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Cold chain custody is a supply chain that is temperature controlled throughout, a factor that is crucial to the safety of the products transported. The term includes the use of refrigerated production, storage and transportation units, along with all the logistics and equipment involved to maintain cold chain custody.
It’s a complicated operation. Those who oversee cold chain custody shoulder a great deal of responsibility. The products shipped can include:
- Fresh produce
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Frozen food
Cold chain logistics involves processes and equipment used in cold chain custody to ensure that products are transported within the specified temperature range.
Challenges Facing Cold Chain Custody
Given the complexities of cold chain custody, it’s no surprise that those who work in this area face significant challenges to remain competitive.
Cold Chain Logistics
One of the major hurdles is having a system that collects and logs data on the status of the products being shipped. In addition to ensuring the safety of what is shipped, it also supplies the needed records showing compliance to all regulations.
Global Cold Chain
As the marketplace expands around the world, so does the cold chain. Companies now must develop plans for cold chain custody that covers thousands of miles – and quickly. One example is Alaskan salmon, which must be shipped long distances quickly to ensure that the salmon maintains freshness.
Compliance with regulations from every jurisdiction through which the cold chain runs is one of the major challenges facing supply chain managers who oversee cold chain logistics. This can include issues such as proper package labeling, domestic and international documentation, how carriers handle shipments and using Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved drivers if the cold chain includes travel by air.
Higher Quality Standards
Many consumers now want to see documentation on how their food traveled from Point A to Point B (their grocery store). They also have a higher demand for food that is fresh. That means temperature zones must be perfect in each segment of the cold chain. Some warehouses may have as many as five different temperature zones.
Telematics and Cold Chain Custody
Telematics play a significant role in handling cold chain custody. Using sophisticated sensor equipment, companies can better manage the handling of items that require cold chain custody. They include technology that allows for finding the best route in real-time, tracking the status of truck engines and tires, and offering real-time feedback to drivers on best practices to save fuel and cut down on trip times.
Telematics also can maintain records that document every move along the cold supply chain, providing accountability throughout.
Cold chain requires knowledge in many different areas. For example, it requires an understanding of chemical and biological processes associated with the correct temperature to prevent a product from perishing. But it also requires technology that can support the design of a supply chain that ensures the safe manufacturing, storage and transportation of goods that require cold storage.