The Importance of Cold Chain Monitoring in the Food Industry Supply Chain
The cold chain is vital to maintaining proper food product temperatures as they move through the supply chain.
However, ensuring that required temperatures are maintained at every stage of the supply chain to prevent potential product spoilage or damages can be challenging.
Studies show that 57% of businesses with poor visibility over their supply chain are susceptible to disruptions in the process, leading to a loss in revenue, which makes cold chain monitoring crucial.
In this guide, we’ll look into why cold chain monitoring in the food industry supply chain is essential, including a few tips and the technology that tracks this possible.
The vital role of cold chain monitoring
The cold chain is a type of supply chain specializing in preserving, storing, and transporting cargo that needs to be maintained within a temperature range or specific temperature.
When executed according to requirements, the cold chain employs specialized equipment and logistics approaches to maintain the required range of low temperatures.
In this manner, companies can provide persistent storage, production, and distribution, keeping food and other products in pristine condition by reaching consumers.
Temperature-controlled transport tracking is possible through internet-of-things (IoT) sensors attached to the cargo pallet or other packaging units.
These sensors can be configured to detect changes in temperature, humidity, shocks, and more, keeping quality managers informed at all times and making cold chain monitoring more efficient and empowering stakeholders with quality assurance transparency.
The sensors can sync with the cloud in many ways, including RTLS and RFID, both of which require massive investment in proprietary hardware. A compelling alternative for cold chain monitoring data uploads can be found in logger units with scannable QR code displays.
Whether you’re using QR sensors or any other solution to upload shipment condition logger data to your central database, cold chain monitoring is necessary to ensure that all logistics partners have successfully maintained consistent temperatures. Otherwise, there’s no way to ensure that your products haven’t been compromised.
With cold chain monitoring, quality managers and other stakeholders can easily track the products’ controlled environments temperatures, ensure they remain within the required range and stand behind their quality.
Temperature-controlled logistics allows you to safely transport large quantities of food and perishable products over long distances and through diverse climatic conditions. Here are some of the key advantages associated with cold chain monitoring in the food industry supply chain.
Access to real-time information
Temperature isn’t the only factor affecting your products’ condition as they move through the supply chain. For instance, cold chain products sensitive to vibrations can get damaged if a truck or carrier goes through incredibly bumpy routes.
Setting cold chain requirements, such as ensuring the transport vehicle has shocks, ambient lighting availability wherever the products are stored, protection measures from humidity, and more will help maintain your cargo’s condition.
Tracking these conditions using cold chain monitoring processes and technology will help preserve your products’ health. The more often logger data syncs with the cloud, the better visibility you’ll have into what’s happening en route.
Detailed and accurate temperature data
Imagine expecting a delivery of 80 tubs of ice cream only to find they all melted upon arrival. Not only is this frustrating, but it’s also a waste of your money, time, and it can lead to revenue loss.
Perhaps worse is the scenario where the ice cream arrives frozen, and you have no way of knowing how long it’s been frozen.
Cold chain monitoring allows you to be more proactive by letting you see real-time temperature conditions and changes.
Although making temperature adjustments to prevent compromising your products isn’t always possible while in transit, live temperature monitoring helps you take appropriate action when you can and minimize potential losses.
If a specific logistics partner consistently deviates from your temperature requirements over time, then you have the information you need to take your business elsewhere.
The following temperature ranges are generally used as standards to ensure proper cold chain product transport.
- Deep freeze (-28 °C to -30 °C) for meat exports and seafood
- Frozen (-16 °C to -20 °C) for meat and specific kinds of produce
- Chill (2 °C to 4 °C) for fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, and particular dairy products
- Cool-chain (12 °C to 14 °C) for over-the-counter drugs, processed food, and fresh produce.
Cold chain monitoring helps you ensure your products are transported at ideal temperature-controlled shipping conditions.
Accommodating retail and end-user preferences
Different end-users may have various preferences when receiving cold shipment deliveries.
However, transportation solutions and traditional cold chain packaging limitations on capability, capacity, and cost-efficiency can hinder you from delivering your products according to your end-users’ or customers’ liking.
These limitations can also limit your ability to identify and take appropriate actions on potential vulnerabilities along the cold chain supply journey.
Implementing a significant data logging and monitoring solution helps you find a balance between cost-effectiveness and functionality to accommodate end-user cold shipment delivery preferences.
Visibility into quality at the package level
Small cold chain products, such as those in single portion frozen food containers, are usually packed individually instead of being aggregated in big boxes. This kind of packaging has a lower thermal mass, exposing your products to more significant temperature excursion risks.
Cold chain monitoring helps you track temperature at a package level to detect potential hotspots.
These hotspots can occur due to conditions such as products left outside cold rooms longer than the rest of the cargo, items located closest to the refrigerator door, and were last to be loaded in stony places, and so forth.
Compliance with federal regulations
Aside from aiding your business in providing high-quality and completely safe products to consumers, data logging, and cold chain monitoring help you comply with federal regulations.
Government agencies regularly audit companies in industries like pharmaceuticals and food to ensure customer safety and compliance.
Cold chain monitoring helps you ensure that your perishable products adhere to food and customer safety standards, significantly reducing the chances that you’ll be slammed with a violation that could ruin your business.
Cold chain monitoring might only be a piece of the food industry supply chain process, but it’s a crucial aspect of your business operations.
Through temperature-controlled logistics tracking, you’ll reduce product spoilage, lower the likelihood of damaged products reaching your customers, and improve your products’ consistency and quality.
Deploying cold chain monitoring technology and data logging will also help you enhance your regulatory compliance and achieve a more excellent transport range, which gives you more opportunities to expand and grow your business.
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