Cold chain shipping plays a big role in meeting the global demand for fresh food, pharmaceuticals, and other perishable goods. But it’s not without a struggle.
Cold chain shipping operators face many challenges at every level of the supply chain—from procurement and storage to transport and delivery—so they can get these products to their destination without expensive recalls or wastage.
In this article, we will discuss some of the most common challenges cold chain shipping operators face and how they can be effectively addressed.
What Is Cold Chain Shipping?
Cold chain shipping is the process of safely transporting temperature-sensitive products along the supply chain or network and uses science to evaluate the link between temperature and perishability.
Cold chain shipping has several moving parts: cold storage, cooling systems, cold transport, cold processing, and cold distribution. It relies on several technologies to ship temperature-sensitive goods successfully such as:
- Dry ice
- Liquid nitrogen
- Eutectic plates
- Gel packs
- Insulated quilts
- Thermal packaging
7 Cold Chain Shipping Challenges and How to Solve Them
1. Insufficient Documentation
Perishable goods often require more documentation than regular cargo. When the documents are incomplete, the trucker will likely experience problems when crossing state borders. Not only that—insufficient documentation could also lead to stiffer penalties and huge fines because of compliance violations for lost chain of custody and documents.
To prevent this, the shipper and driver must collaborate to ensure documents are accurate and complete.
2. Lack of Supply Chain Visibility
Shippers who are new to the trade are often unaware of where the goods being shipped are in real-time. They don’t know the condition of the goods while they are being shipped or stored. This lack of supply chain visibility disempowers you to spot and fix weaknesses before they become major problems.
To be able to track the product’s movement and condition across the supply chain, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can be deployed together with scanning equipment, temperature sensors, and Supply Chain Management (SCM) software.
3. Unexpected Delays
Another cold chain shipping challenge that frequently happens is unexpected delays. They’re bad for any logistics company, but they’re especially devastating for cold chain shipping because delays in the delivery of refrigerated products can affect their quality and lessen their shelf life.
Some of the common reasons for unexpected delays include bad weather, traffic jams, and vehicle breakdowns.
Some of the interventions you can do to reduce the risk of delays include real-time weather and traffic monitoring, rerouting, and route optimization. Also, choose a logistics company with an excellent track record; one that conducts regular truck inspections and maintenance to lessen the occurrence of vehicle breakdowns.
4. Fluctuating Temperatures
To maintain the quality of perishable goods, the right temperature must be maintained at all times. But this becomes a problem due to damaged freezer doors, inadequate cooler space, and improperly closed doors.
They can cause condensation buildup and moisture which can lead to the growth of molds, microbes, and mildew and affect the goods being transported.
The Pallet Parka
The Pallet Parka comfortably moves your product across state or international markets while maintaining a five to 10 degree range from its original temperature, ultimately allowing you to bypass chilled chain transport without risking a damaged product.
On top of offering freeze, heat, and even UV protection, the Pallet Parka can accommodate up to 70 cases of 16oz cans!
Tight-Sealing, Impactable Freezer Doors
There are tight-sealing doors that snap back on their tracks when hit by loading machinery. Some even have the capability to track the number of times the door has been opened and closed. The data collected can be used to help better manage energy and security.
When freezer doors break down during transport and can’t be immediately repaired, insulated door blankets are handy temporary replacements to avoid product spoilage.
Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS)
To control condensation, you can use high-volume, low-speed fans to create airflow.
Keeping freezers free of spills, proper packaging, and pre-chilling of goods can lower the risk of temperature fluctuations, especially during loading.
5. Maintaining Hygiene
Cross contamination and pest infestation are common concerns that plague storage freezers which means they’re also typical cold chain shipping problems. How can pathogens and pests be avoided?
Aside from religiously monitoring the functionality of cold storage and freezers, regular cleaning and sanitation must also be done to avoid contamination. Switching to plastic pallets can also help reduce the risks associated with wood pallets.
6. Loading and Unloading Exposure
Cold chain trucks can’t drive straight into the cold storage to get the goods; the goods need to be hauled from the cold storage to the truck which exposes them to undesirable temperatures. This transition, no matter how short it may seem, can cause sensitive products to degrade.
To solve this problem, hire a cold chain shipping company that’s an expert at transporting goods from cold storage to the truck without delays. These companies usually use a drive-through dock design with a strong loading dock seal to keep the goods away from the heat outside.
7. Human Error
Cold chain shipping requires highly trained professionals with requisite experience in various cold storage and transportation equipment, processes, and protocols.
Insufficient training and negligent staff could lead to increased costs and unnecessary problems. Some of the most common human error stories that happen in cold chain shipping involve bad handling and bad practices.
Although “everyone makes mistakes,” the right transporter is the best solution to avoid human error in moving perishable goods. They have the proper training in managing special equipment and carrying temperature-sensitive products.
They know what to do in case of breakdowns and other emergencies and have the capacity to be flexible in a fluid situation. Reliable providers also have multiple service lines and maintain tie-ups with service centres en route in case they need equipment or vehicle servicing.
Partner With The Right Cold Chain Shipping Provider
The more oversight your cargo needs, the more you need a cold chain shipping provider you can trust.
Brew Movers is an expert in the field of cold chain shipping, that’s why we completely understand the demands of your supply chain. We have the experience, technology, and training on temperature monitoring and security protocols so you can be sure we can deliver your precious cargo on time and in good condition.
Contact us today to get a quote!