How to Maintain End-to-End Cold Chain System Integrity

Collaboration with all key stakeholders is critical for long-term temperature controlled success in the cold chain. Establishing processes and setting expectations is a necessary component. So, too, is sharing of data. Transparency of shipment information, such as through a shared cloud platform, through which stakeholders have access to relevant data, can help reduce inefficiencies and save product loads before waste occurs.

Long-term temperature controlled success depends on the right level of collaboration, expertise, and technology to help mitigate risk and ensure positive outcomes for all stakeholders across the cold chain, including a safe, high-quality product delivered to the end consumer.

One of the primary goals of third-party logistics and other companies is to maintain end-to-end cold chain integrity for all of their products that require refrigeration for them to remain in optimal, safe condition for consumption. Any loss of temperature at any point in the journey of these products, and they can become unsafe and even deadly to consume. If the problem is not caught before the products are distributed, it can lead to food poisoning or even more serious health problems.

Below, are some of the best practices to maintain the cold chain’s integrity from end-to-end.

Precooling Inventory

Post harvest precooling of fresh produce inventory before storage and transport reduces risk of microorganism growths, early maturation and unfavourable temperatures in product.

There are 5 main methods for precooling produce:

  • Room Cooling
  • Cydro-cooling
  • Vacuum Cooling
  • Ice Cooling
  • Forced-air Cooling

Precooling increases the shelf-life of fresh produce. Higher quality and longer shelf-life means more profits to produce growers.

Monitor and Maintain Trailer Temperature During Transport

Employing temperature tracking software with transport units helps assist logistic companies in monitoring and maintaining the optimal temperature required of unique fruit and vegetable groups.

The drivers or other transportation individuals need to monitor the temperature in their truck trailers or other means of transport to ensure that the quality of the fresh produce products has not deteriorated between the storage and retail points of the post harvest cycle.

Unfortunately, a lot of distribution channels hand over fresh produce supplies that present well yet are greatly affected by their travel conditions. This results in the buck being past to retail and consumer recipients. A large amount of food waste is technically food loss that has unknowingly being passed along the supply chain before showing any signs of product failure.

Proper Packaging

Since each product of the cold chain varies in its specific needs, the correct packaging is imperative to assist with maintaining its ideal temperature. This involves more than their outer containers and may range from dry ice to gel packs for the inner packaging.

Sustainable packaging is the latest initiative that a lot of cold chain stakeholders are implementing, both in the forms of reusable packaging and biodegradable single-use packaging.

Maintain Optimal Storage Conditions

When fresh produce is shipped away from suppliers to a storage facility, it is at this point in the cold chain system that those product supplies will spend a majority of their time so it is of upmost importance that the environmental conditions of the storage facilities by optimised, controlled and maintained. This means all efforts must be made to swiftly check shipments into their allotted storage space and then have the space be secured in order to cut down on atmosphere disturbance, unnecessary handling and human error.

With the assistance of a device like PostHarvest’s Environmental Sensor being mounted within the storage space, the API integration can then communicate with scrubbers, filtration systems and temperature controlled technology in order to maintain optimal conditions for the fresh produce supplies and alert facility staff to an irregularities and forecast optimal delivery times.

Internet of Things (IoT) Monitoring

Not surprisingly, cold chains can break down due to mechanical failures, traffic delays, human error and even theft. But with IoT-enabled cold chain solutions, issues like these can be addressed in real time and the entire logistics and supply chain infrastructure can respond as a single synchronised ecosystem.

The incorporation of IoT systems within the cold chain allows for end-to-end visibility of perishable products. The establishment of traceability and transparency for fresh produce supplies journeying through the system allows for stakeholders in the cold chain system to stand by their reports and the quality of the product they’re delivering to retail and consumers.

Ship Cold Chain Products at the Right Temperature

All products in the cold chain must also be shipped to clients at the proper temperature from their storage warehouses. Failure to do so will cause issues with the products and lead to client dissatisfaction.

Order Recipients Also Must Keep the Products at the Correct Temperatures

The last step in the cold chain is for order recipients to maintain the proper product temperatures. Even at this point, products can be ruined by failing at this step.

Fresh produce supplies depend on the reliability of a cold chain, a temperature-controlled supply chain in which a consistent and safe low-temperature range is maintained throughout a product’s transport.

An unbroken cold chain system, which is essential to keep fresh produce products safe to consume, tracks and ensures their quality at every point in the journey, from supplier to end consumer. It involves an uninterrupted series of refrigeration production, storage and distribution activities, equipment and logistics.

Ultimately, maintaining and tracking optimal temperature and environmental conditions for fresh produce supplies at each stage of the cold chain system will see to the integrity of the system holding up long-term.

 

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