Technology

5 Essential Elements of Shipping Along The Cold Chain

The Cold Chain

Temperature is the single most important concern when shipping time-temperature sensitive items along the supply chain. More colloquially known as a cold chain, shipping items that require refrigeration or maintaining certain temperatures is an essential service.  The cold chain isn’t just for shipping vaccines. It’s used for the food we consume every day, the medicine we need to stay healthy, beverages, chemicals, and even potentially life-saving biomedical material. Food, vaccines, and other cold items require strict packaging, shipping, and receiving protocol throughout the process. But everything has to begin with keeping your trucks maintained, having a robust shipping plan, and monitoring important aspects of your cold supply chain. Here are five Essential elements to look at when assessing your cold chain procedures.

Packaging

You can’t have transparency or resiliency without proper packaging. In logistics, there’s quite a bit of focus on the actual transportation, shipping/receiving aspects of the business. And that’s for good reason. But packaging can often be overlooked. Packaging is a critical part of the cold chain, because it helps protect food, medicine, and other perishables from damage. Inadequate packaging can lead to spoilage and loss of product. Proper packaging helps maintain the quality and freshness of goods during transport. Organizations need to be careful to select the right packaging for their cold chain products. Consider the type of product being transported, the ambient temperature range to which it’ll be exposed, and how long it’s going to be on the road. Rigid containers (like polyethylene boxes) can be ideal for shipping delicate items like vaccines or pharmaceuticals. Coolers are perfect for keeping perishables (fruits and vegetables, specifically) fresh during short trips. By understanding the importance of packaging you can ensure goods arrive at their destination safely and intact—without the dreaded specter of spoilage looming over the shipment.

Humidity

Mold. Mildew. Rust. Excessive cargo damage. All of these have one common cause: humidity and condensation. Humidity, when set to proper levels, can be a wonderful thing. But when it gets to be too much or too little, that’s when damage can occur. These occurrences can significantly damage a shipment, leading to possible replacements and lost revenue. Keeping humidity and condensation at Bay comes with thorough inspections and using proper tools. Humidity sensors work alongside temperature indicators to prevent humidity buildup, wow maintaining your refrigeration equipment is a surefire way to prevent condensation issues. Staying on top of possible environmental issues during shipments is key to better coaching management and preventing problems with humidity throughout the process.

Temperature

Perhaps the most important element of shipping anything across the cold supply chain is maintaining temperature. Companies put a lot of money, time, and effort into maintaining their refrigerated vehicles, keeping their fleet ready to go, providing temperature sensitive storage areas / warehouses, and certain protocols/compliance measures are being followed for every shipment. Keeping temperature at the proper levels throughout the entire process is crucial to ensuring the viability and quality of any products being shipped along the chain. After all, you wouldn’t want to buy food that’s been in time temperature abuse or pharmaceuticals that are no longer usable due to being at the wrong temp. Using a powerful time temperature indicator that can work across different temperature ranges will help you keep the proper temperature in the appropriate areas. When used in conjunction with other temperature monitoring tools and logs, time temperature indicators can be a great asset to your company.

Transportation

Cold chain transport is the process of transporting temperature-sensitive goods from one place to another. The idea behind having a robust, meticulously planned transport process is all for one reason: maintaining the quality and integrity of your temperature-sensitive goods. So, how do you go about doing that, anyway? Start by using the right transportation method. This might be air, ocean freight, rail, or the trucks we see on the roads every day. Monitoring temperature, humidity, and shocks are crucial but none of it matters if you aren’t also meticulously planning your shipping/transportation routes effectively. Therefore, you should also use reliable temperature monitoring systems, including time temperature indicators and other methods. Reliable temperature monitoring systems help ensure goods get to their destination in good shape and intact. You can leverage technology in other ways such as using real-time alerts and tracking technology to help keep an eye on what’s happening in transport. Many companies don’t take advantage of the technology available right now in supply chain design and logistics, so taking advantage of it for your own organization is a good idea to gain a competitive edge.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance

The final step of any shipping operation is quality assurance. As any successful thriving business will tell you, product quality is of the utmost importance. When you’re shipping things along the cold chain, this basic idea should be at the top of your mind. Data availability and visibility is critical here, as is ensuring your products meet your organization’s high standards. Products need to maintain their integrity across the entire chain and be inspected thoroughly and be inspected thoroughly. Ensuring temperature, humidity, condensation, and other factors are handled appropriately is only part of the process. Other quality assurance measures might include checking temperatures regularly using a log, verifying proper packaging is being used, and having a contingency plan in case of a power failure.  By taking these precautions, businesses can minimize any damage or spoilage risk due to temperature fluctuations or humidity levels. Quality should be a crucial vector for measuring your company success and ensuring it throughout your process will only set you up for a bright future.

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