For many businesses, shipping is one of the most critical processes to sort out for effective operations and customer service processes. This area often isn’t as simple as it first seems, though, with many different shipping needs for different products and destinations. If you sell or purchase temperature-sensitive items, you may need to utilize cold chain processes at some point.
This variation of the standard supply chain setup involves the movement of refrigerated or frozen products. Here’s the lowdown on cold chain management that you may need to know for your venture.
What is Cold Chain Management, and How Does It Work?
Cold chain management is the term used to describe the logistics management process for temperature-sensitive, typically perishable goods, whether they’re in transit, storage, display, or in process. Many products must be kept at set refrigerated temperatures to maintain quality and remain safe. Organizations must carefully handle all the phases of the cold chain to make this happen, from preparation and storage to transport and unpacking and more.
Elements of logistical planning and management that are required to protect the integrity of these products and shipments include taking care of packaging, choosing smart transport routes, and timing movements well. Also important is ensuring visibility throughout the cold chain so that issues get noted ASAP if they occur.
Businesses can use strict processes in conjunction with technology and the tracking, analysis, and sharing of data at every point to increase product efficacy and safety. Failure to adequately manage the cold chain process can lead to product loss and spoilage and significant financial downsides in turn. A successful cold chain is achieved by maintaining a stable and unbroken chain of refrigerated manufacturing, production, packaging, storage, transportation, and distribution, and it works in much the same way for all goods.
Benefits of Cold Chain Management
There are many benefits to be enjoyed through using proper cold chain technologies to protect valuable materials, inventory, and the like. Of course, the main one is that you ensure the integrity, quality, and useability of items, whether they’re ones you need to use in your business or goods you sell to others. Effective cold chain management also helps to ensure that your customers are happy with what they receive and get items that arrive without being compromised by bacterial growth, textural changes, bruising, discoloration, or other problems.
Another benefit of cold chain management is that it reduces the risk of your organization making headlines due to a disaster of some type. You don’t want to get your brand in the news because unsafe items compromise the health of customers, contractors, personnel, the planet, or other stakeholders. Careful temperature control and monitoring ensure your organization meets regulatory standards and your own internal standards.
Another plus of setting up smart cold chain management is how it can help to reduce waste and loss. Companies don’t want to have to budget for the financial repercussions of ruined temperature-sensitive products, especially when they have tight margins to deal with. Plus, in this sustainability-driven time, it’s helpful for firms to carefully deal with and minimize business waste as much as possible.
Other reasons to set up proper cold chain management in your organization include improving efficiency and customer service and adhering to regulatory and compliance standards.
The Key Elements of the Cold Chain
To enact a functional cold chain process, you need to consider storage, packaging, tracking, and transportation. There’s also product management and security. Happily, tech tools and quality equipment can make all of these areas much easier and more affordable to handle.
When it comes to cold chain storage, businesses can take advantage of insulated containers, cold rooms and chillers, refrigerants, and specific fridges and freezers designed for cold chain management. Within warehouses and other locations, autonomous mobile robots, forklifts, and other tools help get goods moved and handled quickly, safely, and securely so they stay cold.
When temperature-sensitive goods leave storage facilities and require packing, there are things like cold chain parcel and pallet systems to utilize, not to mention gel packs and bottles, refrigerant bricks, and insulated containers and envelopes.
For tracking purposes, organizations have at their disposal such tools as temperature indicators and data loggers, while for transportation, there are specialized cold chain vehicles and containers, whether packages are shipped by road, sea, air, or other methods.
For optimum cold chain management, you need to understand how to identify and control the various areas of the shipping environment, choose smart packaging design, and minimize transportation times.
Types of Products that Utilize a Cold Chain Process
Different materials and products must be handled carefully to stay at the ideal temperature. Temperature-sensitive products that require cold chain management include:
- Vaccines and lab samples
- Perishable foods such as meat, seafood, frozen desserts, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, etc.
- Drinks such as some wine
- Many medical products and devices
- Diagnostic materials
- Some art and antiques
If you sell, use, or otherwise deal with any of the above, it’s vital to learn more about cold chain management and start implementing strategies to protect goods ASAP. This will then help you improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve your brand.