Cold Chain Logistics: Trends to Expect This Year
While globalization has made the relative distance between regions of the world much smaller, the physical separation of these regions is still a reality. The greater the physical separation, the more likely the chances of the freight being damaged while they are in-transit. The goods can either be damaged by shocks or from undue temperature variations. For a range of goods labeled as perishables, particularly food and pharma products, the quality degrades with time. This is where cold chain logistics comes to the rescue by helping in transporting temperature sensitive products, ensuring that they do not get perished or damaged, and stay fresh for longer periods of time. However, with its strict temperature requirements, capital-intensive equipment, and higher energy dependence, cold chain logistics has always been a demanding segment in the logistics industry. Here are some of the trends to watch out for in the cold chain logistics industry this year:
Turning data into insights
The logistics industry has slowly started acknowledging the power of data and how it can turn around their business. Cold chain logistics is greatly benefiting from the power of data analytics, artificial intelligence and deep learning, which helps in quickly and accurately collecting data from multiple sources and then converting that information into actionable knowledge. Furthermore, IoT applications provide a comprehensive view of their operations and the extended logistics chain, enabling more precise control over the operations.
Packaging is a crucial factor in ensuring the efficiency of cold chain logistics. This is because the packaging decides the safety and freshness of the contents until it reaches the end-user. Food manufacturers are turning to newer disposable packaging designs to ensure the integrity of highly sensitive products. Green packaging and reusable containers are being increasingly adopted in both food and pharmaceutical logistics to reduce waste.
In recent times, there has been an increase in the number of food safety and pharma counterfeit incidents. Such occurrences are prompting governments to establish stricter regulations on the production and supply chains. Establishing preventive measures and harmonizing regulations are major concerns for industries like pharma and food that deal in sensitive products. Getting ahead of such regulations is a common theme across the cold chain logistics industry. Manufacturers are incorporating more stringent practices into to meet the changing requirements.
Quality and product sensitivity
There is an increased focus on quality, health, and integrity in industries like food and pharma, which heavily depend on cold chain logistics. To win the repeat business and meet the rising customer demands, manufacturers must ensure an optimal experience with the brand. For cold chain logistics companies that means avoiding the wastage of goods when a shipment strays outside the recommended temperatures and ensuring that they are delivered within a stipulated period of time.
Due to fuel price fluctuations and globalization, operators in the cold chain logistics industry are forced to shift modes from truckload to intermodal, or from air to ocean. Furthermore, factors such as truck driver and capacity shortages, and sustainability initiatives are some of the other factors giving rise of the mode shift in cold chain logistics. Hence, now it is essential for manufacturers of chilled and frozen goods to balance the additional time these modes may take with speed-to-market requirements.