New trends in cold chain monitoring applications - A review

R. Badia-Melis, U. Mc Carthy, L. Ruiz-Garcia, J. Garcia-Hierro, J. I. Robla Villalba

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


Current global food supply chains are faced with an ever increasing variety of modern day societal challenges. As a direct result of these challenges many of these supply chains are operating in a “below ideal” state, resulting in approximately one third of the food produced for human consumption being wasted across the globe. A key contributory factor to such high waste is an inability to control/monitor temperature across global food supply networks. This is an issue that needs to be addressed both nationally and internationally to meet the complex challenges surrounding modern day food security, safety and integrity. There is no one single “one solution fits all” approach when it comes to addressing cold chain inefficiencies. Latest cold chain technologies, their respective advantages and disadvantages, applied to the industry are presented in the present work. Technological solutions including Radio Frequency (RF) technologies and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) are discussed within this manuscript. Their key success metric is their strategic complementarity, give the fact WSN lacks robustness and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) lacks reading range and possess limited sensing systems. Other solutions discussed include temperature estimation methods for reducing the numbers of sensors deployed, when comparing them, Neural Networks showed better approximations than Kriging and Capacitor methods given the non-linear relationship between the temperature target and the temperature source. Computational Fluid Dynamics is also presented as a commercial method to correct inefficiencies at pre-cooling stages. Thermal imaging (thermal infra-red camera) have proven to be a good temperature source for the Neural Network in temperature estimation. This article also focuses on and emphasizes the importance of a technological Internet-of-Things approach, given the fact it is key in facilitating the information exchange between items in the cold chain, RF technologies and WSN can interconnect the data and those items, and make them accessible in databases associating hardware and software. There are a number of challenges to consider when adopting any/all of the systems outlined in this manuscript. It is important to highlight however, as with all solutions there exists no single “out of the box” solution due to the fact that the composition of product, transport route, method of transport and process efficiency varies greatly across products around the globe. Each technology, in isolation, is limited in its impact and challenged in both functional capabilities and performance, however when adopted in combination these technologies offer significant value add improvement in supply chain management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-182
Number of pages13
JournalFood Control
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Cold chain
  • Food safety
  • Food waste
  • Temperature control


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