The advent of frozen goods is, in the grand scheme of human existence, an extremely recent one. Fridge freezers did not come about until the past few decades, and while the practice of leaving food on ice to keep it fresh harks back a number of centuries, ‘frozen goods’, as we think of them today, did not come about until the aforementioned contraptions were first devised.
Of course, once they were invented, frozen foodstuffs and beverages completely revolutionised the way edibles were packaged and distributed to shops. Because of their highly perishable and sensitive nature, these goods brought about the need for a whole new set of cargo logistics, specifically devised to deal with them.
This process became known as the ‘cold chain’, and had soon spread to all the different form of good transportation: from air cargo to road haulage and even the rapidly dwindling sea-bound shipping. cargo logistik Most of the steps implemented when this chain was first put into place continue to hold true to this day, and it is therefore apropos this article should explore cargo logistics for frozen products – as they exist at present.
What is the ‘cold chain’?
As it stands today, the cold chain is both a scientific process and a technology. It is a science insofar as it involves an understanding of chemical and biological processes, namely those that may cause perishable goods to spoil; and it is a technology since it relies on man-made physical means to ensure consistent temperatures are kept throughout the shipping process.
Said shipping process in itself has an impact in numerous areas, its effects being felt locally, regionally and, eventually, globally. As such, parties in charge of this type of transportation have to account for not only short-distance hauls, but also most often long-distance shipments carried over a number of different methods. The necessity to ensure that environments are kept consistent throughout all these means is what makes cargo logistics for the cold chain so sensitive.
Specifics of the cold chain
As the field for this sort of haul continues to develop, suggestions for short-term solutions that would simplify and streamline this process have begun to pop up, mostly encouraged by industry specialists. One of these potential solutions could be for third-party companies to seize control of certain links in the distribution chain, particularly more time-sensitive ones, in order to speed up the shipping and distribution processes. This, in turn, would help ensure the freshness of the produce throughout the chain, which is one of the major health concerns when dealing with this type of cargo.
As far as actual means used to keep the products refrigerated, these include dry ice, gel packs, liquid nitrogen or insulated quilts. These are transported inside what are commonly known as ‘reefers’ – the generic name given to any insulated vehicle especially designed for transporting frozen or chilled goods.
It is apparent, then, why cargo logistics for frozen products need to be so specific and painstakingly carried out. Nine times out of ten, freshness is key, and it is up to the parties in charge of the transportation chain to ensure it is preserved throughout.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the world’s largest neutral trading hub and cargo logistics company for trading haulage work in the express freight industry. Over 2,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe ‘wholesale’ environment.