With its capital-intensive equipment, strict temperature requirements, and energy dependence, the cold chain has always been a demanding logistics segment. Now the sector is grappling with additional challenges—from increases in the sensitivity, quality standards, and volume of many of its goods, to continually mounting regulations.
The cold chain also faces many of the same issues challenging the entire supply chain: serving the global market, driving out costs, becoming more strategic, and addressing capacity and resource constraints, all while managing the exacting needs of the sector’s precious cargo—primarily food and pharmaceutical products.
Here are 10 trends impacting the cold chain, and some strategies manufacturers and logistics service providers use to adapt and thrive.
Cold chains are becoming more global.
Demand for fresh food is growing, and that requires increased innovation to overcome capacity and infrastructure constraints, and mitigate disruption risks to ensure quality delivery
In pharmaceuticals, added product specialization and sensitivity means they are more often being shipped globally to reach their markets.
An increasing focus on quality and product sensitivity.
In the food industry, the big trend is an increased focus on quality, health, and integrity.
For cold chain products, that means avoiding the changes in texture and taste that occur when a shipment strays outside recommended temperatures.
Regulation is on the rise.
Globalization and an increase in the number of food safety and pharma counterfeit incidents are prompting governments to tighten regulations on production and supply chains.
Getting out ahead of such regulation is a common theme across cold chain logistics.
Market pressures drive demand for supply chain efficiency.
The need to operate a Lean supply chain is even more acutely felt when every step faces the additional requirement of refrigeration and compliance.
Driver shortages and capacity constraints are hitting the cold chain especially hard.
Manufacturers are outsourcing more processes to 3PLs.
Shipper demand for efficiency, visibility, and product freshness is driving cold chain 3PLs to add a wide range of value-added services.
Cold chain is experiencing some mode shifting.
Fuel price fluctuations and globalization have driven some cold chain operators to shift modes from truckload to intermodal, or from air to ocean. Other factors contributing to mode shift include truck driver and capacity shortages, and sustainability initiatives.
Sustainability initiatives are driving investment.
Cold chain operators are looking for new ways to balance the energy-intensive requirements of perishable products with the desire to reduce resource consumption.
Packaging is evolving to meet new needs.
Food manufacturers are turning to newer disposable packaging designs to ensure integrity for more sensitive products. Reusable containers are also seeing increased use in both food and pharmaceutical logistics to reduce waste, and some companies are embracing greener packaging materials.
Technology investment remains critical.
Like all supply chains, cold chain operators must continually upgrade technology to ensure efficiency, integrity, and safety. This includes both back-end IT infrastructure and front-end devices to gather and report key shipment data in real time.
Customer habits persist as the cold chain’s weakest link.
Ensuring pharmaceuticals, food, and other chilled goods retain their integrity and safety remains a moving target for cold chain operators. Globalization, tightening regulation, and changing consumer demand continue to alter the scope of the task, while driving the need for technology, efficiency, and security.
PIMM™ Cold Chain Management (CCM) provides “end to end visibility” for your cold chain. The system monitors, analyzes and manages the entire distribution process from supplier plants, 3rd party carriers, 3rd party cold storage/distribution centers, outbound delivery fleet and in-store cold storage.
PIMM™ Cold Chain Management (CCM) collects and analyzes valuable cold storage information and shares any/all relevant corrective actions with the appropriate supply chain partners. Real-time process management allows for a more effective cold chain process which extends “shelf life”, reduces rejections/returns, improves quality and enhances customer satisfaction at all levels.
To learn more about The PIMM™ Cold Chain Management, please follow this link or call us today (858)457-8160.