IoT cold chain solutions market to reach €1.2 billion by 2026

BOSCH Divulgation
Sheila Zabeu -

September 24, 2022

IoT cold chains are heating up, but it’s not because of malfunction, but because of the speed of growth in the sector. According to Berg Insight, a research firm specialising in the Internet of Things (IoT) market, the number of devices tracking and monitoring cargo and refrigerated transport units, including trailers, intermodal containers, railcars, containers, crates and pallets, reached 4.1 million worldwide in 2021. With a compound annual growth rate of 17.4%, that number is expected to reach 9.2 million by 2026.

The total revenue of the cargo and reefer container tracking sector reached about €720 million in 2021. The share of this value related to software and services was 49.3%, with the remainder related to hardware. With a compound annual growth rate of 11.4%, the total value of this market is expected to reach €1.2 billion by 2026.

Berg Insight study
Source: Berg Insight

Cold chains are understood to be the flow of perishable foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and electronics that are normally sensitive to exposure to temperature variations as well as shock, vibration and tilting movements. These types of goods require transport in a temperature-controlled environment throughout the supply chain. According to the study, the global fleet of refrigerated trailers and intermodal containers totals more than 4.0 million units. The number of temperature-controlled rail freight cars and ULDs (Unit Load Device) in use worldwide, meanwhile, is in the tens of thousands.

Cold chain tracking and monitoring solutions provide real-time data on the location and general condition of cargo. Tracking devices can track the cargo transport units or the cargo itself and can be installed permanently or temporarily. There are devices on the market today with different form factors and technologies to meet varying demands.

Berg Insight estimates that shipments of remote tracking systems with communication capabilities via cellular or satellite networks for refrigerated cargo and cargo containers will have reached 2.4 million units worldwide by 2021. With a compound annual growth rate of 16.2%, this number is expected to reach 5.1 million by 2026.

“The logistics industry is undergoing a major transformation accelerated by the problems in supply chains following the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the industry is investing heavily in digital solutions to improve the visibility and security of these chains. Cold chain tracking solutions offer significant value to both shippers and suppliers, with data on the location and condition of cargo presented in real time,” says Martin Backman, Senior Analyst at Berg Insight.

According to the executive, the lack of up-to-date and relevant data is one of the main reasons for damaged cargo. This can end up generating great losses, since the products transported by cold chains, in general are of high value. “The year 2021 was spectacular for the cold chain traceability sector, and the future looks even brighter, as the industry is ready to invest in technology,” he concludes.

It’s not enough to be tech, it has to be sustainable too

Cold chain operators are also realising that it is not enough to be technological, they must also consider sustainability elements in their operations, such as energy use targets and ways of working with maximum efficiency.

Temperature controlled service provider United States Cold Storage (USCS) recently commented that sustainability is “achieved through state-of-the-art warehouse design and construction, use of environmentally friendly refrigeration technology and use of energy efficient materials and technologies”.

The company aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 1.5% in a year. Over the past five years, USCS says it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 12%, even as it has increased its cubic capacity by 31%.

Last year, another temperature-controlled storage and transportation company, Americold, was recognised by the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) for 203 of its facilities achieving energy excellence. The GCCA runs a programme to motivate cold storage operators to establish, maintain and improve their ‘cultures of energy conservation’. According to the institution, energy use in warehouses is the second highest in the cold storage sector, behind only labour.