Another tip is to shoot for improved loading and unloading. In many cases, the loading dock is cited as the weakest link in the cold storage supply chain. Some experts think that the loading and receiving practices of warehouse providers pose the biggest threat to temperature-sensitive items.
“The temperature of the docks, coupled with the time spent on the dock, can affect the integrity of the product,” says Witte. “A clear practice to minimize the amount of time the product is kept on the dock and not in the controlled temperature of the storage area is essential.”
Witte also recommends that the loading dock’s temperature should always be checked against customer requirements prior to loading or unloading.
It’s also helpful to pre-cool trailers before loading. Putting a temperature-sensitive product in to a trailer that’s not pre-cooled is a recipe for disaster. Prior to loading a trailer, it should be checked to ensure that the refrigeration unit is running so that it’s pre-cooled to the appropriate temperature. Trailer temperatures can be regularly monitored using trailer temperature recorders. If you have any doubts about a trailer’s performance, ask to see a temperature history.
Take the time to check product temperatures as well. Running random temperature checks on shipments can tell you whether a product was at the agreed upon temperature the entire time it was shipped, says WOW Logistics’ Schlapman. He recommends looking for telltale signs of temperature changes, such as condensation on a stretch-wrapped product.
Schlapman also sees a benefit in using product temperature monitors. “We have one customer that randomly puts temperature sensors on products,” he says. “They can tell whether the product spiked above or below the required temperature. And, they can also tell whether the driver turned off the refrigerator to save on fuel costs.”
Finally, make sure to manage supply chain information. Operating a world-class cold supply chain is about information management, emphasizes OHL’s Battle. “The flow of information about freight is just as important as the movement of freight,” he says. “Understanding when, where, and how your shipments are moving is integral to managing a best-in-class cold supply chain.” d
Pasquale Russo is a writer, ghostwriter, and copywriter living in New Jersey.