What Is Cold Chain Transport?

Most of us are familiar with the term “supply chain.” Cold chain transportation is a variation of the standard supply chain concept of moving products along from production to the eventual user. It pertains to the movement of chilled products at a temperature typically between 2° and 8° C (36° to 46° F) or at even lower temperatures ranging all the way down to -65°C (-85°F). Specifically, cold chain transport is a temperature-controlled supply chain used in industries such as pharmaceuticals, food and beverage and chemicals.

Why Is Efficient Cold Chain Transportation Important?

The efficient management of a cold chain supply line is essential for maintaining the integrity of the product. Unlike when shipping non-perishable products such as clothing or furniture, a break in the cold chain could result in damage or spoilage that makes the product unusable.

One common example is the cold chain shipping of pharmaceuticals, many of which must be maintained at a precise temperature. A variation of more than one or two degrees could ruin an entire shipment and cost the manufacturer hundreds, thousands or even millions of dollars.

Cold Chain Logistics Overview

Cold chain logistics entails a series of activities related to the management of the temperature-controlled supply chain. These activities are intended to protect and maintain the temperature of the cargo and avoid delays in the transportation process that could result in late shipments and spoiled product. These include storage procedures, customs clearance (if shipping internationally) and the selection of the appropriate storage materials. Vaccine management is often important with the cold chain shipping of pharmaceuticals.

Finally, the use of insulated cold chain transport containers is paramount to keep the product at the appropriate temperature throughout the journey.

Active vs. Passive Cold Chain Packaging

There are two types of cold chain packaging systems: active and passive. Active systems consist of cold chain transport containers featuring advanced electric or battery-powered temperature controls. Active systems often have built-in cooling units or rely on the use of dry ice as a coolant where a system is used to push cool air from the dry ice into the main payload area. Active systems work better for larger shipments and offer greater security, which minimizes the risk of theft. On the downside, these systems can experience mechanical issues in winter if the batteries or dry ice becomes too cold.

Passive packaging systems typically include polyurethane or polystyrene insulation or vacuum-insulated panels that can keep the product at a predetermined temperature for up to 96 hours or longer. Passive systems can maintain tighter temperatures than active systems and are not susceptible to internal freezing. Disadvantages of passive systems include the need to condition the refrigerant to specific requirements and more complex shipping configurations.

Contact the Experts at Klinge to Learn More About Cold Chain Transportation

As a leading manufacturer of high-quality cold chain transport containers, Klinge Corporation can help you understand cold chain logistics and how they benefit your shipping processes. We have extensive experience in providing reliable solutions for companies in industries such as pharmaceuticals, food, military and oil and gas. Contact us for more information today.