Is your cold chain compliant? Host Carson Garner sits down with Carlos Carrillo and Emily Saldivar to discuss the importance of temperature monitoring. From food waste to pharmaceuticals, they lay out the impact of tracking temperature and how it leads to a safer, more environmentally-friendly world by empowering logistics companies to maintain compliance with industry regulations.
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Carson: Welcome back, everyone to our Link Labs podcast, Get Linked. I'm your host, Carson Garner, and today for the first time ever, I have two very special guests joining me for a conversation on cold chain monitoring and how Link Labs can help logistics companies stay ahead of compliance. My two guests today are Carlos Carrillo and Emily Saldivar. Carlos is the Regional Business Development Director here at Link Labs that specializes in logistics. And Emily is a Marketing Specialist at Link Labs that actually plays a giant role in bringing our podcast together. Today, Carlos, Emily, and I will be discussing why cold chain monitoring and trailer tracking are essential for companies. We'll be discussing the recent FDA FSMA regulation rule edition, and lastly, we'll be discussing how cold supply chains are impacted by that rule edition. Just as a quick disclaimer Link Labs does not offer any legal services whatsoever or advice. We're just simply telling you what we've learned through our own individual research. So let's get started. Welcome back, Carlos, and welcome Emily to the Get Linked podcast.
Carlos: Thanks for having me.
Emily: Thanks for having us.
Carson: So Carlos, you were actually at a trade show last, the past two or three weeks. Tell me a little, a little bit about how that went.
Carlos: Yeah, so it's been, it's been a crazy ride. So, we've been, kind of walking a couple shows just to see what's good for Link Labs and what partners we can find through these trade shows. So the last one was probably one of the best trade shows I've ever been to. And I've been doing this for 10 plus years and just the level of engagement, the interaction, everybody was just willing to kind of like chatting with us and it's good when you start talking and someone's like, oh my gosh, we need to schedule a meeting, let's talk right away. So I probably had a handful of those people just wanting to know where their assets are and in a quick simple easily deployable system that doesn't have to require too much installation. A lot of our devices are plugged in place, so we got a ton of interaction with customers regarding just our asset tracker. So super excited to start working with clients that we've met over the past couple of weeks during these trade shows and finding partners and resellers; it's been great.
Carson: Awesome. Yeah. So we've actually had you on the podcast. And last time we had you, we talked a little bit about cold chain monitoring and trailer tracking and how important that is for companies to implement in their strategy in order to remain compliant and to protect critical assets that could be damaged or spoiled easily. Could you educate our listeners on a few specific reasons why it is important for companies to implement trailer tracking and cold chain monitoring to advance their supply chain?
Carlos: So in today's market, I don't know the exact percentage but many fleets, they kind of leave their trailer, their dry trailers, their flatbed trailers unmonitored today. A lot of fleets look at trailers as and it's not a truck that produces majority of their income for them. They kind of lose track, lose focus. I think I was talking to a big national account and they were saying that sometimes we see this trailer maybe two or three times in its life cycle. And if you think of that, you have a, a trailer for 10 plus years and you see it three times, it's not an asset that has a ton of usage or a ton of visibility where there's other people using the trailer, you wanna know where your assets are. So with trailer tracking, a lot of the technologies on the market today, are just either too expensive or there's a lot of costs and hardware and installation involved. So for us, the reason why a lot of companies are wanting to schedule some time with us is because we can just plug and play. We stick it on a trailer give you anywhere from 3 to 7 years of battery life on that tag and you've got visibility for less than sub $10. It's insane. So, with both hardware and service, we can truly give you that visibility. And then for cold chain, a lot of those trailers that have a reefer unit on the front of it, they automatically have Telematics. So where a lot of the assets are because of the telematics within the carrier and Thermo King and Cortex solutions that are out there on the market. So they have some connectivity. The problem is utilization and understanding where you're burning fuel when the reefer units are on and then when it comes to tracking the pallet, a lot of those solutions, they don't track the pallet. How do you know if that pallet maintains temperature throughout the entire trip? What if something happens when they're on the road and a driver doesn't catch it? And this load is out of temperature for over an hour, over two hours. That's where you kind of get into those problems. Or what if something was dropped? You've got some sensitive products, sensitive food and they're dropped. So, that's when you get into the integrity of the actual pallet itself. It dropped, was there any damage on the inside of that reefer unit? You just, you never know. And then I can't tell you how many calls I've gotten where a fleet, had a load of, cold food and they blocked the vents, they stack it too high and they blocked the vents and they're rushing to a dealership to try to figure out why the reefer hasn't kept its temperature. Well, it's because the vents were blocked. So there's a lot of different things like that, that play effect. And understanding on a per pallet basis were a lot of that food temperatures managed? How compliant were you in the delivery process from farm to table? I know we're getting a lot more into that as we get more educated on this cold chain system.
Carson: Yeah, and you mentioned cost efficiency. Why would you say that Link Labs is more cost efficient than any other asset tracking provider?
Carlos: So the thing is, just the way that our solution works. So if you think about GPS, GPS is expensive; satellite, two-way communication is really, really expensive. So with the last company that I had worked for, we did a lot of two-way communication for reefer control. So that’s sending a signal in receiving a signal back to the unit trying to communicate with the unit itself. So, you can kind of control that temperature. So, with us, we're a simple solution. We give you the visibility that you need for literally a fraction of the cost, it's probably a quarter of the cost of what it costs to run a full-blown like telematics or GPS-type system. And if you talk satellite, it's even more. It's, astronomical, and with us, with our price point, it just makes sense to kind of just see where we are, see the number of alerts that you truly, really need as a fleet. Do you need more alerts if you don't? Ok. Let's take it back a little bit. Take out some of the unnecessary events that are kind of hindering your battery life and let's, just get you exactly what you need for you to be happy with when it comes to visibility, get you the dots on the map that you want. And then boom, you're off to the races and, you have full-blown visibility of where your assets are, your pallet tracking. We've got a lot of cool features with ours where you can see with, one single SuperTag, you can see how many pallets are on the trailer. So when your drivers are making deliveries, hey, is this trailer, is it 65% full? How full is my trailer? And you can see all that information literally on the fly as you're making deliveries throughout the day.
Carson: Wow. Pretty awesome. It sounds awesome. Emily, I'm gonna drag you in here. I know you've done extensive research on FSMA, which is the Food Safety Modernization Act. And they just added a new regulation to FSMA. That's gotten a lot of people talking. Can you explain what this regulation is and the purpose that it has in the cold chain monitoring space?
Emily: Yeah, so the FSMA was enacted just over 10 years ago. But like you said, there was a recent rule edition that was actually in January, so very recent and that's why a lot of people are talking about it. But the FSMA was put in place because every year there's hundreds of thousands of cases of foodborne illnesses. And the FDA wanted to shift the focus from treating foodborne illnesses to preventing it in the first place. So that comes down to the farmers and what are they doing? What precautionary steps are they taking? What about the distributors? But, like Carlos is talking, what's the temperature on the truck? They need to know the temperature on the truck, so if anything's going bad in the truck, they know what happened. So yeah, it's, it's really important to hold those companies accountable so that, people aren't getting sick all the time.
Carson: Yeah. And, like you said, the accountability is what matters because a lot of these companies are holding sensitive items. It could be, anything from medicine to lettuce and things that can spoil very easily and you need to make sure that it's the right temperature at all times while it's on transit. So you said there's a lot of rules under this regulation; which ones apply specifically to the distributors?
Emily: So the main rule that I would say that applies to them is the Sanitary Transport Rule. This rule has to do with making sure that the transportation is a safe process of getting the food from point A to point B. So that's making sure the trailer has been properly cleaned, making sure that it has a working refrigerator on it, and making sure that it's working properly, and keeping track of all that information in one area of record keeping is especially important so that, when there's an issue that goes wrong, they have the reports. Hey, look, it says that it was the right temperature the entire time. It wasn't my fault, so they can basically cover their butts. The second rule I would say is the Protection Against Intentional Alteration. This is for any tampering that might happen during transit. You don't want to think about worst-case scenario. You want to hope that everyone's doing their job the way they're supposed to be. But unfortunately, there's some bad people out there and you just wanna keep yourself safe from those bad people. Like I said, temperature monitoring, you can know if something was tampered with; maybe the refrigerator was tampered with and the temperature was way higher than it needed to be or way lower than it needed to be. Another one is Preventive Control for Human and Animal food. This encourages companies or requires companies to have a food safety plan in place. So, maybe not intentional tampering, but maybe there was an accident and people weren't paying attention and steps were missed and now the food has gone bad.
Carlos: To touch on your point, so a lot of telematics companies that offer these cold chain solutions, a lot of them have like sensors on the door. So if you want to know how long a door has been open, you have to have the right equipment on your trailers. You have to have door sensors. You have to understand how long that door is open. And why was this door open for two hours? When it was running, you're burning through fuel. So, one of the things that we really focused on at one of the previous companies that I worked at was utilization and understanding how long that reefer unit is running, how long it's taking to load the unit, why we're burning through fuel four or five hours before the four or five hours before it needs to, it needs even beyond. So, a lot of Telematics companies are helping these fleets get those reports that can help them drive those data-driven decisions for performance-enhancing benefits for the different locations. And hey, this location is performing better than this location. These guys are doing things the right way, but having the right equipment, your fuel sensors, your door sensors, all of your temperature probes. There's a lot of different technology that you can use today to give you better data, give you better visibility on all of your food from the second it's in your control, in your possession. You can, you can help kind of control that process better and, and be a part of the solution. Not the problem.
Emily: Exactly. There's one more rule which is the recent addition to the FSMA and that's the Requirements for Additional Traceability Records for Certain Foods. And this affects a lot of part of parts of the cold chain. So certain parts of the cold chain will have different requirements under this rule. But for distributors, it has a lot to do with, like I said before keeping track of what are you doing with it? How are you taking care of it? And just holding yourself accountable and making sure that you're taking the proper steps to make sure that the food gets safely to the grocery store or wherever you're bringing it.
Carson: And it sounds like most of these rules have to do with temperature monitoring and reporting. Carlos, Can you talk a little bit more about how temperature monitoring would work for companies that invest in asset tracking with sensors?
Carlos: Yeah. So, when you're tracking food, a lot of times there's a lot of different temperatures that are associated with it. I don't know if this has ever happened to any fleet, but have you ever had food in the wrong bay inside of the trailer, was it supposed to be in bay number one instead of bay number two? Have there ever been any accidents or, things like that cause your food to shift around, or let's say, let's say if things are not stored properly or loaded properly? That's when a lot of these mistakes happen. So getting down to the pallet level when it comes to temperature tracking is really big and I know there's a lot of restaurant companies out there that have mass amounts of food getting moved from point A to point B. They invest heavily into getting that granular level of temperature. And making sure that let's say meat or dairy or any produce. Making sure that it's at the temperature of the entire time that it leaves the distributor to the store to the table. It all depends. It’s all important. All of that plays a big toll. I don't know if you've ever been on a road trip and you have a nice meal, you get back to your hotel room and you just feel sick. It's food poisoning. That nine times out of ten is because the food was mismanaged. Whether at the logistics provider at the carrier, at the restaurant. There's a lot of things that, have a play but, there's literally a couple of trips. Literally the first trade show I went on this year. I just, got sick and got food poisoning and didn't know what the cause was. Well, knew it was after that last dinner I had; it just didn't feel well. Didn't sit right with me. So, I don't know if anyone else can relate to that, but it happens all the time, more than you think. So trying to certify that process and have a process in place where you understand the temperature based off of a sensor and we can do it a lot of different ways. But, truly understanding, hey, this, this pallet A pallet B, these two maintain temperature the entire trip, but pallet C there was a period of time where it was off the truck and it wasn't stored correctly and it dropped by X amount of degrees for X amount of time. All that information, all that data is crucial. So there's a lot that we can help do to kind of dot our I's and cross our Ts for that temperature control.
Carson: And I'm not even gonna ask you what the food was that you ate.
Carlos: Yeah, I don't know. I think it was, so I ordered some meatballs. And they just didn't sit well with me. They were like all these healthy meatballs and they weren't. Yeah, I didn't like them.
Carson: I'm not gonna make any other companies feel bad. Yeah, what would you say are some additional benefits that those asset sensors could provide?
Carlos: So giving you visibility and just levels where you just never thought. So, if you have a lot of assets and, you don't want to have a full-blown, network or, sim card attached to that asset. There's a lot that we can do on the back end with our XLE and BLE technology. So, we can throw one of our SuperTags on hub mode and from there, we can scan as many tags as you want. So, I think the safe number for us is we can throw any number of SuperTags in hub mode to scan all the technologies that you have or all the assets that you have and give you that visibility where just in other situations you wouldn't be able to have. So, the cool thing about our technology is that it's very low energy. You're not exuberating a ton of data. Everything is super easy on the battery life. So we can still guarantee that battery life when you're using the product and when it's deployed in the field. So, anywhere where you're like, man, I never thought I'd be able to track this kind of asset. Literally down to things like a pan or a tray or a cart, we can get that level of accuracy on site if you want location everywhere, we have a solution for that. So there's two different systems that we have where we can give you the visibility that you're looking for long term for a lot of these assets that are just tough to track. There's no power or, you thought it was just way too expensive to put a tracker on. Well, we have the low-cost version of that. So that's why we're super excited about a lot of the things that we have coming in the pipeline and some of the partnerships that we're gonna be working on any Telematics provider if you have a full-blown Telematics, Well, we have a low-end solution that you can offer where someone can put a tracker on a pallet on a trailer, on a flatbed, on a piece of construction equipment and give you some visibility on assets where normally they wouldn't, like any visibility or they just thought it was too, too expensive. But we have an alternative to that and it still gives you high quality, we can integrate with, with Telematics partners. So it's on the same map. So you're literally using your system and our system in unison and we're partnered and we still give you that level of visibility. And we're one company right on the same map. So it's pretty great.
Carson: Yeah, and and throughout our podcast episodes, we put a strong emphasis on promoting asset tracking, promoting Link Labs and what we can provide to people. But I'm so happy to have Emily here because she knows a little bit more about the compliance which we don't really talk much about the background behind everything. Emily, if these companies, and I’m gonna shift it back to compliance, if these companies aren't compliant, what are the consequences? And who do they fall on?
Emily: Well, there are a few different consequence options depending on how many offenses you've had and how big the offense was, but the most often that you'll see is reinspection fees. If you're not compliant, then the FDA is gonna come do inspections all the time up until you finally get your things in order and you've become compliant again, but these fees can be really high and depending on how long it takes you to get better, it might be a lot of money that it's costing you. Another one that we see very often is product recalls. How often do you hear on the news that another type of lettuce has been recalled? We hear that all the time, and once again that's costing the companies a lot of money because now they paid all that money already for the lettuce and now they have to reput it out and take everything back in and it's just a lot of cost involved. And the worst consequence that you can probably have is getting a suspension of your registration. Sometimes you're suspended only for a little bit of time and other times you might just get your license revoked and you can't sell this food anymore, but hopefully after the first offense, you might be trying to take a few actions to prevent that from happening again in the next place.
Carlos: And I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but there's a ton of grocery stores that don't even hold their own food. They contract it out, they use third parties because they don't want the liability for the food. So they'll use big food haulers that they literally specialize in hauling food, some focus on milk, some focus on dairy, some on meats. They find a specialty and they focus on it and then these big grocers, I don't wanna name names but they use third parties when it comes to hauling their own food. So it's pretty crazy and then I guess I never knew that before I got into this space I always thought that a Walmart or Kroger or some of these big name brands. They hold their own food. Well, nine times out of ten they don't, they'll use a third party to handle a lot of their cold assets.
Carson: I'm not gonna name names either. But I know from personal experience that it's the same with restaurants. People have foods imported from restaurants. I knowbwhen I was younger I worked at a pizza restaurant and we had different organizations bringing food at different times throughout the week. So it's important because we've had those times where the FDA was bringing down our neck and no one wants that. So it's, that's just the importance and the benefits that asset tracking from Link Labs can provide. I'm gonna ask you both this and we've kind of already touched on this a lot. I'm gonna start with Emily, how would you say that Link Labs benefits the cold supply chain? Just as a broad question.
Emily: I think one of the most important things that we provide is temperature monitoring and reporting. These are such important things, temperature monitoring so that you know if there's something that goes wrong so you can fix the problem before it becomes a really big issue, you can take those proper steps, you can't always control the unexpected. But if you can get an alert that the temperature is falling out of range, then you can do something about it and you can have those reports if anything happens. And I think that's really important, especially with all these rules that the FDA has, so that you're remaining compliant and you're avoiding those massive fees.
Carson: Yeah, you can't control everything but it's great to prepare for everything. That's a great summary of that. Carlos, What do you think?
Carlos: So for me, I would say that, we fill in the gaps where Telematics kind of either falls short or is too costly. So, and I say that because, I've had multiple meetings with customers that already have a Telematic solution on a trailer, but here's the thing is when they're disconnected, they lose visibility. So that's where Link Labs comes in and kind of fills that gap to give you that 24/7 coverage. If you want to know all the time, 24/7, where an asset is or just once a day. Telematics doesn't really do that if it's not powered or if it's not a plug-in or has a solar panel, which can be really costly. That's where our solution comes in and fills in the gap with that. So they're double protected if you have expensive assets or a flatbed trailer. I was down in Texas a couple of weeks back, I think, maybe a month ago now. And, we're in the middle of nowhere and, I saw the Telematics unit and I had asked him, hey, what, why are you putting our Link Labs solution on there? He's like, well, this thing is unplugged 90% of the time. He's like, it's unplugged. It's away from the Telematics unit. It's not plugged into a truck, so I have no power. So, for us, they're on these long four or five year job sites when they're building and using their big turbines. So for them, they wanted that, that total visibility all the time, every day. They're like, I want to know where this thing is every single day. So that's why, that's why it made sense. They've got $14 million trailers. They, they need to know where those assets are and when they're in use, when they're not in use we've been doing a lot of testing with them on, on some of their generators on if it's gonna affect the tag and we've passed most of these tests so far. So we're really excited about the direction that we are in and the technology that we have our hands on, it's simple. Simple sells, simple is easy to deploy and the reliability of the tag is second to none. So, I've seen a lot of these, these assets and people either, either over promise and under deliver or they just, they just flat out, don't perform and we don't have that issue here. It's fun to be a part of a company that has it figured out. They've got the battery life figured out, the technology does what it says it's supposed to do. And we've got a lot of smart people on the back end that make all that stuff happen. So we're really excited about the product that we're launching in this logistics field.
Carson: I'm excited too. If you listeners want to learn more about cold chain compliance, visit our website or reach out to Carlos, Emily, or myself for more information. I know on episode two, Carlos we gave our listeners a few ways that they could reach out to you. Emily, could you tell our listeners a few ways that they could reach out if they have any compliance concerns?
Emily: The best way to reach me is on LinkedIn. Just Emily Saldivar. If you search me, I should pop up.
Carson: Thank you for listening to our episode this week. Link Labs is a leading innovator in all things, Internet of things. Link Labs offers an asset tracking solution that uses technology to improve companies' efficiencies. If you wanna learn more about Link Labs and asset tracking and all the many benefits that we can provide to your company, visit our website at www.link-labs.com and be sure to follow us on all of our social media platforms at Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, subscribe to our YouTube channel and of course, subscribe to this podcast for more episodes to come in the future. We look forward to seeing you next time and as always, thank you so much for listening in.