warehouse (Don Pablo/Shutterstock.com)

2018 Government Innovation Awards

Using sensors to understand temperature’s effect on the supply chain

Medicine can be temperamental when it comes to temperature. “It’s important to remember that these products can be less effective if they’re not kept in the right conditions,” said Scott Dubin, team lead for warehousing and distribution at Chemonics International.

Ambient Temperature Monitoring in the Global Health Supply Chain

U.S. Agency for International Development

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The U.S. Agency for International Development is working with Dubin and his team to create a sensor network that can monitor the temperature of medicine at various points of the supply chain, from the truck to the warehouse.

The team has deployed cloud-connected sensors on the exterior and interior of warehouses in Mozambique and is working on doing the same in other countries. The sensors will provide insight into how long it takes the outside temperature to affect the indoor environment, which will lead to recommendations for reducing so-called temperature excursions. Solutions could include upgrades to warehouses or packaging.

The sensors are connected to the cloud via a SIM card or gateway. In addition, sensor-outfitted trucks will have GPS units so that their locations can be tracked along with temperatures.

In the past, an on-site person typically collected such data as infrequently as once a day. “We wanted to remove the human interaction and have something that’s constantly running and easy to maintain,” Dubin said.

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