Five best practices to maintain your cold chain

“What many fail to realize is there is a difference between supply chain expertise and cold chain expertise. This is even more important if the commodities fall under the sanitary transportation ruling”

When transporting fresh produce, pharmaceuticals, floral, frozen foods, and other temperature sensitive products, speed to market is critical. Creating an efficient, effective cold chain starts when all key stakeholders—shippers, carriers, vendors, providers, etc.—understand the importance of these five best practices.

1) Work with temperature controlled consultants/specialists:

What many fail to realize is there is a difference between supply chain expertise and cold chain expertise. This is even more important if the commodities fall under the sanitary transportation ruling.

Trained and experienced temperature controlled specialists are better able to understand all the variables and regulations of a cold chain to keep freight secure from beginning to end. Shippers that have temperature sensitive shipments regularly and rely on these kinds of experts—whether as an internal resource or an external vendor—will find themselves far ahead of competitors that don’t.

2) Find the right coordinates:

Today’s global supply chains often require coordination across multiple types of transportation—road, ocean, air, and rail. Each option comes with unique factors to consider, and due to the sensitive nature of goods, the lowest price option or fastest option might not always make the most sense.

Remember, some products—like those with higher price points—can benefit from a more expensive, yet faster shipping option. Balance the pros, cons, and price of each transportation service for each shipment:Air Shipping, Ocean Shipping, Over the Road, Rail Shipping

3) Make clear expectations:

When all stakeholders have clear expectations set for their role, and can know what to expect from others they’re working with, risks are eliminated and problem resolution speeds up. No matter how mundane, bring every detail to the table—from acceptable temperature ranges and continuous temperature vs. cycle settings to proper seals, contingency plans, equipment expectations, along with processes for returns and rejections.

4) Set guideline during loading and unloading:

Moving products from one location to a trailer (and vice versa) can be the most critical and complex time in a cold chain. Beyond maintaining the temperature of the truck and warehouse, it’s important to also consider the temperature of the loading dock, outdoor weather conditions, and even the time it takes to load and unload items. Specific areas to review include: a) Confirming product temperature prior to loading. b) Inspecting condition of equipment prior to loading c) Checking for proper container air flow during and after loading

5) Financial management is must:

Just like the rest of the world, technology in the temperature controlled space is rapidly improving. However, the latest technology often comes with a high price tag. Be sure to balance the cost effectiveness with the added technological advantages—not all products warrant the added expense of state of the art technology. Be sure to encompass topics like proper packaging techniques, the process for late pickups or deliveries, and handling equipment problems.


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