IT & Operations

Webinar: Managing the Cool Chain

October 10, 2013

There are a lot of challenges when transporting products that are sensitive to temperature changes. Edwin W. Kalischnig is Secretary General of the Cool Chain Association. During a webinar on October 17th he talked about these challenges and some of the solutions.

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

What is Cool Chain Management?

“Cool Chain or Temperature-Sensitive Supply Chain refers to the subset of the total supply chain that involves the production, storage and distribution of products that require some level of temperature control in order to retain their key characteristics and associated value e.g. food, flowers, pharmaceutical & healthcare products.
One common temperature range for pharmaceutical products is 2-8 oC degrees, that’s a tight range.”

More handovers, more risks

What are the challenges when transporting perishables ?

“Variations in temperature can transform modern medical miracles into useless material or oppose threats on the food we eat. The more handovers there are when transporting the products, the bigger the risks. What happens when products are held up by customs or if a plane is delayed and the products are already on the airstrip? Do you move the products? Even if it’s a short delay? The temperature in a reefer on a ship is better to control, but transport by air is faster. Risk management becomes crucial."

Communications can be better

What can be done?

“Research from the Jacobs University of Bremen shows losses of up to 30% because of temperature deviations in the Cool Chain, but there is a lot that can be done to reduce this number. The Cool Chain Association - where I’m the Secretary General of - is a non-profit organization with the aim to reduce wastage and improve the quality, efficiency and value of the temperature sensitive supply chain by facilitating and enabling vertical & horizontal collaboration, education and innovation amongst our members and stakeholders. One of the things that should for example be better is the communication between the different companies in the chain and understanding where and why things go wrong. New technologies can help, but innovations have to be checked before they can be used. What is the effect of the radio waves from RFID on active ingredients in drugs or on the equipment of an airplane? That has to researched before using the technology.
Once available, new solutions can provide exciting new opportunities. The University of Hamburg for example developed an algorithm that can calculate the remaining shelf-life of a product, based on the temperature history. So instead of First-In-First-Out (FIFO) or LIFO, we can now support “First-Expired-First-Out” (FEFO) logistics processes which may have an effect on all the players involved.
Billions of dollars are at risk as perishables and health-science products move through the global chain, so the stakes are high. During this webinar I’ll talk more about solutions and innovations for this challenging piece of Supply Chain Management.”

Comment
You can comment on the article above. Comments will be moderated and appear after it is approved.