| Written by Mark Buzinkay

Dependable systems for monitoring temperatures in cold chains are critical for maintaining the integrity and adherence to regulations of cold chain elements, both during storage and while they are being transported to their final destination. In this whitepaper, we delve into the technologies behind mobile reefer tracking.
Reefer Tracking for mobile monitoring

No video selected

Select a video type in the sidebar.

The assortment of telematics devices for monitoring cold chains encompasses both sensor-based monitoring and cellular and/or GNSS tracking. This ensures that essential items are constantly monitored and maintained in safe conditions throughout their journey. Devices that are ready for integration are tailored to cater to the specific requirements of your business. They range from tracking temperature, humidity, and moisture to tracing assets both indoors and outdoors, providing comprehensive fleet management, including driver behaviour analysis, and offering anti-theft solutions that enable real-time tracking for the recovery of assets.


Top Four Advantages of Adopting Wireless Technology

For managers of reefer fleets looking to enhance their operations with sensor-based technology, one initial decision involves choosing between wired and wireless options. Despite the advantages and disadvantages of both, the future seems to be leaning towards wireless temperature sensors, backed by advancing technology. Below are four key reasons why opting for wireless temperature sensors might be the ideal choice for your reefer fleet.

Cost-Effective Installation

A primary advantage of wireless sensors is their ease and cost-effectiveness of installation, unlike the wired alternatives that are labour-intensive and costly, requiring extensive wiring and conduit construction. This is especially beneficial for large fleets with numerous assets.

Broader Application Compatibility

In certain scenarios, wired sensors may not be feasible. For example, it's impractical to install wired sensors on leased trailers as they are not owned by the fleet. This limitation hinders the collection of valuable data. In contrast, wireless sensors can be installed in almost any setting, allowing fleet managers to integrate smart technology into their operations, regardless of the scenario.

Simplified Deployment and Expansion

Wireless sensors offer excellent scalability and flexibility. Fleet managers can easily relocate them from one vehicle to another as needed, making them an optimal choice for extensive fleet operations. This flexibility is crucial for fleet managers: they can reuse wireless sensors without the need to move the existing wired setup.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Generally, products with fewer components require less maintenance. Wireless sensors, lacking the complex wiring infrastructure susceptible to damage during regular use, demand less upkeep. This not only saves time and money for fleet managers but also lowers the risk of sensor malfunction - leading to ineffective data gathering and preventable temperature-related issues.

Reefers offer the possibility to access sensor data through the unit's controller. Therefore, it is not necessary to deploy any additional sensors within the container or shipment.

Reefer Tracking why Wireless?


Maximizing Returns on Investment in Mobile Reefer Tracking

Setting annual budgets leads to tough choices about where to allocate funds. Whether your fleet includes a few or thousands of reefers, seeing tangible returns on investment is essential. For many, the use of telematics in reefers has yielded significant benefits. This technology extends beyond mere tracking, enhancing areas such as maintenance efficiency, driver performance, and procurement strategy. Typically, supply chain professionals are experiencing the following benefits of refrigerated container telematics:

Enhancing Operational Insight

Gaining remote insight into the whereabouts of assets can save fleets substantial time, effort, and finances. Knowing the status and location of refrigerated containers enhances their use, while access to their positional data is crucial for optimal asset placement. Additionally, the ability to remotely monitor power, temperature, and O2/CO2 levels through telematics significantly boosts fleet management effectiveness and can lead to a reduced need for staff. The immediate notification of any deviations in asset conditions through 24/7 alarms is another key advantage.

Minimizing Cargo Claims

Advanced technology enables fleets to track reefer cargo conditions in real-time during transit. The Reefer Runner 5G platform utilizes IoT devices, reefer microcontrollers and sensors to notify customers of critical occurrences. This includes keeping tabs on temperature fluctuations, detecting extended periods without power during transfer processes, preventing unauthorized access to containers, and more.

Pre-emptively correcting temperature settings before containers depart can prevent cargo spoilage, thereby decreasing claim frequencies. This can lead to reduced staff needed in claims departments, reduced insurance claims impacting profits, and enhanced fleet reputation for secure cargo transport, potentially opening new business avenues.

Consolidating Data Sources

While refrigerated container telematics alone offers valuable data for fleet owners to leverage in gaining business, integrating this information with other systems can be even more advantageous. Achieving full visibility across the supply chain necessitates seamless communication between all involved systems for efficient transitions during transit. The Reefer Runner 5G platform allows integration with other data sources via APIs.

Benchmarking Equipment Efficacy

Data support in procurement decisions can yield long-term savings for fleets. Comparing the frequency of alarms or critical incidents triggered by a specific reefer container model against others in the fleet is vital. Analyzing this data prior to purchase decisions can reduce the number of containers awaiting maintenance, enhance overall asset uptime, and prolong equipment life.

Maximizing Every Investment

Leveraging data to bolster your financial standing is crucial in realizing the full potential of refrigerated container telematics. These insights drawn from intelligent reefer containers can uncover new areas of value within your organization, facilitating business growth even in challenging external conditions.

Enhancing Customer Relations

Implementing telematics in refrigerated containers can make fleet services more appealing to maritime clients like shippers and cargo owners. Precise delivery estimates foster trust, securing future business and enhancing customer satisfaction. Furthermore, location data allows for intelligent cargo rerouting based on time and conditions, a valuable feature for perishable goods. In an increasingly demanding era of rapid delivery, offering clients a comprehensive history of their cargo’s journey is vital. This level of service can be a key differentiating factor for fleets aiming to expand their clientele.

Reefer Tracking Better ROI


Reefer Tracking: Connectivity and sensor technology

Mobile roaming in IoT applications is primarily centred around two scenarios:

  1. IoT gadgets like tracking modules attached to containers, pallets, or packages being transported in trucks or trains across international borders.
  2. Device manufacturers embed SIM cards into their products for global distribution.

This brings up the critical question of choosing the appropriate wireless technology, which essentially boils down to determining the quantity and frequency of data transmission. Consider the example of monitoring goods in transit across Europe using GPS. These modules can be equipped with various sensors. A shock sensor, for instance, could detect a pallet accidentally dropped from a forklift. A temperature sensor might be used to monitor the thermal conditions of goods in transit, especially to detect if they stray from their ideal temperature range due to a malfunctioning cooling system. Even with data being sent to logistics operators only once per day, the cumulative data can be substantial. LTE-M is highly suitable for transmitting cold chain tracking data. As a relatively modern cellular standard, LTE-M offers adequate bandwidth for moderate data quantities, cost-effective hardware for widespread usage, and substantial battery longevity for extended transport distances. Thanks to international roaming capabilities, LTE-M ensures seamless cross-border mobility, which is crucial for logistics companies. 


Reefer Tracking: NB-IoT for Minimal Data Transmission

Another scenario involves applications like water consumption monitoring through meters, where NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) is the preferred technology. NB-IoT, also a recent development, is designed specifically for transmitting small data packets at extended intervals. The simplicity of NB-IoT modules makes them extremely energy-efficient, allowing them to operate for years on a standard battery without needing external power sources. International roaming further enhances the usability of these modules globally.

NB-IoT was specifically developed for stationary low-power sensors. It operates as a narrowband radio technology, utilizing a transmission bandwidth of 180 to 200 kHz, and consumes significantly less energy than traditional GSM, UMTS, or LTE standards.

NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M (LTE Cat M1) are part of the Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) group, perfectly suited for applications with minimal data requirements. Their low energy consumption combined with extensive coverage and range makes them standout technologies. NB-IoT offers reduced latency but is not optimal for real-time data transmission.

Mobile Tech for Reefer Tracking


Understanding LTE-M

LTE-M (or LTE Cat M1) marries the benefits of both LTE and NB-IoT technologies. It supports connected mobility, maintaining network connection even as the device moves through different mobile cells. Contrarily, NB-IoT is more fitting for stationary applications, as it requires reconnection each time it transitions between mobile cells. LTE-M is particularly well-suited for scenarios that NB-IoT cannot optimally support. This includes applications in wearables, e-health, or smart tracking, where LTE-M's capabilities shine.



In the specialized field of mobile monitoring for cold chains, the technologies of NB-IoT and LTE-M stand out as the preferred solutions for tracking reefers. These technologies play a crucial role in upholding the integrity and regulatory compliance of cold chain elements throughout their storage and transit phases. NB-IoT and LTE-M are particularly advantageous in reefer tracking due to their ability to enhance operational efficiency and reduce associated costs.

Wireless sensors, especially those connected by NB-IoT and LTE-M, facilitate cost-effective installation and necessitate lower maintenance, a key factor for extensive reefer fleets. This aspect is coupled with their ability to provide broad application compatibility. Furthermore, the scalability and ease of deployment inherent in NB-IoT and LTE-M sensors make them ideal for dynamic fleet operations, allowing seamless transfer of sensors between different containers and vehicles as required. By leveraging data from these advanced telematics, fleet managers can make more informed decisions, leading to long-term savings and enhanced operational efficiency. This includes better asset utilization, reduced cargo claims due to improved monitoring of conditions in transit, and the integration of data across the supply chain for comprehensive visibility.

Mobile Reefer Tracking and Monitoring

Delve deeper into one of our core topics: Cold chain monitoring