Cold Chain Technologies for Food Transportation

Improve your cold chain process to ensure food arrives fresh

Cold chain technologies keep produce fresh

As a grocer, food purveyor or foodservice provider, you know that if you don't deliver the freshest food in the safest manner and shortest time possible – with built-in cost efficiencies to boot – you're going to have some pretty unhappy customers. And those customer expectations are increasing all the time.

There's a call for longer product shelf life, a consumer demand for the freshest offerings and a growing desire to know exactly where food came from. There's also a need, driven by multiple sources – including the Food Safety Modernization Act – to provide transparency and monitoring of every product from the moment it's harvested until it reaches the consumer's plate.

These are some tall orders, and the pressure is only increasing. But there is good news, and it comes in the form of a refined combination of human expertise and advanced cold chain technologies.

How Do You Ensure Fresh Foods Arrive as Planned?

"It's all about process, procedure and reliability," says Tom Scollard, Vice President, Dedicated Contract Carriage, Penske Logistics. "Leveraging the right level of technology is key to creating efficiencies."

When you have reliable equipment, a checks-and-balances procedure, and a firm cold chain process in place, your goal of getting your product where it needs to go – safely, on time and in the least costly manner possible – is definitely within reach.

Technological Innovations

  • Real-time tracking using GPS technology provides accurate temperature monitoring
  • Active monitoring adjusts temperature if there is a fluctuation
  • Passive monitoring provides a report at the end of the trip
  • Bar code inventory tracking systems – down to the item level
  • RFID devices that can be embedded into pallets or individual items

Technology in the Trailer

  • Properly- insulated containers
  • The right reefer unit for the job
  • Proper use of bulkheads, chutes and venting
  • Quality equipment: emissions-compliant trailers for optimum fuel- and cost-efficiency

Human Capital

  • Committed training of personnel and drivers
  • Firm grasp of proper loading techniques
  • Ability to use the available cold chain technology to its fullest capacity

Looking for help? Here's what you should ask a prospective 3PL provider:

  • How do my processes need to change to meet or exceed my customer's expectations?
  • What innovations can I employ to extend product shelf life?
  • How can I ensure my products do not carry food-borne illness?
  • How do I handle reverse logistics?
  • How do I configure my supply chain to maintain the visibility required for recalls?
  • What measures can I take to ensure I am FSMA-compliant?
  • How can I make the most efficient use of product transportation?
  • What tools can I use to determine product conditions during transit?
  • What are the proper loading techniques for single- and multi-stop deliveries?
  • How do I avoid temperature fluctuations or other temperature-related events?
  • How can I be sure the driver will close the gaps in completing the full cycle of safe delivery?
  • What precautions do I need to take in order to avoid product spoilage?
  • How can I be sure my driver/delivery person adheres to protocols?
  • What tools are available to identify waste in time and costs through the delivery process?

Getting cold foods where they need to go in a timely, cost-effective and safe manner requires creating a supply chain where every link is secure and efficient. The more you establish a system of reliable checks and balances, the better your outcomes will be – and the more satisfied and confident your customers will become.

Tom Scollard
Tom Scollard is Vice President of Dedicated Contract Carriage for Penske Logistics. He brings more than 30 years of transportation and logistics experience to the business. Scollard joined Penske in 2010 as a Strategic Account Executive servicing DCC accounts before being named to his current position. Prior to joining Penske, he served as Vice President of Sales for Quickway Distribution Services. He also worked at Rollins (prior to its purchase by Penske Truck Leasing) as DCC Director of Logistics Sales and in national account sales. Scollard is also a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).

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