Temperature extremes affect numerous industries, particularly those engaged in product logistics.
As products are shipped, industry and consumers can suffer when factors affecting the quality of those products range in the extremes. Temperature is one factor that San Francisco-based digital supply chain platform Chronicled is attempting to monitor in partnership with global security provider Identiv, by utilizing uTrust disposable temperature sensors.
On May 11, 2017, at the eleventh annual RFID Journal Live event’s awards ceremony, Identiv’s uTrust sensor won the “Best New Product” award. The disposable sensors were designed in tandem with the Chronicled App using near field communication (NFC) readers. Sam Radocchia, Co-founder and CPO of Chronicled, told ETHNews that Chronicled’s Smart Supply Chain Solution is comprised of Ethereum, Quorum, Hyperledger, mobile applications, and cloud services. The sensor's compatibility with smartphones eliminates costly data-logging measures. The application offers password protection and allows an administrator to grant access privileges for users to read and write data. Data modeling tools are also built into the application, so it can be applied to different products with different parameters.
Prior to the implementation of smartphone compatible innovations, sensor systems relied on manual input to track the temperature of products in storage or shipment. In some cases, that data was simply not collected at all. Large, sometimes difficult to operate sensors; inaccurate thermometers; and/or temperature sensitive color-coded stickers were the tools that industries relied on.
The lack of accurate telemetry creates a greater likelihood for spoilage from temperature extremes. Particularly susceptible to calefaction, humidity, and frigidity are pharmaceutical drugs. The varying quality of these drugs, be they prescription or over-the-counter, can be affected by the environments they are shipped and stored in. Drugs that are susceptible to degradation in temperature extremes can pose a danger to consumers when not properly maintained. Blockchain-based solutions offer a way to immutably track the changes in environment as drugs pass from manufacturer to pharmacy to consumer.
Radocchia told ETHNews that Chronicled is consolidating its strategy around smart supply chain solutions and that those solutions may influence policies as implemented. She said:
“As we've found already in the pharmaceutical industry, with regulations such as DSCSA [Drug Supply Chain Security Act] and industry need for compliance driving adoption of blockchain-based solutions, it would not be a far stretch to imagine the reverse: blockchain-based solutions driving regulation itself. We believe that industry adoption of blockchain-based solutions – whether that be for supply chain tracking, temperature data attestation, secure sealing, or beyond – is not merely a possibility, but an inevitability.”
The United States has federal guidelines governing warehousing procedures which specify "appropriate condition of temperature, humidity, and light" to preserve the "identity, strength, quality and purity of the drug products." However, the same guidelines provide more leniency on distribution, which means adding layers of transparency to environmental controls can pad consumers with another layer of protection.
Radocchia said Chronicled already has “three large pharmaceutical manufacturers on board” that have entered into agreements to install the uTrust sensors, and that Chronicled is “working on streamlining DSCSA compliance using the blockchain as well.”