How did you like that steak you had at the restaurant last weekend? Did your toddler get that measles vaccine? Do you love to wake up to the smell of fresh roses on the bedside table? Meat, vaccines, freshly-cut flowers, and more have one thing in common – they all require refrigerated transport to get to you in unspoiled or usable condition. This is where the concept of cold chain management comes into play.
As the name says, the cold chain is a logistics management process for products that require the refrigerated temperatures that customers demand. It’s a process since it involves performing a chain of tasks to prepare, store, and transport products along the cold supply chain. Failure to keep cold chain products cold will render them unusable, which leads to a wastage of the products. When cold products go bad, both the shipper and their client lose money. A successful cold chain ensures temperature-sensitive products are kept within optimal temperature ranges and maintain the desired states from start to finish. For example, ice cream must be kept frozen to preserve its shelf life. If temperatures go above the sub-zero ranges, the product will lose its solid state and it’ll no longer be considered to be unusable.
Suppliers of food and pharmaceutical products heavily rely on the cold chain to ensure shipment doesn’t become compromised before they reach the market. They always want to streamline their cold chain management yet that may not be their forte. Fortunately, they can always turn to dedicated shipping companies to ensure timely and efficient delivery of their shipment to consumers.
Outsourcing relieves food and pharmaceutical companies of the need to commit their resources to the management of their temperature-controlled supply chain. It also allows them to focus on the core of their business knowing that they have a reliable partner willing to maintain their cold chain and work around their schedule.
A cold chain is a supply chain that deals with perishable, temperature-sensitive goods (also called cool cargo) such as fresh produce, meat, dairy, seafood, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, flowers, wine, etc. Usually, a specific low-temperature range has to be maintained to ensure the quality and integrity of perishable goods, i.e., some groups of products have to be refrigerated, some must be frozen, while yet others require extreme conditions (a so-called ultralow chain or deep freeze). Failure to maintain the right temperature leads to product spoilage and, ultimately, financial losses. Cold chain logistics is a set of activities aimed at handling and transporting such items securely from the manufacturer or supplier to the consumer.
Overview of Cold-Chain Markets and Supply Chain Challenges
Categories of cold-chain products
|Category||Temperature requirement||Product Specification|
|Fresh Agricultural Products||0-20°C||Vegetables, Fruits, Meat, Poultry, Eggs, Aquatic products, Horticultural products|
|Frozen Processed Products||~-18°C (< -15°C)||Frozen foods, Poultry and other packaging cooked food, Ice cream, and Dairy products,|
Fast food RAW materials
|Biopharmaceutical Products||2-8°C||Vaccines, Antibiotics, Biological products, Food products|
Value Chain View of the Cold-Chain System
Analysis of the Supply Chain Structure
Author: Danish Mairaj, CISCOM, PMP