IoT Preserves Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines

Bosch is implementing an Internet of Things solution that tracks the conditions of cold chain loads in real time, from the point of manufacture to the point of use.
Published: May 17, 2021

The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is critical, as are production and packaging. Providing the correct logistics and respecting the time and temperatures required for all vaccines, each with its own individual characteristics, ensures that the cold chain maintains the drugs’ properties and efficacies.  Bosch Service Solutions‘ Division for Technologies and Services is making its Intelligent Cold Chain Monitoring solution available for vaccine management. The system tracks cargo conditions in real time during logistics processes, from the point of manufacture to the point of use.

The technology has been available in Brazil since the beginning of 2020, and it meets the new regulations of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), which establishes requirements on good practices for the distribution, storage and transport of medicines. Based on the Internet of Things (IoT) concept, the technology includes sensors that are installed and programmed in order to transmit data to a gateway, which then sends the collected parameters to the cloud. With this data, an intelligent platform shows real-time information to those responsible for central monitoring and operational control.

Alexandre Boldrin Ferreira

Alexandre Boldrin Ferreira, an executive with the Bosch Service Solutions division, says the solution is based on three pillars: sensors, software and services. “The sensors are installed in strategic locations inside a vehicle and are connected to an intermediate device called a gateway, which sends the collected data in real time to the cloud,” Ferreira says. “With the data generated, an intelligent platform processes and crosses the variables and transforms them into important graphs and indicators so that agents for central monitoring and operational control, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, can execute protocols interventions previously aligned with each client.”

Thus, Ferreira says, agents can fully monitor each process and its variables, allowing decisions to be made quickly in the face of any indications of irregular events, such as variations in temperature and humidity, unplanned stops, a change of routes, excessive time for boarding or disembarking, and so forth. “It is also worth noting that the standard of security and data protection is extremely high,” he states, “and, therefore, all electronic records are stored safely and efficiently.”

In addition to temperature and humidity variables, the solution reveals situations and points of improvement that, on a daily basis, cause customer resources to be wasted. “In many cases,” Ferreira states, “we identified the performance of repetitive, non-standard tasks that involve many people and areas, consuming the time of professionals who could be allocated and concentrated in more strategic activities of the business.”

Customized analysis, delivered to each customer, can allow a review of processes and, consequently, provide cost reductions and increase productivity and competitiveness. The implementation provides three types of solution, according to Ferreira. Data loggers or recorders are devices installed in vehicles that perform the recording of temperature variables, but they depend on the execution of manual tasks by a customer, such as the installation and removal of each shipment.

The collected data needs to be downloaded and analyzed after delivery of the products. “This way,” Ferreira explains, “the customer will only have the information at a very late moment, because—depending on the criticality of the tour—the referred shipment may have been compromised.” The sensors that transmit the data involve a solution that allows temperature variables to be monitored by the customer through access to software. “In this case, although the solution is more efficient than ordinary loggers, the customer needs to internalize and carry out many inherent activities. In some cases, even hiring people exclusively for monitoring makes the process, as a whole, very expensive.”

Intelligent monitoring, on the other hand, is a service offered by Bosch and covers all stages of the process, Ferreira says. “Thus, the customer does not need to rely on budget, task allocation and dedicated people,” he adds, “since the process is coordinated by Bosch, including the management of the installation and calibrations, monitoring and management of alarms and protocols, in addition to the provision of intelligent reports that present to the customer the points of weakness of the processes and indicate improvements.”

According to Ferreira, the customer is exempt from costs and activities inherent in the monitoring process. “This gives you the possibility to focus your efforts and staff on more strategic and business-focused activities,” he says. “As a whole, there are many cost-reduction opportunities that the Bosch solution can provide to customers.” Companies are accustomed to more traditional models, he says, such as the use of a data logger and the incorporation of all inherent tasks. “In addition, due to the status quo, it is very common for companies to have some difficulty in comparing the available solutions based on the cost benefit that new technologies can offer.”

The Bosch monitoring system serves to detect changes in temperature when they are about to happen or are happening. This automates the process and allows intervention if irregular events occur, such as temperature and humidity excursions. Thus, it allows visibility of cargo conditions in real time, ensures product quality to the end, and reduces costs for those who lose a lot of high value-added merchandise during logistical processes due to such excursions. The Bosch solution can be integrated with a customer’s ERP system, through technical analysis and integration objectives.

Bosch Service Solutions works as a business division of the Bosch Group, which operates globally in the market for the development of complex solutions using the IoT in the areas of customer experience, mobility and monitoring services. It has been present in Brazil for more than 10 years and, in a global scope, it operates in 16 countries with 26 offices and around 10,000 employees serving more than a thousand external clients in 35 languages. Its main sectors of activity include the automotive, tourism, entertainment, transport and telecommunications industries, among others.