Maintaining end-to-end cold chain integrity is a critical focus for all cold storage operations as much of their inventory is consumed directly by end customers. If any instance of impropriety throughout the supply chain occurs it could lead to widespread sickness or death. On average, 10% of all pharmaceutical inventory is temperature controlled and a significantly larger portion of food products are also temperature controlled. Any contamination could result in thousands or even millions of dollars in inventory loss, logistics costs and settlement fees. Preventing inventory contamination in the cold chain has increased in complexity as the supply chain has globalized. A larger portion of temperature regulated goods are crossing international borders creating both regulatory challenges as well more opportunities for failure and/or complication before goods reach their final destination. Some of the most notable regulations impacting the cold chain are the Sanitary Food Transportation Act, Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and EU Good Distribution Practices. These pieces of legislation impact all key supply chain players including those that manufacture, store, transport and sell refrigerated and frozen products. Much of this legislation closely regulates the tracking and storage of handling and temperature related inventory data.
In an effort to solve cold chain challenges related to temperature maintenance, monitoring and recording supply chain operators handling temperature regulated inventory have begun to implement some successful industry best practices. Inventory pre-cooling has proven successful in reducing the wear and tear on refrigeration equipment and helps to guarantee temperature consistency from the time it is loaded until it is unloaded. Many cold chain businesses have also installed trailer condition monitoring systems that monitor temperature conditions in real time and send alerts if any unacceptable temperature variations are encountered. Packaging optimization has also proven useful in extending shelf life and improving product condition. In addition to monitoring trailer conditions, cold chain operators are also implementing inventory temperature monitoring technologies to track inventory status on a piece by piece or pallet by pallet basis. Retailers have also been encouraged to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for receiving to ensure only inventory of the highest quality ends up on their shelves and in consumer hands. With capacity increasing and the supply chain growing globally it is more critical than ever that the cold chain implement these best practices in order to keep consumers safe.