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Posts from the ‘Cold Chain’ Category

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.

Celebrating Women on STEM Day

Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
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.

 

 

Prepare for the Future of Real-time Cargo Tracking

Matthew Neidlinger | Director of Product Management,

Digital Solutions, Emerson’s Cold Chain Business

The real-time cargo tracking industry is changing. For years, 2G and 3G cellular networks have enabled real-time trackers to deliver live location and temperature data on shipments traveling throughout the global perishable cold chain. But in many parts of the world, the mobile device industry is outgrowing the use of 2G and 3G; many of these legacy networks are turning down to make room for newer 4G and 5G options. As this transition takes place over the next several years all around the globe, end-users of real-time cargo tracking devices may experience gaps in their live shipment monitoring and tracking capabilities.

What the 2G turndown means to perishable cold chain stakeholders

In recent years, real-time trackers have become essential tools for helping to monitor food quality and safety in the perishable supply chain. For many cold chain leaders, Emerson’s GO real-time trackers are viewed as essential, cost-effective devices for protecting their valuable shipments. Combined with a cloud-enabled technology infrastructure and supporting Oversight software, this solution grants growers, logistics companies and food retailers live access to in-transit shipment location and sensor data they need to help monitor food quality and safety — such as levels of temperature, humidity, light exposure and much more.

But as 2G and 3G networks become obsolete, end-users of these real-time tracking devices may experience data gaps in their in-transit shipment coverage, which could result in:

  • Inability to help monitor food quality (freshness) and safety in real-time
  • Missing real-time alerts (emails/text messages) of temperature excursions
  • Incomplete data for prompt resolution of shipment disputes
  • Potential risks to brand reputations

If your company is currently using 2G and 3G real-time trackers, you already may have experienced the impacts of cellular network turndown. However, if you’re not closely monitoring in-transit shipment data, you may not even be aware of gaps in your real-time data. Moving forward, it’s important to be vigilant of any disruptions in coverage. Look for the following signs of network connectivity issues:

  • Increasing blind spots in visibility to shipment location/temperature data
  • Intermittent brownouts of real-time access
  • Gaps in historic trip coverage and data points

What is Emerson doing to help you navigate the cellular transition?

The cellular network transition has created a complex landscape that will be in flux for the next several years. As cold chain experts and cargo industry stewards, Emerson is doing everything possible to help prepare the cargo tracking industry for this ongoing transition. We’re addressing this challenge on multiple fronts by:

  • Working closely with our customers to determine which real-time trackers work best for their shipping routes
  • Communicating with cellular companies to get a better understanding of the specific timing of 2G and 3G network turndowns
  • Developing the next generation of real-time trackers that utilize emerging low-power, wide-area (LPWA) 4G and 5G network technologies

Wherever your business ships its perishable cargo, Emerson is committed to helping you navigate this cellular transition. Our subsequent blog will discuss the timing of the 2G network turndown, emerging cellular technologies, and the next generation of devices designed to bridge the gap between 2G and 4G/5G networks. Read our informative white paper to learn how we’re helping the industry achieve uninterrupted real-time cargo tracking of perishable shipments.

Pandemic Drives Changes in Grocery Store and Refrigeration Designs

Katrina Krites | Marketing and Business Development

Manager, Food Retail, Emerson’s Cold Chain Business

 

As essential businesses, food retailers were among the few sectors that had remained open during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Staying open meant they would have to adapt quickly to new operating protocols, which often included one-way aisles, plexiglass shields at registers and enhanced cleaning procedures. Grocers were also inundated with high volumes of click-and-collect orders, which tested their e-fulfillment capabilities and presented additional challenges. I recently contributed to an ACHR News article discussing the shifting grocery landscape and its potential impacts on store and refrigeration system designs.

 

Attempts to provide “contactless” shopping experiences were among the first areas of focus, as store layouts were modified to limit the need to touch physical items and surfaces. While these were originally intended as stop-gap strategies, some of these short-term measures have already become more permanent elements of in-store designs. In fact, new store builds and remodels will likely feature layouts and case placements that are designed to adhere to as many safeguards as possible and provide much-needed merchandizing flexibility.

Of course, this shift will also affect the type of refrigeration architectures grocers select to address these emerging challenges. Flexibility in refrigeration translates first into the ability to meet typical capacities, but also provides the freedom to scale up or down to meet fluctuations in demand — such as staging additional self-contained cases or enabling variable-capacity modulation in walk-in units that support click-and-collect.

Shoring up stores for click-and-collect

While demand for click-and-collect fulfillment surged significantly during the initial onset of the pandemic, months later it shows little to no signs of letting up. In fact, recent reports indicate a 23 percent growth in click-and-collect adoption from June to July. Many experts believe this change in consumer behavior will represent a more permanent change in buying habits — although the degree to which it becomes a preferred shopping method remains to be seen.

Fortunately for most major retailers, click-and-collect capabilities have been in place for several years. But that doesn’t mean they were necessarily prepared for pandemic-level order volumes. In terms of fulfillment and execution, this emerging business model presents a variety of cold storage, picking and associated labor requirements.

As retailers respond to the increased amount of online shopping, they will need to account for fluctuations in consumer demand and the impacts on refrigeration equipment loads. Refrigeration design strategies with variable-capacity modulating compressors — such as the Copeland™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line Series and Copeland scroll compressors — will help retailers balance click-and-collect refrigeration loads more effectively.

Another effective strategy is to implement “dark stores,” which are dedicated online fulfillment centers. Retailers who operate dark stores essentially take load fluctuations from click-and-collect activities out of the equation, which may make it easier to balance refrigeration loads. Whichever method is preferred, retailers will ultimately approach click-and-collect services differently, depending on their local demographics and store design strategies.

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