With growing demand and new emerging markets for perishable goods, the need for temperature-controlled packaging and cold chain logistics is on the rise. This in part due to the increase in demand for things like fresh foods, flowers, temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and several other perishable goods. The need for doorstep delivery has seen the need for developing technologies and services to match these demands. Then, as is often the case with perishable goods, there are legitimate concerns about the safety of the goods themselves and also the methods used for preservation. Consumers have a very vague idea of the methods used for conserving these goods and whether or not they are safe to use.
Perishable goods require stringent observance for preservation. They need specific temperature ranges within which they remain safe for usage and consumption. This holds true for any perishable good, be it a medical item or things that are meant for consumption. They require extremely accurate temperature control and equally particular storage and transportation practices.
The idea behind temperature-controlled packaging is to ensure that the product lasts for the duration of its consumable life. In some instances, the perishable good cannot be transported and hence, it is packaged. Some of the types of materials used for temperature-controlled packaging are as follows:
1. Heating elements like drum heaters and electrically powered heating blankets
2. Insulating materials like textiles, styrofoam and particular types of plastics.
3. Phase changing materials like refrigerant gel packs and dry ice.
Logistics that specialises in the preservation, storage and transportation of perishable goods can be termed as temperature-controlled logistics. A temperature change can be catastrophic for certain goods, and the need to maintain that temperature even in the last-mile delivery process is crucial. This is where the packaging also plays a pivotal role.
Types of temperature-controlled logistics
Given the increasing demand for temperature-controlled logistics, there has been a propagation of different types of modes of transporting these perishable items. It has already developed into a very competitive field and is quickly expanding and growing even more competitive. Some of the most noted modes of transportation are:
1. Refrigerated trailers and warehouses - This is generally a preferred method for goods that need to be closely monitored. Technologies have been developed even to track and monitor the temperature of goods mid-travel. Warehouses are generally positioned in areas that are between cities to facilitate easier movement of good to nearby cities.
2. Shipping containers - There are two types of shipping containers - active and passive. The active containers are essentially battery-powered refrigerators that are used for large freight cargo onboard air shipping services. Passive containers use a combination of insulating materials and electronics to maintain the required cooling range. They are highly effective for short-range transport and are therefore used most commonly in road transport.
3. Dry Ice - Ever wondered what Carbon Dioxide is good for other than environmental pollution? Well, dry ice. It’s not without its dangers, but it can also be used for shipping. However, it has to be handled carefully and requires regulation.
4. Temperature-controlled air freight - When It comes to temperature-controlled logistics, air freight is the most common and the reasons are fairly obvious. It is the quickest mode of transport, one of the largest, fastest and also relatively obstacle-free. But handling temperature-controlled air freight requires very specialised and trained handling. Also, there are several steps to making the product reach to and from the aircraft to the consumer
5. Temperature-controlled sea freight - While air freight is commonly used, the market for sea freight for temperature-controlled transportation is increasing. This is a lot to do with rising air freight costs but also the fact that sea freight faces fewer changes in temperature and therefore, the cold chain for products will be maintained.