From ice cream to organs

The Internet of Things (IoT) is typically associated with smart homes or vehicles. One compelling, and perhaps lesser known, use case is asset tracking. IoT can enable items to be tracked anywhere, any place, at any time. It can also provide information on the item’s state and environment, including the level of humidity or light exposure, or evidence of tampering. Mohsen Mohseninia, VP of Market Development, Europe at Aeris, and Richard Jennings, CEO and co-founder at TrackerSense, demonstrate the scope of IoT asset tracking with five unusual use cases.


Those in the business of selling and shipping ice cream face quite the logistical challenge – how to transport the popular icy dessert across terrains of varying climates. No one likes melted ice cream, especially not when it hits profit margins. If ice cream arrives at its destination spoiled, it could cost the manufacturer thousands. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of temperature changes during transit. For example, in one case of spoiled ice cream, an IoT enabled asset tracker pinpointed the exact moment when the temperature changed and caused the ice cream to defrost – it was when the shipment was transferred from one vehicle to another at a depot. This type of information has the potential to save a lot of money in addition to protecting a company’s reputation.


The pharmaceutical sector ships time critical and extremely sensitive assets. Take, for example, vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies must now ensure that a shipment of vaccines is closely monitored and secure in order to ensure its safe arrival at its destination, wherever that may be in the world. With advances in cellular technology, GPS and location-based technology, it is now possible to pinpoint the exact location of these vital assets, thereby enabling quick and decisive action should an issue occur. The IoT can also track environmental variables such as temperature, humidity and exposure to light, which may damage medical cargo.


It is hard to think of a more precious, and time sensitive, delivery to track than blood or organs scheduled for transplant. In addition to monitoring temperature and other environmental variables, tracking can enable vital minutes to be saved. It is possible for the delivery company to geofence a hospital, enabling an automatic alert to be sent as soon as an organ arrives, or even when it is close to arrival, helping to ensure hospital staff are on hand to collect the delivery. In this case, every second counts.


The delivery of exam papers is not a particular risky business, however returning the completed answers from students is a different story! It is not uncommon for sacks of completed examinations to go missing if not tracked. It may be the case that a courier has lost a package, or it has been left behind in a depot. This can cost an examination board thousands per delivery. Trackers can locate the assets and also, importantly, detect tampering by monitoring if the package has been exposed to light or opened.


Lastly, and perhaps most sobering, is the use of IoT to track the transportation of human remains. For example, companies that specialise in turning ashes into precious jewellery, IoT assists with the accurate tracking of such a sensitive cargo. This can help to ensure compliance with shipping regulations, which can vary according to each country.


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