In our current state of the world, one hot topic that is going around is cold chain.
It is an all-time high right now due to the demand for food and pharmaceuticals. These industries are expanding at a fast rate. Because of this, innovations of ways to keep the quality and freshness of products are coming up minute by minute. The goal is for the products to reach the consumer’s rising demands.
Food and pharmaceutical products usually have the shortest shelf life. Aside from continuous innovation in prolonging their products shelflife, one of the biggest concerns of manufacturers is logistics. For the products to reach the end consumer’s in their optimal state, they must be stored within their temperature requirement. To make this possible, the manufacturer must also invest in capital-intensive and energy dependant equipment.
Other kinds of challenges of cold chain logistics include:
- Capacity and resource constraints.
- Cost concerns.
- Matching the exact storage and logistics needs of each sector.
It is indeed challenging to deliver satisfactory products to meet the consumer’s needs and demands. But as mentioned earlier, the food and pharmaceutical industries are continuously innovating to fulfill each of consumer’s demands. To fulfill the needs of our consumers, it is important to recognize these trends in the cold chain. Not only that, but action will also be required. You might be wondering more about this cold chain matter. Luckily, this article will help guide you in learning more about these emerging cold chain trends.
The Trend of New Packaging
In the cold chain industry, packaging is one of the most crucial aspects of the process. Packaging plays a huge deciding factor in making sure the contents inside are kept safe and fresh until they reached the final consumer.
For a while now, specialized packaging has been a trending topic. Manufacturers have been more specific on the packaging of their products. This goes for industries like food and beverages and pharmaceuticals. For the food industry manufacturers, disposable and reusable packaging is their way. They are slowly shifting to this kind of packaging with the intent of “going green”. For the pharmaceutical industry, balancing the packaging and transportation costs is an issue. A company can pick either a 24, 48, or 72-hour packaging for smaller shipments moving through the supply chain. Those types of packaging can help prevent the products from becoming useless. However, the challenge comes from the cost being incurred higher when the packaging is more insulated. Another problem that plays a huge factor is globalization. If cold chain products like pharmaceuticals are shipped overseas, the carrier must be knowledgeable in re-icing the shipment. This is even more important if any delay happens.
Companies specializing in temperature-controlled packaging use single-use or reusable packaging. These kinds of companies use these for cold chain needs. There are new refrigerated shipping systems that have no more use of gel coolants. Furthermore, compared to typical cold chain packages, they weigh much less. These systems have the kind of technology that is evaporative and reactive cooling. With this type of technology, it can respond and adjust to fluctuating temperatures.
Traditional packaging is starting to become a thing of the past. This has become more evident due to significant innovations like evaporative cooling technology. Even simple things like adding handles or straps to packaging contributed to this result. Being the most innovative packaging company is the goal of many companies nowadays. It gives them the competitive edge to be the type of packaging company that best fits your cold chain needs.
Regulations, Regulations, Regulations
Stricter regulations on shipped products are another trend in the cold chain as well. The number of cases about food safety and pharma counterfeits has been rising. This, along with globalization, has prompted governments to take action regarding regulations. Production and cold chain have been re-evaluated.
The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act marks the beginning of these rules. The act’s purpose is that anyone in the food supply chain is required to document the process. This means every step of the process. For example, the point of origin is important for products like fruit. It needs to be traced back to where it came from. Because of this, multiple cold chain logistics providers are investing in additional credentials. They are also adhering to the regulatory requirements by incorporating strict practices.
It has also been a common trend across the logistics of the cold chains in being proactive when it comes to these strict rules and regulations. To help mitigate their cold chain issues, manufacturers are strengthening their processes in-house. When shipping through a cold chain, safety is a must for the manufacturer.
The Quality and Sensitivity of Products
The quality of products makes many people today more conscious of what they are buying. In a way, it is like “ survival of the fittest”. How does this matter, though, for those involved in the cold chain logistics? This means that products should not have as much damage as possible. There should not be any flaw in the packaging or quality. It must reach the final consumer in good shape. The carrier in charge of the shipment of products must be adept in cold chain management. When a shipment fluctuates beyond the required temperature, they must know how to avoid changes in the texture and taste of the product. Refrigerated warehouses will need to maintain temperature zones to focus on quality products. Manufacturers rely on using numerous cold storage techniques to ensure no damage. Examples of these cold storage techniques include controlled temperatures to suit various products and the logistics cycle they have to go through.
The food industry has a rising demand for fresher and higher-quality products. And this is one of the biggest trends in the cold chain. Peaches must be juicier, and avocados must be riper according to the consumer’s wants. Quality products don’t just end at fresh food. Taking the pandemic into consideration, people want to ensure that the vaccines being used are safe for them to be put into their bodies. Furthermore, there has been a growth in the number of biological drugs and gene therapies. Due to this, as an effort to meet the demand, companies are also widening their capacity for temperature-controlled transportation.
In the pharmaceutical supply chain, cold chain logistics plays a huge part. The cold chain is needed for manufacturers of these vaccines and medications. It is important to prevent damage to the expensive drugs, and things must run smoothly. It is also imperative that pharmaceuticals must arrive as good as new. Medicine that has sat in incorrect temperatures for long periods can be ineffective. What is worse is that it can even harm the health of the patient. That is why in a cold chain, the quality of products must not be compromised to satisfy the consumer.
The Market of Cold Chain at a Global Scale is Booming
It is expected that the global cold chain market size will grow 14.8 percent from 2021 to 2028, according to a recent report by Grand View Research. Nations across the globe see a rising need to prevent food waste and the loss of healthcare products. Spoilage has no room for this economy. China and India are a couple of nations focusing on meeting the demand for their exports by enhancing their global cold chain efforts. International trade liberalization, on a worldwide scale, has also boosted cold chain use. Manufacturers must make themselves more specialized in their products. The global cold chain is rising. They can ship their goods globally to reach a wider variety of customers.
Monitoring th Cold Chain
The consumer’s demand for quality products is what causes the increase of demand in the cold chain. The quality of the products is what needed protection. To ensure this, real-time monitoring and tracking are a necessity.
Regulatory requirements and good practice determine that monitoring your cold storage environment is critical. In the pharmaceutical industry, many vaccines and drugs require storage between 2°C and 8°C (35.6°F to 46.4°F). Some mRNA-based vaccines require ultra-low temperatures of down to -90°C.
Wireless temperature sensors with calibration check and failover act as dataloggers and synch data to AKCPro Server. Wireless sensors transmit data to the Wireless Tunnel Gateway. Data is logged and graphed regularly, with user-defined thresholds for immediate alerts when critical conditions arise. Sensor-controlled siren and strobe alarms can give audible and visual alerts.
Data logging during transit is easy with battery-operated wireless sensors. Data is logged and synchronizes with the AKCP Gateway when it returns to the depot. Live data is also possible with communications through a cellular data connection and live location via GPS.
We need to take away as much as we can from the pandemic if we want to plan for a better future. The mistakes that we have made up until now can be the stepping stone we need to build on our success.
Cold chain stakeholders will have an ongoing challenge in making sure to have efficient and effective cold chain management. They will have to take responsibility for ensuring uninterrupted delivery of temperature-controlled products to key markets throughout the world. The cold chain industry has quickly adapted and innovated the supply chain while it increasingly became more complex.
With these innovative trends, the future of cold chains can be a better fit for its consumers.