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About the Authors:
David Gearhart, CFA
Vice President
David Gearhart is a vice president specializing in research and investment in software-as-a-service (SaaS) and the Internet of Things sector and has played a key role in establishing First Analysis’s Internet of Things franchise. He is a thought leader in his sectors, having authored several widely read white papers. He uses his industry knowledge and expansive network to uncover promising investment opportunities and help companies navigate their strategic paths and accelerate growth. Prior to joining First Analysis in 2011, he was an accountant with The Northern Trust Co. and an options broker with American Option Services. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University with a concentration in economics and finance and his MBA at DePaul University with a focus on finance and entrepreneurship. He is a CFA charterholder.
Howard Smith
Managing Director
Howard Smith is a managing director (office of the president) specializing in research and investment in software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses and other business models based on information technology, particularly Internet of Things, cybersecurity, and internet infrastructure. He also built the firm’s historical research franchises in call centers and computer telephony. He is a thought leader in his sectors, having authored numerous widely read white papers. He uses his industry knowledge and expansive network to uncover promising investment opportunities and help companies navigate their strategic paths and accelerate growth. His work has been cited for excellence by the Wall Street Journal and other publications. Prior to joining First Analysis in 1994, he was a senior tax consultant with Arthur Andersen & Co. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a certified public accountant.
First Analysis Internet of Things Team
Howard Smith
Managing Director
David Gearhart
Vice President
Matthew Nicklin
Managing Director
First Analysis Quarterly Insights
Internet of Things
Pandemic threat, similar health risks likely to boost cold chain solutions
June 25, 2020
  • Wireless cold chain solutions, which use IoT technology to monitor, track and manage the temperature of perishable goods across their supply chains, represent a large and relatively underpenetrated market opportunity. But adoption of wireless cold chain solutions has lagged relative to other IoT solutions such as fleet telematics, perhaps due to a less technology-oriented target user base and more entrenched manual monitoring and management practices.
  • Frequent prominent food contamination events that have caused substantial damage to companies such as Chipotle (not to mention severe illness) are increasing the imperative to adopt wireless cold chain solutions. In addition to food, these solutions are also important for pharmaceuticals, and the enormous societal resources being invested in developing and delivering COVID-19 treatments and vaccines – which often involve temperature sensitivity – is likely to further drive wireless cold chain solution demand.
  • With the advent of COVID-19 and the general increased probability of pandemics in a world of frequent global travel, we foresee the wireless cold chain solution opportunity expanding to encompass monitoring the temperature of people themselves.
  • We highlight several public and privately held companies addressing these potentially high-growth opportunities.


Includes discussion of DGII, EMR, ORBC and seven private companies

Temperature monitoring an attractive area, crisis boosts adoption

Solutions likely to incorporate human temperature monitoring capabilities

More connected world, more complex supply chains drive need

IoT universe hits a pandemic low but sees strong rebound

M&A volume slows but size larger

Private placement activity continues to trend down, but average size consistent

Temperature monitoring an attractive area, crisis boosts adoption

One of the more intriguing areas within IoT is temperature monitoring, also known as cold chain solutions. These solutions use networked sensors and software to remotely monitor, record and manage the temperature of sensitive goods such as food and pharmaceuticals. We believe the total addressable market for wireless cold chain solutions, including hardware, network connectivity and software, is more than $3 billion in North America and four to five times that size globally, encompassing 1 million to 1.5 million North American sites and mobile assets in food service, education, retail, pharmacy, healthcare facilities, warehouses and transportation. We estimate the market is about 10% penetrated based on metrics from industry leaders Digi International, Orbcomm and others; the balance still relies on manual monitoring, typically pencil and paper.

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