Temperature-sensitive products must be kept cold at every link of the cold chain. The chain has many components, including the following:
Contrary to popular belief, the cold chain doesn’t start when temperature-sensitive products leave a manufacturer’s premises. It starts with the storage of the products at a refrigerated facility. If manufacturers of cold chain products don’t have the storage equipment needed to keep their products cold, they’ll have to farm out their cold chain operations to a partner who can provide the equipment. Many 3PL companies offer warehouse facilities for the storage of cold chain products for some time, whether at an intermediary location for easy distribution to the local market or awaiting shipping to a distant market. Some common types of cold storage equipment and facilities include refrigerated containers, cold rooms, chillers, cold boxes, blast freezers, and vaccine carriers.
For temperature-controlled products to maintain their quality during shipment, they have to be packaged correctly. Proper packaging helps minimize the risk of product contamination but also ensures energy-efficient storage of products along the cold chain.
Suppliers of cold chain products may need to keep track of specific types of information about their shipment, depending on the type of products they manufacture. This information includes temperature ranges and other environmental parameters, such as humidity levels that can compromise the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo. Armed with this information, shippers can audit their supply chain processes to detect environments and activities that lead to inefficiencies.
Data logging is one of the technologies that can be used to make the management of the cold chain supply a lot easier. This technology helps ensure efficient cold chain monitoring of temperature-sensitive goods. It also helps with quality assurance since any quality issues can be addressed before it’s too late.
Data loggers can be wireless, standalone, web-based, or computer-based. Each option has unique features, pros, and cons that must be carefully reviewed before making a final decision. Consulting a service provider can help shippers identify the best data logging technology for their cold chain supply needs.
Cold transport involves the deployment of different transport solutions to move temperature-sensitive products from the point of storage to the consumer market. Cold chain products can be transported by road, rail, air, and/or sea. A variety of specialized transport vehicles and equipment, such as refrigerator vans, refrigerator trucks, and reefer containers are used to transport and keep shipment cold.
From a geographical viewpoint, the cold chain can be local, regional, or global. The cold chain is local when the point of harvest or production is close to the point of consumption. It’s regional when the point of production and point of use are in different regions of the same country. The cold chain turns global when products have to be moved overseas to reach consumers on the other side of the pond.
In the case of global cold chain supply, suppliers of temperature-sensitive products may need to clear with customs before they can be allowed to deliver shipments to foreign jurisdictions. A specialized cold chain service provider can handle customs paperwork to reduce shipping delays that may arise from failure to meet all the relevant international shipping requirements.
The cold chain involves moving temperature-controlled products along different points of the chain. This requires the use of material-handling equipment, such as shipping crates, boxes, and pallets, as well as conveyor belt systems. Without such equipment, shippers would take a lot of time to complete the delivery of cold chain products. This would make it difficult for them to make the fast deliveries needed to avoid loss of shipment.
Cold chain management may also involve the delivery of shipment according to the end-user consumers’ preferred methods for receiving cold deliveries.
Author: Danish Mairaj, CISCOM, PMP