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Cold Chain Custody: The Role of Temperature Loggers and Visibility

August 13, 2022

September 28, 2022

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x min read

Cold chain custody is a big deal when you consider that even a slight dip in temperature might be the difference between freezing an entire load of asparagus or spoiling 42,000 pounds of eggs. That’s why shippers who transport their goods in refrigerated vans or containers ensure that their transportation providers maintain the correct temperature setting throughout the entire journey of the shipment. 

Logistics personnel usually follow a few pre-loading protocols before loading the product onto a truck. The most basic is ensuring that the truck’s reefer temperature matches the cooling order on the bill of lading (BOL). However, after the truck is loaded and gone, most shippers lack true cold chain visibility needed to check the conditions of their product while inside the truck during transportation.

This article will explore the importance of cold chain custody and how temperature loggers can help shippers gain the visibility they need to ensure their load arrives without having their product rejected. It will cover the types of industries that need to practice cold chain custody procedures and how modern temperature loggers can help industry leaders gain more insight into the status of their loads.

What is Cold Chain Custody?

Every shipment of perishable commodities poses certain risks for shippers during transportation. That’s why companies depend on cold chain custody, a supply chain process that ensures products maintain an uninterrupted level of refrigeration during the entire journey of a load from cold storage to the customer. There are many different ways that shippers approach cold chain custody, ranging from having manual cold chain audits to more innovative cloud-enabled temperature loggers that are embedded directly inside each truckload and provide customizable updates.  

The Importance of Cold Chain Custody

Logistics professionals are responsible for ensuring that each shipment of time-sensitive perishable goods arrives without spoilage or damage. Rejected product cuts into profit margins, contributes to end-of-year transportation costs, and affects how customers adequately stock their inventory. Product rejection is an unfortunate reality within refrigerated transportation, and the side effects it causes are generally the reason why shippers create cold chain custody policies in the first place. By design, these policies serve as a measure to improve quality control throughout every touchpoint within the supply chain and reduce the potential of lost revenue.

What Industries Need to Know About Cold Chain Custody

Any company with a regular volume of loads requiring refrigerated trailers or containers should familiarize themselves with cold chain custody. The most common sectors that implement this industry-wide practice involve companies from:

  • Fresh Produce
  • Food and Beverages
  • Meat and Dairy
  • Seafood
  • Flowers
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Biochemical

Common Cold Chain Custody Procedures & Their Limitations

Shipping managers implement their own strategies to maintain cold chain custody throughout the entire journey of a shipment. To ensure that products are loaded at the correct temperature, shippers often follow a few basic pre-loading protocols on site, like checking the truck’s reefer temperature and the cooling order to make sure the conditions match. Shippers often rely on manual processes for cold chain custody, such as having the driver scribble down the current reefer temperature every few hours onto a cold chain custody form. This document is usually signed by the driver and submitted with the BOL when the load is delivered.

The most common method of cold chain custody involves hiring a team of workers who monitor all inbound and outbound shipments. Their jobs usually involve calling or emailing carrier partners to ensure the drivers submit photos that verify the reefer temperature before they are loaded and gone. They also remind drivers to keep their reefer set on continuous rather than start-stop. The hope is that the driver will communicate any potential issues while in transit; however, more often than not, it’s only after delivery that shippers learn there was an issue.

The problem with manual processes is that even if a reefer is set at the right temperature, the product can still get damaged due to equipment or mechanical failures. Sometimes, products can end up damaged due to carriers who fail to properly calibrate their reefers. This might result in faulty temperature readings or worse—a dreaded reefer breakdown. 

Another problematic scenario involves equipment damaged during unloading. For example, a driver might not notice the damage if a forklift operator accidentally rips the reefer chute on a truck while unloading a pallet at the receiver.  On the next load they take, the receiver reports a few pallets of fresh produce with frostbite caused by cold air blowing from the reefer directly onto the product. Usually, it is only after shippers file an insurance claim that these types of problems come to light. But by then, the damage has already been done, resulting in lost time, wasted fuel, and transportation expenses that work against company profit margins.

Real Cold Chain Custody Solutions

Shippers are turning to more modern solutions to gain cold chain visibility and offset the risks of hauling temperature-controlled freight. The most dependable and cost-effective way shippers optimize their cold chain custody is by using temperature loggers that capture, at regular intervals, the trailer or container conditions from the moment the load is picked up and during the long haul to the receiver. These cloud-based loggers, in the form of a flexible label, adhere directly to the shipment. They are reusable, earth-friendly, battery-operated devices with sensors that conveniently allow shippers to capture and store the temperature recordings of each shipment. The reusable, paper-thin devices can detect temperature excursions at the moment when they occur, automatically notifying shippers that a problem was detected. This technology enables shippers the opportunity to communicate with their broker or carrier partners and alert them of the deviation. Modern temperature loggers are an end-to-end solution for shippers looking to gain actual cold chain visibility for their supply chain.

By investing in cost-effective technology to optimize cold chain visibility, shippers can streamline their cold chain operations and eliminate the time spent manually updating temperatures. Temperature loggers also empower shippers to monitor their cold chain and help create a digital and downloadable cold chain audit for each load, helping to eliminate instances of rejected truckloads due to damage or spoilage.

Trusting your transportation provider is essential for maintaining the most efficient service and dependable truck capacity when you need it. Equally important is the ability for shippers to have total visibility and the assurance that their shipments will make it to their destination without any issues. Tive ensures that shipments arrive on time and in full. Their product line offers practical and affordable solutions for shippers, retailers, cold storage facilities, and last mile providers to track, trace, and monitor their shipments. 

Tive helps eliminate service failures, product rejection, and insurance claims often happening to shippers. Stop thinking retroactively about your cold chain custody process. Take advantage of temperature loggers that customers from various global industries use as a cost-effective solution to optimize their cold chain custody.

Maintaining Cold Chain Custody Made Easy: Stick → Tap with Your Phone → Ship! 

With Tive Tag temperature loggers, you can capture and store the temperature of global shipments easier and more cost-effectively than ever before. Simply stick the reusable, paper-thin Tive Tag on any shipment, activate it using the companion app on your Android or iPhone, and then release the shipment. From that moment on, the Tag tracks cold chain custody throughout the shipment’s journey. The tag records temperature data at regular intervals, storing it in the cloud for easy accessibility using the Tive Tag app. This solution not only helps secure the safety and quality of your products, it also provides an audit trail for your compliance needs. To learn more about this latest cold chain shipment visibility innovation from Tive, visit tive.com/tag today.

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