The cold chain is of great significance because it concerns the transportation of perishable assets like fresh foodstuffs and pharmaceutical goods. The nature of such items means that the timing and condition of their delivery is essential to preserving their value.

If cold chain assets aren’t kept safe and aren’t delivered to their destination efficiently, then this equates to considerable financial losses. Unfortunately, there are a number of challenges that fleet managers in the cold chain industry have to overcome to ensure that this isn’t the case.

In this piece, we’ll explore the most common issues in cold chain logistics including how fleet managers can reliably address them.

1. Human error

Human error in the cold chain typically refers to mishandling of the refrigeration units. Cold chain equipment is complex and requires training to configure correctly. At some point during a journey, a driver will have to operate these units, and this is where mistakes can occur. 

For instance, if the driver sets the temperature incorrectly by a decimal point, then this can lead to cargo spoilage, resulting in rejection by the receiver. Similarly, a driver must be familiar with the various alarm codes to know how to identify an issue before responding accordingly. Therefore, fleet managers must ensure that each of their drivers are adequately trained and familiar with the cargo container’s operation.

2. Equipment failure

As mentioned, cold chain refrigeration units are complicated pieces of technology, and this means that they can experience malfunctions. Several malfunctions usually seen in refrigeration units include fluid leaks, calibration errors, sensor failures, and internal damage over time. If these issues are not promptly resolved then they can disrupt the temperature control within the unit which, in turn, will jeopardise the integrity of the cargo, ultimately resulting in spoiled goods.

3. Temperature fluctuations

Climate control is one of the most vital aspects of a cold chain. Temperature fluctuations within a trailer can lead to frozen foods thawing, fresh produce expiring, or pharmaceutical chemicals spoiling. For this reason, a consistent temperature must be maintained within the fleet vehicle itself throughout the entire transportation process, including during loading and unloading. This is where regulated packaging becomes integral.

4. Poor documentation

In cold chain logistics, it’s crucial that every stage of a product's journey can be traced. The consequences of poor documentation total as a higher risk of illnesses alongside damage to the goods themselves. Moreover, a lack of traceability may expose you to fines and penalties if an authority finds that your cold chain cargo procedures are non-compliant with their regulations.

5. Compliance breaches

On the back of the last point, regulatory bodies for the cold chain industry are getting more and more strict by the day regarding temperature control, reporting, and traceability. Again, if fleets which transport temperature-sensitive goods do not comply with the rules that are in place and stay up-to-date on changes, then they will incur hefty fines and reputational damage. The impact of such aspects is difficult to recover from, and so it’s paramount that compliance is ensured at all times.

How to Overcome Cold Chain Challenges

Just these five challenges alone represent large obstacles in cold chain logistics. As such, fleet managers are required to have purpose-built tools which work to eliminate them. We at MICHELIN Connected Fleet understand first hand the effort needed to secure efficiency in the cold chain industry, and is precisely why we have developed solutions which cover fleet managers from all angles. 

The above problems are directly solved by our connected temperature monitoring solutions which provide you with an awareness of your cargo’s temperature at all times, allow you to adapt to different temperature zones, easily prove compliance to end customers, and be alerted if an incident happens so that you can quickly maintain your load integrity.

If you're interested in understanding how our cold chain solutions can specifically benefit you, please don't hesitate to make an enquiry today. Our service also includes a consultative approach, ensuring that you always have assistance readily available.