Even if you haven’t been paying attention to the news cycle lately, you’ve probably heard about the supply chain and its various woes. Although the supply chain is an integral part of our worldwide infrastructure, it’s far from the only aspect of it. In addition to the typical Supply chain, there’s a cold supply chain that is largely responsible for the foods, medicines, and other temperature-sensitive products we use every single day. Many companies work along the cold chain to ensure the viability of products, their quality, and that they reach their destination safely. In order to accomplish this arduous task, they must rely on various tools and technologies to keep the cold chain consistent at all times. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most important ones.
The Importance of Cold Chain Monitoring
Monitoring items being transported through the cold chain is of the utmost importance for any business. And it goes far beyond monitoring for temperature fluctuations or issues. Remember that in any Supply chain, including the cold chain, compliance and regulations are integral components of operating within those sectors. By monitoring your shipments, you can maintain compliance, whether it’s FDA standards or keeping up with the temperature requirements of certain vaccines. Aside from that, monitoring helps ensure a quality product that will ultimately make your customers happy. Clients don’t want to receive a product that’s spoiled or damaged. Moreover, monitoring reduces fuel costs, streamlined shipping, and makes it easier to make informed decisions about your supply lanes quickly.
Refrigerated Trucks and Transports
One of the single most crucial technologies used in cold chain shipping are the refrigerated trucks and transport vehicles themselves. Refrigerated trucks provide a safe and effective means of transporting temperature controlled items over long distances. They are integral to food security and safety, and must be consistently maintained. Thanks to this technology, the cold chain can function efficiently and without much difficulty. Of course, to get the most out of them, the trucks must be regularly maintained and inspected. Without them, maintaining the integrity of the cold chain would be nearly impossible. That makes them a highly sophisticated, important technology that should be considered when planning anything along your cold chain.
Just as important as the refrigerated vehicles in which cargo is transported or the temperature sensors / indicators used to monitor temperature fluctuations. A quick fluctuation and temperature can cause significant problems if not noticed quickly or addressed in a timely manner. Food, for instance, can be very badly damaged or spoiled if it falls within a certain danger zone. This is typically between 41 and 135 degrees F. What happens in these situations is that bacteria and mold can grow on these items, rendering them spoiled. This costs not only money, but can be detrimental to the health of anybody who receives them. Poor packaging, poor logistics, and not monitoring temperatures can be a real problem.
Temperature indicating cold chain technologies are comprised of temp indicators of all types, and are best used part of a more comprehensive monitoring system for your cold chain.
There are many tools that work well and integrate with temperature monitors. One of these is humidity detectors. Humidity can be a source of major consternation and concern in any supply chain. Why? Because humidity and condensation can severely damage products, medicine, food, and other cold items. If certain products aren’t kept in proper temperature ranges, or the humidity is too high for the product, various problems can set it. Condensation can occur if the temperature gets too high or freezing /freezer burn can happen if it gets too well. Using humidity monitors to control and monitor either humidity along with your temperature is beneficial for everyone from the warehouse to consumers. Controlling moisture and humidity is a tough task, but doing it right and staying on top of any potential problems can ultimately protect the integrity of your entire cold chain while keeping products in tip top shape.
Warehouse Monitoring With RFID
Trucks aren’t the only place you need to monitor your cold chain—the warehouse is just as important to monitor as everything else! RFID asset tags can also be used to track and manage inventory in warehouses. It’s in inventory management where RFID can truly excel. Tags are easily situated or placed pallets, boxes, or individual items. When an item gets scanned, the RFID tag sends a signal to a reader. The reader then identifies the item and its location. In this manner, businesses can easily keep track of their inventory more efficiently, prevent theft, and know exactly where everything is at all times.