Recent supply chain concerns have companies rethinking how they can best coordinate supply chain logistics to improve their procedures and infrastructure in order to uphold the quality of their products. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on some of the vulnerabilities of global supply chains and highlighted the need for specially designed supply chains that facilitate the transport of medical products to patients.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has also highlighted how foreign affairs can affect domestic supply chains and some of the frailties present with global supply chains today. Many industries can be impacted by geopolitical and public health issues, which is why it is so important that companies use the most modern tools and systems at their disposal to transport products around the world.
Creating reliable supply chains becomes even more complex when products being shipped must be kept at specific temperatures. For a variety of important industries, this is essential. That includes the food, beverage, and medical industries. These industries produce products that consumers rely on every day, so it’s crucial that careful regulations oversee the conditions in which these products are shipped around the world.
Many of these industries have had to innovate new approaches to create temperature-controlled supply chains, also known as cold chain storage. This set of procedures and technologies need to be overseen by management teams, leading to the field of cold chain management. Let’s explore how cold chain management works across these important industries and the tools and technologies needed to facilitate it.
Data Loggers for Cold Chain Management
Data loggers are small, electronic devices that collect environmental data such as temperature, humidity, and differential pressure. Data loggers are an important part of supply chain management since they automate the monitoring of environmental conditions in which temperature-sensitive products are stored. In the past, analog temperature monitoring methods such as thermometers were used for this purpose, but data loggers allow for the automatic collection of more accurate temperature data over time.
Data loggers also mitigate the possibility of employees making mistakes when taking temperature measurements manually. They are effective tools to improve data management and provide greater assurance that the temperature data of storage units are accurate and reliable. In fact, regulators for many industries actually require that data loggers are used to monitor storage conditions to avoid products from becoming unsafe or ineffective before reaching consumers.
Cold Chain Management in the Food and Beverage Industry
In the food and beverage industry, data loggers and other cold chain logistics tools prevent food products from expiring while being shipped to consumers. Poor cold chain management can result in food-borne illness outbreaks, supply chain crises, and public health threats. On the other hand, careful cold chain management can prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and help to mitigate their effects should they occur.
That is because the use of data loggers can help to make food products more traceable by providing retroactive data about the temperature of specific storage units. For example, if a food-borne illness outbreak occurs in a specific city, management and regulators can trace the path those food products took to reach that destination. They can then review the temperature logs of each storage facility the products were kept in to uncover the root of the outbreak and prevent or recall other products that have also been stored there.
Certain data loggers can even be used to record the humidity data of different storage facilities. If humidity levels rise beyond safe levels, certain food products can be at greater risk of mold, bacteria, or other contaminants. Data loggers can help keep food fresh and healthy for consumers.
Cold chain management teams can even use data loggers to detect if the doors to storage facilities are open or closed. This minimizes the chances that doors accidentally left ajar will impact temperatures and affect food quality.
Cold Chain Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry
According to Dickson Data, cold chain management is also extremely important for pharmaceutical companies that need to set up a pharmaceutical cold chain. In fact, pharmaceutical cold chain management has become an area of interest for many investors because they are necessary to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. Virtually all of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at low or ultra-low temperatures in order to maintain their efficacy.
That’s why manufacturers like Pfizer have put a strong emphasis on making pharmaceutical cold chain management as seamless as possible for healthcare workers. Pfizer vaccines are shipped in specialized shipping containers equipped with high-tech data loggers and dry ice to keep the vaccines at very low temperatures.
Nonetheless, healthcare workers must be specially trained on how to handle COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine manufacturers as well as organizations like the CDC give specific instructions to healthcare facilities about how to transport vaccines from shipping containers to storage facilities. Often, specific equipment must be used to handle vaccines so that a worker’s body heat does not raise the temperature of vaccines.
Important Components of Cold Chain Management
Companies that rely on a cold chain should take steps to reduce energy consumption and waste by making use of the most efficient refrigeration technologies available. They should also streamline their cold chain management procedures to reduce the amount of time it takes their team to maintain pharmaceutical cold chain infrastructure.
Customer service is another important part of cold chain management. Both B2C and B2B customers expect goods to arrive on time and to be treated with respect. Cold chain management service providers and comprehensive supply chain analyses can be good tools to bolster customer service efforts.
Data collected throughout the cold chain must be properly formatted, integrated, and submitted to regulators. Failure to uphold a comprehensive compliance policy will result in increased legal liability and potential future lawsuits or regulatory consequences. In addition to cold chain storage, product management, tracking, transportation, customs clearance, and delivery must also be considered.
To sum up, it’s clear to see how cold chain management is critical to some of our most important industries. Failures in the cold chain can result not just in legal liability, but also in the loss of life. That’s why it’s so important for companies to carefully consider each aspect required to create reliable cold chain management solutions.