Consumers use a multitude of diverse products throughout their day, but rarely think about the transport industry that delivers these items to retail outlets where they are easy to obtain. Even less regarded, are the articles that require special treatment to bring them to the end-user. From delivering life-saving vaccines to clinics and hospitals to transporting live Christmas trees across many states, very dependable cold storage and transport is crucial. This is known as the cold chain, and it starts from the moment a product leaves the manufacturer to the moment that delivery is made to the end-user.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/vac-storage.pdf, vaccines must be kept at the correct temperature while in transport and during storage to maintain their potency. This is critical, since entire populations could be at risk of disease if not for vaccines that work, as they should. Additionally, a large scientific community relies on cold chain management to handle its biomaterials storage and transportation issues. Cold chain providers may even supply storage after the products arrive at their destination.
Technology, in the cold chain family of industries, spans a wide range of products and services, and engineers continuously brainstorm for better designs, methods and cost-effective solutions. Thermodynamics play an important role for engineers who are responsible for designing new and improved refrigerants, insulated thermal containers and packaging methods. Where foods, pharmaceuticals, biomedical and life sciences are concerned, all cold chain processes must adhere to standard Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP,) as well as Good Transportation Practices (GTP,) both of which are under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)
Logistics could present a plethora of concerns, if not for the expertise of companies who play big roles in cold chain management. First, a plan is made that integrates the various handlers in a product’s transport, and then it is streamlined to be sure that cost-effectiveness is balanced with safety, lead-times and dependable service. In addition, most products call for their own unique system to manage their cold chain needs. A continually changing world, which welcomes new varieties of imported food products, calls for new cold transfer policies to be determined and implemented.
Specially designed refrigerants for packing offer the best thermal protection for the products they keep cold, and they are made to fit any product’s shipping configuration. Slim brick-shaped refrigerants have hermetic seals, are puncture-resistant and they stay cold the longest. Other refrigerant’s are made from phase change material that mimics the freezing and melting points of the products it protects. The results are size and weight reductions, which directly affects freight prices.
Certain products, such as bags of human blood for research or hospital emergency use, require auditable records of the blood’s temperature during its storage and transport. This is accomplished with industry temperature indicators and recorders, which comply with regulatory rules. Furthermore, freeze points and other thermal dynamics are adjustable to fit custom specifications for management of ultra-sensitive human and animal tissue, despite fluctuating outdoor temperatures.