Satellite networks to help control temperature and humidity on seafood shipments in Russia

Published on
July 23, 2020

Russian railway companies, Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary oversight body Rosselkhoznadzor, and producers of perishable foods have jointly started testing of a satellite-based temperature and humidity monitoring system that will assist in the transportation of perishable goods.

Data on the temperature of foods is taken by monitors inside containers shipping perishable goods. That data is then fed via satellite to an online system, which can be used to determine whether goods being shipped are maintaining proper temperatures.

The innovation is predicted to save producers up to RUB 100 million (USD 1.41 million, EUR 1.25 million) a year, according to calculations by the Association of Owners of Refrigerated Rolling Stock (AORRS). The savings will come from the reducing the need for inspections by Rosselkhoznadzor to ensure the quality of foods, particularly seafood.

Seafood, primarily frozen fish, has the longest transportation distance of all perishable foods being shipped in Russia by rail, due to the location of catch. Much of the country’s five million metric tons (MT) of annual catch is harvested in the Russian Far East, thousands of kilometers from the much more populated part of the country in the West. 

The first six-day test run by Eurosib Transport Systems, – a St. Petersburg-based railway company – took place in late June and early July, with refrigerated containers shipped from the city of Novosibirsk in West Siberia, to the city of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East. The containers, filled with meat, were equipped with censors monitoring the temperature and humidity level inside. All the data was then transferred directly to the state veterinary control system via the national satellite network GLONASS. 

Two more tests with some foods, including seafood, were scheduled for mid-July. 

The Association of Owners of Refrigerated Rolling Stock (AORRS) claimed that a few tests will be conducted throughout the summer of 2020. Further deliveries will also include different transport modes, not only the railways. 

A representative of the Russian Railways – the national monopoly in charge of running the railroad and locomotives – said the company possesses all technologies needed to ensure a smooth run of the cold supply chain. 

GLONASS Deputy CEO Alexandra Aronova was quoted by the Kommersant business paper as saying that the experiment will guarantee the high-quality of perishable foods across the whole supply chain. At the moment, retailers lose on average 25 percent of each delivery due to spoilage, she said.

“The new technology will lead to the level of discharge close to zero," Aronova said.

Eurosib-Transport Systems Technical Director Sergey Kondratenko agreed. That new competitive advantage is of great importance for the sector, whose share in fish transportation has been shrinking in recent years, he said.

“Control over temperature and the reduction of inspections will help us get cargo back to the railway from trucks,” Kondratenko said in a company press release. 

Photo courtesy of PriceM/Shutterstock 

Reporting from Saint Petersburg, Russia

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