Quite a number of businesses across the health, agriculture and even energy sector deal with products and goods that are temperature sensitive. Simply put, these items cannot just be left to the mercy of atmospheric changes. They require a particular temperature to remain useful till they get to the end-users.
Sadly, power has been a teething problem over the years and remains a challenge for businesses that deal with temperature-sensitive items. It is on this premise that Gricds Integrated services stepped into the business scene to solve this critical problem.
Oghenetega Lortim, CEO and founder of Gricds integrated services was a guest on the Nairametrics Business Half Hour where he talked about the technology behind the business.
“We are basically focused on providing Internet of Things (IOT) solutions that enable last-mile delivery of temperature-sensitive products such as vaccines, foods, and medications. We provide different kinds of technology to ensure that these things can be delivered,” he explained.
The startup first built a smart cold chain box that could help people, especially health personnel, keep temperature-sensitive commodities (like vaccines, blood) at regulated temperatures during storage and transportation. However, Gricds integrated service did not start with a focus on the health sector.
As an investor in agriculture, Lortim lost money due to storage challenges that smallhold farmers have to grapple with; he decided to solve the temperature challenge.
One of the early products was targeted at providing reliable transportation of vaccines to cattle in hinterland. They soon became aware that the health sector needed similar products for transportation of things like blood, insulin, chemotherapy medication, and this was the invitation they needed to usher Gricds into the healthcare sector.
The product which takes care of this challenge is a cold box that is solar-powered and equipped to combat Africa’s power challenge. The cold box can be used for the storage and transportation of vaccines, medication and other items.
It has a battery that can last up to 12 hours without power supply, and in the absence of power, can be connected to a solar panel or small inverter to get charged up. This is one of Gricds flagship products.
The second is a logger which fits into existing infrastructure and is used to detect and report temperature for businesses so that the owners can make the right business decisions based on the peculiarities of their environment.
He said, “The device is embedded with real-time storage temperature and location monitoring technology has a dedicated battery which lasts up to 48 hours. It can fit into existing infrastructure such as a warehouse, a cold truck or cold rooms, to detect what the conditions are and transmit so that you can also take real-time steps to curb losses and improve the storage of your product. This can help the poultry farmers to prevent great losses, and also provides for efficient storage of vaccines, blood and other health or agricultural products.”
Gricds recently provided this service in tracking the delivery of 4.2 million doses of the Moderna vaccines across the 36 states in Nigeria. With services like this, healthcare businesses involved in the distribution of chemotherapy medications, insulin have less to worry about.
Creating products such as these required both a combination of software and hardware from within and outside the country, and capital is of course required. Gricds started with bootstrapping, but not for long.
Because its goals and visions resonated with a lot of people and institutions, the company has been able to attract funding in different forms. There have been grants as well. With this, the team was able to build a viable solution and launch out.
The company also emerged as the best innovator at the 2019 Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF) disrupt 2019 conference, tagged; ‘Digital Gold Rush: Building A Sustainable Tech Economy’, organised by Access bank. With this, they bagged the coveted prize of $10,000 funds to inject into the business.
Gricds has also recently taken a direction towards working with the insurance sector. With lots of small and medium-scale farmers starting to embrace insurance to compensate for the heavy challenges and losses they sometimes incur, which is sometimes as high as 40%. To this end, the insurance companies are now sourcing accurate data and technology for their clients, to help them better underwrite risks. Gricds is working with them to provide the IOT technology and communicate the location, temperature, moisture, formation, ammonia level and so on.
Although the market for this product is really wide, Gricds is focusing on the agricultural, healthcare and now insurance sector, to help business owners who are tired of the losses they incur over-temperature issues. Gricds is also working with extension organisations and putting together affordable micro packages in a rent, outright purchase, or lease-to-buy model that lessens the financial burdens for them.
“We try to build the products to be autonomous so power is not a challenge. Our sensors, for instance, can work independently of power for three years. When it’s done, you pull out the batteries and put a new set of batteries. The cold boxes are entirely autonomous and have a battery pack that powers them. We understand that there is an epileptic power supply in our main market which is Nigeria so, it is easier to adopt our technology so that irrespective of the availability of power or not, businesses can still go on especially in hinterlands,” he said.
With the temperature challenge solved and losses minimised, we can look forward to the entry of more players into the agricultural sector and the reduction of food insecurity.