Cold chain logistics present many obstacles for transportation companies to overcome, but even more so for the cargo owner. Managing product integrity throughout transport and across the chain of custody demands a robust system of checks and balances.
Properly managed cold chains rely on a robust Transportation Management System (TMS), specifically designed to handle temperature integrity concerns. Moreover, effective cold chain management means partnering with a solutions provider like Next Generation Logistics, who has authoritative expertise in the temperature control domain.
A strict look at cold chain logistics
Paramount on the list of concerns when managing a cold chain is the freight’s real-time integrity. Whether it’s foodstuffs, medications, or sensitive chemicals, when temperature is a variable there’s no room for fluctuation. Integrity ranges between 2 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees Celsius for many pharmaceuticals demonstrate just how stringent the restrictions for temperature maintenance are.
Simply relying on the thermostats in reefer trailers isn’t enough. At best, these temperature controls alert a driver to imbalances; at worst, they alert you to what you already know when you open the trailer: Spoilage awaits. As products move from dock to dock, highway to highway, and across borders, the entire chain of custody requires real-time tracking.
Real-time tracking is key for many reasons. It allows operators to act immediately to prevent spoilage. It also pinpoints where during the chain of custody a problem has occurred, indicating who or what is responsible.
Real-time monitoring also enables real-time solutions. When combined with a robust TMS, real-time information influences the larger scope of a logistical plan so future points in the cold chain can adapt.
When dealing with the strict demands of the cold chain, the onus of integrity is on freight managers and logistics operators. This is where the tools of an intelligent TMS come into play and where a partner like Next Generation Logistics proves invaluable. Take a look at some fundamental examples:
- Regulation compliance — Compliance means following cold freight every step of the way from producer to the final destination. For this, internet of things (IoT) sensors tied in to TMS monitoring are highly effective. Sensors streaming data can tell exactly where and when problems occur, resulting in better compliance standards.
- Documentation — The more steps in the cold chain, the more chances there are for things to go wrong. A smart logistics provider realizes this and works to streamline the chain to its fewest possible transactions, as well as creates a paper trail to verify that standards and processes are met at every stage of custody.
- Delays — Temperature-controlled freight planning requires precision, which makes delays potentially devastating. Delays loading/unloading, at checkpoints, or during inspections can result in spoilage. Minimizing delays with thorough planning and foresight can also minimize compromised freight, while real-time TMS oversight helps logistics providers adjust to avoid known delays.
Other obstacles include hardware malfunctions, inadequate packaging, and re-routing, which also demand reactive solutions from logistics providers.
Installing checks and balances
In addition to versatile software and seasoned professionals at the helm, cold chain logistics requires more on the front of checks and balances:
- IoT temperature sensors that alert drivers and TMS operators to temperature breaches, allowing them to seek trailer repairs.
- Proper training of all persons within the cold chain, to better understand handling and expectations for freight.
- Contingency plans built in to logistics that enable evasive action in the event of an unexpected scenario.
- Strong documentation and real-time monitoring to encourage transparency and accountability for each entity within the chain of custody.
Cold chain logistics are modernizing to accommodate increasing demand for fresher products, faster. As cold chains become more prevalent, freight companies, logistics providers, and owners need to establish good processes supported by checks and balances. Visibility, accountability, and adaptability are the core tenets that will lead to success.