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Ryan Closser FourKites headshotRyan ClosserDirector of Project Management, Network Collaboration

An iron-clad cold chain is never complete without end-to-end visibility

When you think of traditional weather-related logistics challenges, you often think of snow-swept expressways, flooded rail lines or hurricane-stricken seaports. Very rarely do you think of a hot, sunny day as a logistics challenge — that is, unless you’re shipping temperature-sensitive or refrigerated goods.

From ice cream to premium beer, fresh produce and even chemicals, the meticulous process of keeping your freight within safe temperature standards across your supply chain is an incredible feat. Planning for disruption, the handoff between providers, and the inevitable delay in unloading all influence the decisions you make to maximize how many goods make it to their destination unspoiled.

How do you optimize your temperature-controlled supply chain? How do you remove the guesswork? With each shipment potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, keeping tabs on the health of inventory across your supply chain is mission critical.

The Most Critical Aspect of Cold Chain Strategy

Your crew opens a trailer and an alarming stench wafts across the loading dock – something went wrong. Who is responsible? Without a record of temperature over the course of your freight’s journey, it’s hard to determine.

With a supply chain visibility platform capable of SKU-level visibility,, chain of custody is backstopped by a complete ledger of temperature across its journey. Recognizing when a shipment failed can help a shipper or receiver mitigate cost and liability for a temperature excursion.

Contending With a Multimodal Network

What happens when that simple a-to-b shipment turns into half the alphabet? As your freight gets handed off from one provider to the next, the details and granularity of your shipment information – including temperature – can get a little fuzzy. Root causing a failure can become an impossibility, oftentimes leaving you on the hook for thousands of dollars of spoiled goods.

Modern supply chain intelligence platforms act as the membrane that connects the different nodes of your supply chain, aggregating and standardizing data into a single source of truth. This view allows you to quickly determine temperature compliance throughout the journey to pinpoint when and where something went wrong.

The Power of Proactivity

There’s a lot to be said about root cause analysis, but what if you could avoid a failure before it even happens? Modern visibility platforms provide applications that enable daily crews to operationalize solutions in real-time, chipping away at supply chain waste and helping you achieve KPIs like reduced product spoilage and overall cold chain efficiency.

One of the biggest opportunities occurs at one of your network’s most draining efficiency bottlenecks: a warehouse or distribution center yard. As the cataclysmic ripple effect of missed appointments, congestion and lean crews decimate the accuracy of dock schedules, some yards play host to dozens – potentially hundreds – of live, running refrigerated trailers, each with the potential to fail.

Current yard processes are usually manual systems, full of human error and blindspots. The latest supply chain intelligence platforms include applications like a yard management system (YMS) that are natively integrated, enabling the platform to automatically log refrigerated trailers and assign yard workers the task of checking and logging the condition of each trailer on a specific cadence – this eliminates the potential for a trailer to fail without warning.

End-to-End Should be On a Single Platform

As you consider your investment in supply chain intelligence to gain total control over your cold chain, be sure to choose a platform that can deliver end-to-end visibility in a single pane of glass. While many providers tout end-to-end visibility, oftentimes their platforms are siloed systems that create walls within your organization, potentially leading to more finger-pointing than before. Cold chain compliance is a critical part of your business strategy – don’t let multiple log-ins obscure visibility to where compliance has gone wrong.


Since 2014, FourKites has helped shippers from across the temperature-sensitive spectrum shed light on hidden costs and challenges within their cold chain. With the industry’s largest pool of data fueling innovative applications that harness AI and machine learning, your business can finally wrest control over product spoilage and chain of custody issues. For more information, contact us at hello@fourkites.com

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