufactured and sold at accessible price points without compromising their ability to perform their critical functions. With the sunsetting of 2G and 3G networks, real-time tracking devices will need to transition to the next generation of cellular network technology (i.e., 5G). But rather than utilizing expensive bands designed for mobile handsets, our new GO real-time Trackers will leverage emerging LPWA 4G and 5G network technologies that evolved from 4G LTE:

  • Category M (Cat-M), where “M” stands for mobile
  • Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT)

As the logical successors to 2G and 3G, these 4G/5G networks will allow the next generation of real-time trackers to transmit valuable sensor data while helping to keep real-time trackers cost-effective.

The next generation of real-time trackers is here

Our Digital Solutions business is committed to helping the perishable cold chain industry make this transition. To bridge the gap between 2G and emerging technologies and ensure uninterrupted tracking and help monitoring, we are developing the next generation of real-time tracking devices that utilize 5G and the new Cat-M and NB-IoT networks. The first of these new devices is already available: the GO real-time 4G/5G Tracker.

This release is part of our efforts to expand our suite of 2G and 3G real-time trackers with new devices engineered to enable multi-network compatibility. In doing so, these new devices will help eliminate real-time dead zones by providing coverage for shipments that travel between 2G and emerging 5G networks. Like our previous generation of devices, the GO real-time 4G/5G tracker provides the following key functionalities:

  • Help to monitor in-transit conditions such as temperature, location, light and humidity for up to 20 days of continuous operation.
  • Notify users in real-time via text or email if any adverse conditions arise during shipment (when configured with our Oversight software portal).

In the coming months, Emerson plans to release additional 4G/5G models that offer an expanded in-use life of up to 60 days and a reusable device platform. Our next generation of devices will be available in dual- and tri-mode network capabilities.

From 2G and 3G to 5G (Cat-M and NB-IoT) — Sunset and roll-out timing

As the evolving mobile device industry transitions to 4G LTE and 5G technologies around the world, our industry will see more 2G and 3G networks become obsolete. This transition is already taking place but will be in flux for the next several years, with specific turndown timelines dependent on the cellular carrier and global or regional preferences.

From a cargo tracking industry perspective, it’s important to realize that coverage zones may vary and there may not be worldwide conformity for some time. This variability will create complexity when trying to ensure real-time coverage of perishable shipments around the globe. Emerson is doing everything we can to help prepare the cargo tracking industry for this cellular network transition. Read our informative white paper to learn how you can ensure uninterrupted real-time cargo tracking of perishable shipments.



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