What are the evolutions that you have witnessed in cold chain logistics sector over the past few years? What opportunities and challenges are envisaged for the coming years in the cold chain supply sector?
The cold chain ecosystem is constantly evolving and has steadily grown over the past few years as a result of enhanced focus from the Indian Government and industry. Over the next few years, increases in the organised retail sector, online grocery stores, quick service restaurant chains, as well as the government initiatives are trends that will drive cold chain growth. The provisions and guidelines concerning cold chain logistics infrastructure in the draft of National Logistics Policy by Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and the draft on Good Distribution Practices for Pharmaceutical products by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) are testaments to the paradigm shift in the evolution of the cold chain logistics industry. The major challenges to the development of the cold chain are limited infrastructure at the farm gate, a fragmented agriculture base and lack of awareness of the benefits of the cold chain on access to expanded segments.
Carrier Transicold India has been an industry leader for more than two decades and provides customers with the most advanced, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable, direct drive units, diesel-truck units for road transport applications as well as multi-modal and trailer refrigeration systems for sea and rail logistics. Contrary to the other large geographies, India has been greatly dependent on road transportation for cold chain activities. The Golden Quadrilateral Freight Corridor, as well as the Sagarmala project, have provided an excellent platform to exponentially boost the cold chain supply in India, thus, enabling faster deliveries and leading to greater value realisation for the goods producer.
What are the major infrastructure components that need to be developed for effective integration of the cold chain sector?
A cold chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Cold storages, pack houses, pre-coolers and reefer vans are important links in the cold chain. The National Center for Cold Chain Development estimates that the largest gap is at the farm gate of approximately 70,000 pack houses, which also include pre-cooling facilities and around 53,000 reefer vans or trucks for agri-cold chain logistics.
Carrier Transicold India is a part of the CII Task Force on cold chain development as well as a life member of the National Center for Cold Chain Development, and has continuously over the years undertaken initiatives to establish a robust cold chain in India.
What are the gaps in the cold chain system that need to be bridged? What steps is Carrier taking to overcome challenges, such as lack of cold chain logistics infrastructure, low awareness of labour in handling temperature sensitive products etc.?
Agriculture is one of the main drivers of the country’s economic growth. It ranks high in production and is moving from a supply driven to a market-driven segment.
An efficient post-harvest management and agri-logistics system including aggregation, pre-conditioning, pre-cooling and refrigerated transportation not only helps to reduce food loss but also aids in expanding the reach to distant markets. The extension in holding life using controlled atmosphere cold storage also overcomes price fluctuations based on seasonality. A well-established cold chain can play a crucial role in enhancing the economic returns to farmers, and thus, has been a focus area in the recommendations for the government initiative on doubling farmers’ income.
The majority of Indian farms are small and are not in a position to invest directly in infrastructure or transact at wholesale markets.
The recent announcement by the government for upgradation of existing 22,000 rural haats to Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) will advance development of physical infrastructure. These GrAMs will be electronically linked and will allow farmers to make direct sales to consumers and bulk purchasers.
The government has also approved a Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA) with a focus to create modern infrastructure with an efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet. Such initiatives would help to create employment opportunities and reduce agri wastage.
Carrier Transicold India believes there is huge opportunity to reduce food loss and improve food distribution by implementing existing cold chain technology. With a focus on the agri-logistics sector, we are working closely with several stakeholders to help plug the identified gaps by offering Carrier cold chain solutions, such as availability of reefer trucks in remote areas where cultivation or harvesting takes place. These infrastructure interventions have helped our customers achieve better returns over their investments and have benefitted farmers, traders and transporters. Carrier participates in various sessions and panel discussions at forums pertaining to cold chain logistics as well as also provides education and training on optimum unit utilisation, good distribution practices and material handling to corporate staff, material handlers or pickers and truck drivers as part of ongoing efforts to educate and train cold chain stakeholders.
To change the perception that the cold chain is complicated and too expensive for small-holder farms, we recently conducted a demonstration on the impact of the cold chain on kinnow fruit from Punjab. The study measured the effects of cold storage and refrigerated transport from Abohar to Bangalore, a roughly 2,500 km (1,600 mi) overland journey that is a four to five-day drive by truck.
The study demonstrated that investment in refrigeration pre-cooling equipment and refrigerated trucks can reduce food loss by 76 per cent while increasing profit margins up to 23 per cent. As a result, the kinnow selling season was extended by one month, the selling region was expanded 2,500 km from Punjab to Bangalore, and carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions from wasted food were reduced by 16 per cent. Further, impact of the pilot has been in the second year, with more than 80 refrigerated ocean containers of the fruit shipped during the selling season including exports to Dubai, Russia and Bangladesh, and around 350 refrigerated truck trips were made – up from zero, just two years ago. The cost per tonnage of refrigerated goods could also be reduced by using multi modal or rail reefers.
Indian road and transport conditions need creative solutions. How do you handle those?
Carrier Transicold over the past few years has launched several India specific products or solutions in the Indian segment. For last mile distribution using refrigerated small vans, Carrier Transicold introduced several models of the Citimax series for chilled and frozen applications, which operate using the van engine, much like a car air-conditioning system. The Citifresh system designed to carry fresh produce was also introduced recently to meet the growing demand in India for transportation of fruits, vegetables, dairy and confectionary products using longer refrigerated trucks.
To cater to the demand of higher capacity and airflow on larger container sizes, Carrier Transicold launched the high capacity Supra diesel drive range.
Carrier Transicold India has introduced advance telematics solutions for diesel drive truck and trailer units. These systems empower customers to remotely monitor and control refrigeration units, and help them track their consignments with a strict watch over temperature integrity. This has helped them track and reduce theft, secure and control the number of door openings, and optimise time for loading or unloading. The smart features such as alerts and alarms, geo-fencing and geo-tracking have helped our customers greatly improve their delivery timelines.
Carrier Transicold continuously works with its stakeholders to understand the evolving market requirements and introduces solutions to meet the same. Our strength lies in adapting products to suit Indian conditions, engineering them as per requirement and supporting them with our after sales team.
What technological innovations do you want to incorporate for achieving a more optimised, cost-effective temperature-controlled supply chain?
Cargo safety, efficiency and reliable temperature control are key to effective cold chain transportation. Carrier equipment offers superior technology, advance control, remote monitoring, safety devices and automation. The various cooling, heating and defrost cycles are controlled through an advanced microprocessor-based controller with other features such as sleek design, self–diagnosis, error alarms, high customisation. Carrier Transicold is committed to providing efficient cold chain solutions around the world by offering sophisticated equipment, engineered applications, sharing vast experience and offering access to global best practices. In line with our initiatives for introducing environmentally sustainable products, Carrier Transicold introduced the Pulsor refrigeration unit for Light Commercial Vehicles, featuring E-Drive all electric technology.
The Supra and Oasis offerings for large trucks comes with their own engines and can run independently of a truck engine. This product range is specially designed for hot desert and tropical conditions. All of these products are designed to provide strong, reliable performance in hot, dusty ambient conditions and offer superior pull down and cooling efficiency.
Carrier Transicold’s innovations also include the NaturaLINE container refrigeration unit for marine transport, the first in the industry to use R-744 natural refrigerant carbon dioxide (CO2). In Europe, Carrier Transicold is conducting demonstrations of a trailer refrigeration unit using CO2 refrigerant, the first of its kind for road transport, with several supermarket chains.
Carrier Transicold also recently introduced a new generation of engineless transport refrigeration technology, harnessing the hydro-electric power generated by a truck’s engine to reduce emissions and maintenance costs, and help to improve fuel efficiency. These units add a new dimension to Carrier’s range of products and help fleet operators meet their efficiency and sustainability goals, and achieve a sustainable cold chain.
When mounted to a commercial vehicle, the ECO-DRIVE GenSet is driven by a hydro- pump connected to the truck’s power take-off (PTO) motor. The hydraulic system drives a generator that delivers electrical power to the host Carrier Transicold unit, without any requirement for the refrigeration unit to use its own diesel engine. Integrated into the hydraulic system is a control unit that ensures the generator consistently runs the same number of revolutions. This maintains constant power, even when the truck is idling in heavy traffic, eliminating any need for the driver to rev the truck’s engine to provide sufficient cooling power.
The key to success in the cold chain business in India is the creation of technology-based, tailor-made solutions that address the unique challenges that exist across the cold chain. The concept of ‘one size fits all’ does not work for the Indian landscape, which means innovation and reliability are essential for meeting the diverse demands of the cold chain in this environment.