If you are working in the food industry, and you are dealing with the international transportation of reefer cargo, one of your main concerns is whether your goods are going to be fit for consumption once they reach their final destination.

A lot of my seafood clients in Massachusetts cannot help but wonder if the extra freight they are paying for the temperature-controlled environment that all carriers promise is money well-spent. When their customer overseas opens a container, and sees that frozen fish or seafood started its journey from New Bedford, MA only to arrive in Europe with freeze injuries, a whole new marathon begins for the return of the cargo. The customer is not happy, and certainly the carrier that is responsible for the move is not happy at all. So, besides downloading alerts that the reefer box has been recorded at the POD, to solely document what went wrong during its journey, is there anything else that can be done?

Maersk introduced something new in 2017 that allows you to track your shipments in real-time, and monitor the temperature of your reefer container, even while in transit.

Both carriers and shippers now have the ability to monitor the temperature, and atmosphere, of a reefer box at any time and point of its journey. They call it RCM (Remote Container Management), and basically utilize the same technology that we use in our everyday lives – a SIM card, Wi-Fi, and GPS.

The benefits of RCM are obvious for two simple reasons.

First, because corrective action from the carrier’s technicians can take place to fix the problem. Either by being physically present, or by doing so remotely, they can restore the correct settings of the container and save the cargo. Second, if the problem is beyond repair, and the cargo is doomed to be damaged, the shipper can at least notify the end receiver ahead of the container’s arrival. This helps both parties better plan both the replacement of the order and the return or destruction of the cargo. Never before has the shipper had that kind of visibility in the supply chain that helps them coordinate, and better plan for the future.

Although chilled cargo is more sensitive to temperature discrepancies, I am confident that seafood players in Boston can sleep better at night, knowing that the reefer services provided for their frozen fish and seafood today are more reliable than ever before. RCM is a hot topic that is definitely going to be discussed at the Seafood Expo taking place from March 11th to 13th, 2018. Personally, I cannot wait to taste the amazing food, and discuss more on RCM, and many other new technologies in the industry with old friends and new acquaintances. Soon enough, we may all be asking Siri about the condition of our cargo in reefer containers.

“Hey Siri…What’s the weather like…inside my container to Bremerhaven?”