Refrigerated Vehicles and Cold Chain Management

March 12, 2018

“Refrigerated vehicles play a crucial role in the cold chain – the transportation link. Without transportation that’s sufficiently temperature controlled, cool cargo would perish more or less immediately when being shipped between locations, meaning that the end-user would theoretically have to fetch the goods directly from the supplier – or else make their own in-house”-Loredana Emmerson – Marketing Manager, Coolkit Ltd.

The cold chain is a crucial part of refrigerated transport, and a vital logistics consideration for almost every industry we serve here at CoolKit – and our refrigerated vehicles play a valuable role in maintaining it.

Essentially, the cold chain is a term used to refer to the temperature management of perishable goods. These perishable goods (sometimes referred to as ‘cool cargo’) need to be kept at a stable temperature from the moment of their creation right through to the moment of their end use. Maintaining an effective cold chain involves managing a network of refrigerators, freezers, chiller vehicles and cold stores in order to preserve and in some cases even extend the lifespan of ‘cool cargo’ – which can include things like flowers and bouquets, seafood and frozen food, as well as vaccines or drugs.

Without a well-regulated temperature, cool cargo and perishables can suffer adverse effects – which often vary from product to product. In the case of meat and other foods, they can change colour, bruise, degrade in texture or become home to bacteria. Any one of these can make them unfit for consumption, or at the very least make customers unwilling to take the risk. This can not only mean the shipment itself is written off, but it can cause longer-term damage to the distributor’s brand. In the case of medical or pharmaceutical goods, the results can be the same.

An unregulated temperature can wreak havoc on chemical or medical shipments; excessive heat can often make them completely useless in the best case scenario, or even actively harmful in the worst. Pharmaceuticals are developed – and generally act – only within a very specific set of conditions, and temperature is one of the most crucial of these. In the case of flowers and other decorative features, a lack of temperature control can make them wilt or otherwise physically degrade, which makes them useless for their primary function. This in turn then makes them valueless, making cold chain management a vital part of the transportation process.

Our refrigerated vehicles play a crucial role in the cold chain – the transportation link. Without transportation that’s sufficiently temperature controlled, cool cargo would perish more or less immediately when being shipped between locations, meaning that the end-user would theoretically have to fetch the goods directly from the supplier – or else make their own in-house. At CoolKit, we pride ourselves on being the people who make effective cold chain management possible. Not only do our refrigeration kits control temperature, but also important other factors like the air’s humidity inside our vans, thereby ensuring the maximum lifespan of our cargo.

Refrigerated Van Buyer’s Guide: The Main Key Factors To Consider

We understand that for some of our customers – especially those just starting their own business – the refrigerated van industry might not be the most intuitive subject to come to terms with. That’s why we have created a simple buyer’s guide, explaining everything you need to know and provide a quick overview of the sorts of considerations you might have when looking at a refrigerated van

What Temperature Do You Need? And What Will Your Van Be Carrying?

Obviously, knowing the temperature you require – or the range of them – is the very first question you’ll be asking when you come to buy a refrigerated van. Naturally, you’ll want to match the vehicle’s temperature to the needs of the cargo you’ll be transporting. Generally, the temperature range of a fridge van is between 0°C to +8°C, while a freezer van is more or less consistently at around -18°C. At CoolKit, we stock several vehicles with exceptionally powerful refrigerators, but we make sure that the units in every one of our freezer or chiller vans all reach our high standards of efficiency and reliability.

Depending on your industry and the needs of your business, it might be the case that you require more than one vehicle for several different loads. We can certainly accommodate this here at CoolKit, but we’re also capable of carrying out conversions that allow a single van to have a dual chilled and freezer compartment, saving you significant money on costs and helping you to be more economical and efficient in both the short and long term. All you have to do is ask!

To answer a question we hear from time to time – we don’t usually recommend certain makes or models of van for specific market sectors. They’re all equally capable of getting the job done! This works well in your favour, as it gives you a lot more immediate choice in selecting the van that suits you. If it falls short in any areas or you need it to perform a few extra tasks here and there, we can carry out a conversion to tailor it even further to your specifications, so we’re able to match your requirements to the letter.

Do You Have Any Bespoke Requirements?

At CoolKit we pride ourselves on being able to cater to a broad array of sectors and industries, and a big part of the way we do this is through the extensive customisation options we offer for our range of refrigerated vehicles. This includes (but is not limited to): ‘Wet Load’ or ‘Slip Resistant’ floors, Standby Capability, Extra Shelving Or Racking, Strip Curtains and many more.

What Payload Will Your Refrigerated Van Need?

Payload is and always has been a major consideration of ours here at CoolKit. Our engineers are always focused on improving and innovating to make sure that we’re able to offer the best payload ratios in the entire industry to every brand we work with, no matter their size or industry. The more payload we’re able to offer on our refrigerated vans, the more economical they are for our clients (that’s you!) to run. A van with an excellent payload may well make the difference between a customer having to use one van instead of two. Our available payloads range from between 300kg all the way up to 1300kg.

What Wheelbase Will Your Refrigerated Van Require?

In case you’re not up to speed on all the terms, the wheelbase is exactly what it sounds like; it’s the distance between the front and the rear axles of your van. If you’re using pallets to transport goods then you’ll find it a particularly important consideration, as it determines the amount of space you have available for them.

We generally use three distinct categorisations for wheelbase:

LWB (Long Wheel Base)

MWB (Medium Wheel Base)

SWB (Short Wheel Base)

You’ll likely already know roughly what wheelbase you need, but rest assured our experts at CoolKit are always on hand with any advice or answers you might need.

How Many Drops Will You Be Making? How Long Will The Doors Be Open For?

We’ve put these two questions under a single heading, because they’re very closely related. Both are key factors which affect the temperature inside the loading space, which in turn will determine what sort of refrigeration unit you need. At CoolKit we stock refrigeration units from four major brands, and each unit has a range of temperatures it’s best suited for.

The rule of thumb is that the higher the drop-off rate for your chiller van’s cargo, the harder the unit has to work in order to maintain the interior temperature. For example, an ice cream van’s interior temperature will need to be kept at -25°C at all times, so that the ice cream doesn’t melt. Normal freezer vans would be kept at -18°C, so in this case we’d definitely recommend a specific high-end model of refrigeration unit from our range.

As for the number of door openings, the typical number will be under three door openings an hour. In some cases it will be as many as four, but this is an absolute maximum. Meanwhile the longest duration they can be open for at a time is around three minutes. Again, if this is going to be the case we’d typically recommend our more powerful refrigeration units, whereas if the drop-off rate is going to be lower than this then we’d go with one of our smaller units, to maintain the energy efficiency of your chiller vehicle.

Will You Need Strip Curtains In Your Van?

Whatever the case with your refrigeration unit, here at CoolKit we’ll help to spec the correct one for your needs. While we’re doing this, we’ll also take a look at whether your refrigerated vehicle would benefit from strip curtains. They’ll always be necessary on a freezer van in order to keep the temperature down during pickups and drop-offs. For certain goods or products that need to be kept in deep-freeze (again, such as ice-cream), strip curtains are definitely required.

There’s also CurtAir, our own innovative in-house solution. CurtaAir has been specifically designed to provide efficiency and a significant payload saving on the van, without any loss in effectiveness. It’s inherently more powerful than strip curtains, but there is an associated rise in price, so it’s always best to check with our experts if you’re in doubt. For the record, a refrigerated vehicle at chiller temperature wouldn’t need strip curtains or CurtAir in order to maintain the interior temperature – the standard refrigeration unit will manage just fine.

 

One thought on “Refrigerated Vehicles and Cold Chain Management

  1. I never took into account the fact that there was a term for the temperature management of perishable goods and how they need to be kept at a temperature from creation until they are used. My husband is looking for refrigerated transport to help transport ingredients from his two restaurants. He will keep these tips in mind as he searches for a professional that can help him.

    Like

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