Just as the Internet makes use of hardware to relay data via the best routes regardless of who owns the hardware, a new “Physical Internet” for the Cold Chain (aka Cold PI) initiative is being developed by Tippmann Innovation (Ti) and Georgia Tech’s Supply Chain and Logistics Institute and the Physical Internet Center.

The Cold PI initiative, which borrows on the analogy of Internet protocols, is expected to improve delivery times and efficiency in the cold chain. Cold PI is a cooperative, competitive (“coopetition”) model, which will require companies to drop their emphasis on optimizing the use of existing assets. Instead, the focus is to optimize for more efficient delivery of products using available assets, regardless of who owns them.

Much of this is being driven by companies racing to shed assets that no longer add value. Instead, competitors are collaborating with each other to become more efficient. The concept of coopetition is becoming more accepted as it has realized benefits in reducing costs, miles and carbon footprint.

Why this change in thinking in the cold chain? As it stands now, the cold chain is long, complex and highly fragmented, fraught with delays, distortions, differences and disputes—resulting in a high level of food waste. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, up to a third of products arrive at their final destination either compromised or adulterated, all attributed to a malfunctioning cold chain.

The Cold PI initiative is an area of study identified and developed by Georgia Tech’s professor, Benoit Montreuil. Nick Pacitti of Ti and David Sterling of Savills Studley are working with the Georgia Tech Team and several industry participants to educate all stakeholders in the cold chain abut Cold PI.