Cold chain logistics is the process of maintaining a temperature-controlled supply chain in which refrigerated products maintain a specified temperature from production to storage, distribution and use. It involves several technologies and processes and is of vital importance to such products as food, photographic film, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. There are currently several technologies in development that have the potential to make the cold chain even more efficient. For example, MyCol, a Slovenia-based, start-up specialising in chromogenic materials, is developing irreversible, temperature-sensitive printing inks. Applied to an individual product’s packaging, a change of temperature causes the ink to change colour. This allows those involved in the cold chain to monitor individual products in real time. “Our product is essentially a smart label containing temperature-sensitive chromogenic material that changes colour based on a pre-defined temperature threshold,” says Marta Klanjšek Gunde, MyCol director. “These changes can be seen by the naked eye or registered by a video camera, thus eliminating the need for complex, and expensive, electronic monitoring systems or IT networks.” With support from the EU through the T-Sense project, MyCol conducted an in-depth feasibility study and market analysis. As a result, its innovative temperature sensitive printing inks are a big step closer to disrupting the cold chain logistics sector.
Taking the market by storm
The key aim of the T-Sense project was to analyse MyCol’s core cold chain technologies: the reversible and irreversible temperature indicators and a time-temperature indicator. To do so, the team researched the products’ technological feasibility and market viability. Other activities involved developing a commercialisation strategy, finding potential market niches, projecting business models, identifying potential risks and mitigation procedures, and implementing an intellectual property protocol. “This work confirmed that we have excellent, highly marketable solutions,” explains Gunde. “Now we have a clear roadmap for securing patents, strengthening our business model, scaling our production capabilities, and, ultimately, taking the market by storm.”
Very wide applicability
According to Gunde, thanks to the T-Sense project, the company identified a number of use scenarios of which they were previously unaware. For example, they realised that the irreversible temperature indicators could be used for consecutive activation, providing transparency as to where in the supply chain a temperature infraction happens. “We discovered that our solutions are widely applicable and can be marketed to many more industries than we had originally planned,” says Gunde. “Because of the T-Sense project, we are now well-positioned to gain an even bigger market share and increase our revenues exponentially.” Although the project is now finished, work continues. To help develop market-ready products, MyCol is currently applying for an EIC Accelerator grant. “Going forward, we will leverage not only the feasibility study and market analysis, but also the knowledge, skills and network gained during the course of the T-Sense project,” adds Gunde.
T-Sense, MyCol, cold chain logistics, supply chain, refrigerated, chromogenic materials