Jim Sassen is the senior manager of product marketing at Omnitracs LLC., and Monica Wyly is the  director of marketingBy Jim Sassen and Monica Wyly, Omnitracs LLC

The transport of food poses a safety risk—especially for dairy products, which require a constant temperature below 40 degrees in order to protect its quality and viability. In addition, food and beverages are the most common types of cargo stolen in transit, according to Freight Watch International’s 2013 Global Cargo Theft Threat Assessment report. With organized crime targeting the food industry, transport vehicles are a prime target. Once cargo leaves the farm or shipping warehouse, the ability to control and protect the product lessens, as there are a number of things that can compromise the integrity of a load and its chain of custody.

Fleet management technology is the solution that all fleets should consider as their first and strongest line of defense for safety and security in food transport. Aside from the benefits that such technology delivers in terms of routing, compliance, fuel management, vehicle maintenance and hours of service compliance, it also addresses back office concerns related to theft, efficiency, operational costs and safety. Additionally, fleet management solutions provide a wealth of cargo and trip-related data that can be translated into actionable intelligence to meaningfully impact a company’s bottom line. As it directly relates to the transport of refrigerated dairy foods, fleet management technology integrated with proper sensors ensures that companies can control and document temperature adherence across the entire movement of the load, receive prompt notification of tampering, unscheduled departures or entry, and archive a detailed trail showing the route traveled and related driver activities.

Mitigate the risks in the transporting dairy foods and beverages

The transport of dairy products to store shelves opens a number of complexities and risks related to temperature control. Whether these events are intentional or unintentional, it is imperative that the product not be compromised. Temperature control is a big challenge. The cargo must be kept at an appropriate and constant temperature throughout the entire delivery process. If temperatures are not maintained, dairy foods can quickly spoil and cost companies thousands of dollars in product that can no longer be sold to the public.

There are a number of intuitive, practical and data driven solutions that offer applications that monitor trailer temperature, door opening sensors and unauthorized drops, all in an effort to mitigate these risks. Driver-oriented workflow solutions are also extremely helpful in prompting certain location-based activities that help ensure required tasks are completed. With timely and accurate data related to temperatures and cargo, companies can better ensure the safe and efficient transport of their product.

Location tracking empowers managers of dairy fleets with information about where the trucks are

A common concern voiced by many in the dairy food industry relates to knowing where their delivery trucks are at any moment. Are they en route? Has the driver taken an alternative route? Is the driver lost? Has the truck broken down? Has the delivery been completed? All of these questions can be easily answered with the right fleet management solution. Location tracking is a critical capability to a dairy fleet as it empowers managers with information about the location of its trucks. Fleet management technology also helps fleets monitor the status and location of trailers and containers, and can detect the presence or absence of cargo via sensors. This level of data is vital, as it relates to fleet security. Should a theft occur, monitoring and recovery becomes more likely through tracking technology that can help locate a stolen truck or tanker.

Tracking technology can also help document the cargo’s chain of custody. The onus is on the company to verify everything that took place during transport, and vehicle tracking leaves a detailed breadcrumb trail. Chain of custody is important to dairy manufacturers, as such visibility gives an end-to-end picture of the products’ transport path, and ensures that that the cargo was properly managed and maintained throughout. As the Food Safety Modernization Act gains momentum and final ruling is implemented in stages throughout 2015 and 2016, the chain of custody will be further scrutinized, with food manufacturers being held to a higher level of accountability and transparency during transport.

The ROI is apparent when dairy products arrive on time, at the right temperature

Blind spots do exist in the transport of dairy foods and pose opportunities for loss of control. However, proactive dairy fleets are realizing that investing in fleet management technology not only helps mitigate safety and security concerns during transport, but also enables business-critical objectives to maintain competitive while managing costs without sacrificing productivity. When your product arrives at the right temperature, with its quality intact, your company’s bottom line will benefit.

By Jim Sassen is the senior manager of product marketing at Omnitracs LLC., and Monica Wyly is the director of marketing.