An effective cold chain can keep perishable goods like fresh produce, medicine, dairy, meat, and baked goods fresh throughout the supply chain, so they can arrive at their destinations in good condition and ready for use. Your cold chain consists of all the equipment and resources that go into keeping your goods chilled or frozen throughout transit.
Maintaining a cold chain is a complex proposition, involving refrigerated trucks, railcars, and containers, temperature monitoring, and regulatory adherence. Allowing your perishables to warm up even a couple of degrees above their ideal temperature could significantly reduce their shelf life or ruin them completely. Here’s what you need to do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Know Your Temperature Requirements
Cold chain technologies aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Different kinds of perishables require different temperatures. Some things need to be kept frozen while other things need to be kept chilled. It’s not just letting things get hot that you have to worry about – plenty of perishables will be ruined if they get too cold, too. Understanding your temperature requirements will help you organize your cold chain shipping, especially if you have different types of temperature-sensitive goods that require different temperature ranges to stay fresh.
Assess Your Resources
Demand for cold chain technologies is already high, and it’s getting higher as more and more perishable goods are shipped around the world. Cold chain transportation is expected to generate $142.6 billion by 2024. In order to secure the cold chain technologies you need for your shipments, you need to assess your access to resources.
Know what cold chain transportation assets are available to you. Not every carrier is equipped to handle both frozen and fresh perishables, for example. Facilities for cold storage may not be available in every geographic location. You may need to plan strategically to access the facilities and resources you need for cold chain shipping.
Use the Right Cold Chain Technologies
You need to use the right cold chain technologies to keep your perishables fresh in transit. You need refrigerated trucks and containers to keep items frozen or cold throughout shipping. Don’t stop looking for new solutions – the best cold chain technologies are innovative. Freeze indicators and warm indicators are just one of the many tools you can use to keep your cold chain items cold. You can implement GPS trackers to monitor the location of your cold chain shipments in real time, for example. Innovative packaging solutions can help you keep your perishables cold from end to end, even when they’re exposed to warm temperatures. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help you avoid warehouse accidents, manage your inventory, and keep your perishables safe by predicting mishaps before they happen.
Of course, you’ll also need to prioritize a careful maintenance schedule. The loss of a shipment can be devastating, and even ruinous for your business. Proper maintenance will ensure that your cold chain technologies function appropriately all of the time, and can help you prevent equipment failures that could stop your products from reaching their destination in good condition.
Comply with Relevant Regulations
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) sets standards for cold chain handling of perishable foods, with the goal of keeping fresh and frozen foods in edible condition throughout transit, so they can arrive in stores and restaurants ready to be eaten. Different regulations are in place for the cold chain handling of medications, vaccines, organs, and other pharmaceuticals and medical items.
To maintain a robust cold chain, it’s important that you know the regulations affecting your industry and follows them to a T. Organizations like the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the International Air Transport Association, and the Transportation Safety Administration may be involved in establishing regulations for the safe handling of perishables via cold chain shipping technologies. These regulations are designed to keep food and other perishables safe, protect consumers from food-borne illness, and ensure the safety and efficacy of medications, vaccines, and other medical products. Following them will not only keep you in compliance but will also keep your perishable goods safe for use.
Maintaining a strong cold chain is vital to keep your perishables fresh and in good condition as they move toward their destinations, so they can be safely consumed at the other end. Prioritize building a stronger cold chain, so you can keep pleasing your customers and operating a well-loved business.