A cold chain is the logistics management of perishable goods. This includes the processes that are necessary to keep them at a certain temperature or below for their entire lifespan. The intricacies of cold chain management may be confusing for many business owners, but understanding these concepts can make your life easier.
Cold chains consist of three components: Transportation, storage, and distribution. This guide will help you understand how each component affects your business and what you need to do to protect your products against spoilage.
The Importance of Cold Chain Logistics
One major factor affecting your business’s success is its ability to properly manage the many facets of your cold chain logistics. Although everything seems like it’s moving smoothly, there are bound to be things that slip through the cracks. These slip-ups may have devastating consequences on your company and its customers.
Disruptive shipping and freight agents are common culprit for shipping spoilage. So, the first thing you should do is take the time to create a comprehensive document that outlines all of the shipping and freight agents that will be dealing with your shipments. Make sure to get a solid contract that says you are hiring the right agent and that they have no involvement in processing spoilage.
The Basics of Cold Chains
First, let’s look at how the cold chain system works. For this example, we’re going to use a typical packaging industry. When you buy a food product from the store, it will be kept at the store or distribution center for a period of time. At that time, the packaging must be transported to a distribution center or warehouse.
Once there, it will be frozen, and kept until it reaches the end user. Even when the product reaches the end user, the cold chain system continues. The freezer must be maintained at a temperature of at least 0°F for at least 24 hours after the product has been removed from it.
The transportation side of the cold chain system is the most critical to success.
Transportation refers to the movement of goods to their destination. This can be from your shop to an owner’s warehouse or store. The transportation component of cold chain management refers to the transfer of goods from one storage location to another. Transportation, like all aspects of cold chain management, is an important element. However, it is an important aspect because if your goods are not transported on time or at the right temperature, your business could end up losing money and your reputation.
Cold chain logistics should always be planned with in mind the needs of the consumer. If consumers are receiving your goods late or experiencing poor storage, then your business will suffer in the long run.
When your items are stored, the storage is divided into three steps: material preparation, storage, and recovery. All stores, markets, and storage facilities must adhere to federal laws that outline acceptable storage conditions.
Material preparation includes the following:
- Food preparation, including storing for long periods of time
- Additional cleaning procedures
- Separation of sensitive goods
- Restocking or preventive maintenance of equipment
- Cleaning of refrigeration and temperature control systems
Proper storage should be done in temperature-controlled warehouses. There should be no temperature difference between the warehouse and the temperature at the location where you are storing your product.
Your products will be sold once they are shipped to the market. In many cases, your product needs to be shipped from the source to your location. For example, you may need to ship bananas to a store in a certain town, but the product has to be processed before it reaches the store. The process of shipping that banana includes all of the steps from farm to table.
This process includes packing your fruit in a box, loading the box onto a shipping truck, and putting the box on a ship. Once the bananas arrive in the store, a repackage needs to take place, and then the box must be delivered to the store. It is important to note that while transportation may be the initial requirement, the store may not be able to accept the box until it is completely dried.
Logistics management is the basic and most difficult aspect of the retail industry. Every consumer product has a unique supply chain and must travel a long way to reach the consumer. Your business and your products are often harmed by problems within your supply chain.
Your cold chain management can make or break your business. But it’s not impossible to achieve. Knowledge is key, but it’s up to you to seek out the correct guidance to get you on the right path.