Cold chains are a type of supply chain that specializes in the preservation, transportation and storage of cargo that needs to be maintained at a particular temperature.
Cold chains developed due to a growing need for temperature-controlled logistics that could help in safe transportation of large quantities of food and perishable items over long distances.
Over the times, cold chains have become an important part of modern supply chain solutions to transport sensitive or vital goods over great distances in diverse climatic conditions.
Cold chain plays a vital role in the storage and transportation of the following products:
Food & Beverages
- High-end foodstuffs
- Fruits & vegetables
- Seafood and meat
- Dairy and poultry
- Ready-to-eat and processed food
- Volatile chemicals
- Healthcare and pharmaceutical products
- Biologics meant for medical research
Other Temperature-sensitive Items
- Plants and flowers
- Synthetic products
- High-tech electrical/electronic components
- Photographic film
While an important part of cold supply chain management is to maintain low temperatures to preserve perishable goods, not every cold chain cargo needs to be transported at zero temperature. For example, in winters, some fruits and vegetables need to be kept warm to ensure they last longer or to preserve their texture. Different cold chain supplies need different temperatures and conditions to be maintained, that is why cold supply chain logistics is also known as temperature-controlled transport.
Temperature Standards for Cold Supply Chain
Cold supply chain transportation is generally categorized into the following temperature ranges:
- (-28 °C to -30 °C) Deep freeze — seafood and meat exports.
- (-16 °C to -20 °C) Frozen — meat and certain types of produce.
- (2 °C to 4 °C) Chill — fruit and vegetables, fresh meat, certain dairy products.
- (2 °C to 8 °C) Pharma — medicines and vaccines.
- (12 °C to 14 °C) Cool-chain — fresh produce, processed food and over-the-counter drugs.
Transporting goods at these temperature standards would have been very difficult without development of new technologies. With this, transporters accomplish ideal temperature-controlled shipping conditions.
What are the parts of a Cold Supply Chain operation?
The cold supply chain has four main components:
Specialized refrigeration facilities where cold chain cargo is stored until its shipment to a distribution center or its destination.
Customized isolated cold containers that help transport goods via roadways, railways, airways, or waterways.
Trained and diligent personnel:
Persons who are familiar with the difficulties of handling sensitive cold chain cargo.
Efficient management and operational procedures:
To eliminate risk during day-to-day operations as well as in case of unexpected incidents.