Innovator Spotlight: Tan90 Solutions
It was in our third year of our PhD journey when the entrepreneurial bug bit us. Cold chain in India is highly unorganized, particularly in the procurement and the tertiary segments. Several players provide their service, which is primarily focused on the tertiary segment, leaving the most crucial segment: the procurement chain.
Our solution is primarily aimed at organizing cold chain in the primary and the tertiary segment of the food chain. It is essential to bridge the inefficiencies in the primary (procurement) segment as it is the rate limiting factor in the entire value chain. The primary chain is plagued with challenges and coming up with a solution that checks all boxes is tough.
We started to work on modular storgaes powered by vapour compression units which did not meet the field requirements given the way, the storages were handled at the procurement chain. We pivoted to a product design powered by solid state thermoelectric cooling systems. Given their poor efficiency, and their dependence on an external power source did not mitigate the risks associated with the rough usage at the procurement chain. We then moved to phase change materials and developed our own formula with better thermal characteristics to meet the needs of our users at the procurement and the tertiary segments of the supply chain.
One such client was an organic farmer who needs to transport milk from his farm to Mysore which takes about 5 hours. In his farm, electricity comes in tranches in a day, with the longest tranche being 7 hours. Hence, he was not being able to use gel packs, because conventional gel packs take 14-15 hours to freeze. Ice was not a sustainable solution to him due to the high operational costs involved. Due to an in-efficient cold chain, he would lose 5 litres of milk in transit per 50 liters transported to spoilage.
We saw a perfect product-market fit and helped him with our product. With a shorter charging time, our thermal batteries could hold the temperature of the milk for the entire duration of transit and the spoilage was reduced to zero.
This particular result is very close to our heart, as it fits perfectly with our vision which is to enable cold chain in the primary procurement section where it is needed the most.
In addition to this, we have done successful pilots with Government bodies (Dairy co-operative sector of the Government of Tamil Nadu, Department of Horticulture, and Government of Tamil Nadu) and private organizations, alike. Given the freedom to move their perishables with any logistics service available, there has been a savings of 32% in the operational costs involved.
The entire food value chain can be divided in three segments: primary, secondary and tertiary. For agri-corporates, reefer trucks mostly take care of the secondary segment. Jugaad innovations (ice in ice box) took care of the rest two segments. Ice boxes are not a sustainable solution in either of the two value chains.
We are working with farm to fork organizations and are channelizing the products to the farmers through them. Dairy industry is an example of a market in which the price the product can be marked up several notches by processing them. Most of such processed foods require temperature control. Through our solutions, we can enable cold logistics of such value-added goods in the tertiary segment, primarily in up-country locations, i.e., from their regional warehouse to the last mile. On the procurement side, we are working with private milk aggregators and enabling them to transport chilled milk.
The team is well balanced with three PhDs from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Soumalya Mukherjee: He completed his PhD from IIT Madras on enzyme free cost effective and robust biosensors. Before joining IIT Madras, he worked as a pre-doctoral researcher at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He pursued his bachelors from the National Institute of Technology, in the discipline of Biotechnology. He overlooks the business development of Tan90.
Shiv Sharma: He did his undergraduate from Annamalai University. Following this, he obtained his Masters in mechanical engineering from NERIST, Arunachal Pradesh. He is a gold medallist in CIMA and is pursuing his doctoral study in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Madras. With his extensive experience in machine designing, he oversees the operations of Tan90.
Rajanikant Rai: After obtaining his Masters in Biotechnology, from IIT Guwahati, he is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in polymer synthesis from IIT Madras. With his expertise on chemical synthesis, he looks over the R&D and product development for Tan90.