While many hauliers prefer to keep their options open and transport a diverse variety of available loads, there are some who see the better business in specialising. One such specialised area of haulage is 'cool cargo', or refrigerated transport. Although require research, in-depth planning and substantial financial outlay, it can be a very lucrative area. |
The Cold Chain
Due to the perishable nature of cooled goods – which can include seafood, meat, fresh produce, frozen food, pharmaceuticals and chemicals – planning the logistics is the main part of the operation. In order to prolong the life of the goods and ensure their safety for consumption or use, the logistics of the supply chain must ensure they remain at a constant set temperature from production, through warehousing, transport and distribution – this is known as the cold chain.
The required temperature depends on the nature of the goods, and in the case of fresh produce. Other aspects are also rigorously controlled. For instance, the air quality must be monitored, by measuring the humidity and levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. These parameters vary between foodstuffs (seafood, for example, requires a different environment than fresh fruit and vegetables or ready-frozen food).
When it comes to the pharmaceutical cold chains, incorrect handling of drugs, medicines and vaccines can have dire consequences, so there are strict protocols in place. The accepted temperature range for pharmaceuticals is 2-8 degrees Celsius. Some medicines' efficacy can be reduced, or they can even become dangerous, when ingested if the cold chain is broken at any step.
What the Cold Chain consists of?
A supply chain is defined as 'any sequence of events involved in the production and distribution of a product'. This includes manufacturing and supply, the transport and logistics, the distribution and sale of the products or goods. Everything consumers use goes through a specific supply chain to get to us, but perhaps none are so tightly controlled and monitored as the cold chain.
Managing the Cold Chain
Ensuring that the cold chain is not compromised is vital. CCMs (cold chain management) solutions are often supplied by a specialised third party provider to ensure all requirements are kept. With access to patented technology, dedicated CCM is able to monitor, document and control a cold chain at every phase - from factory floor to retail shelf. Automated analytics and reporting tools enable the end user to identify any problems in the supply chain, therefore reducing wastage and increasing profitability.
During the journey from production to consumer, sensitive goods such as food and pharmaceuticals have to go through a number of environments, so it's vital that the originator is able to guarantee high quality. CCM is a regulated method to ensure compliance.
Those hauliers who wish to specialise in refrigerated transport may need to make a heavy investment in vehicles and diagnostic equipment before they can take on any temperature sensitive available loads. This includes insulated shipping materials, packaging, refrigerated vehicles, and temperature data loggers. There is also a large amount of documentation required in order to ensure compliance. For those willing to invest, however, there's a huge number of available loads with temperature sensitive goods with customers paying high fees to ensure the safety of their chilled goods.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for available loads in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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