As the global economy changes and continues to put demands on various multinational companies, international aid and relief efforts, and consistent military supply lines; the idea of a constant cold chain supply line is nothing new. Cold storage was once thought of as the ice box in the cellar, yet with the increasing global demands, the process of shipping fresh produce, meat and consumer goods over long distances has developed.
The need to establish a cold chain for produce transport is critical to providing a viable commodity over long distances. As fruits and vegetables are harvested they are at their peak freshness immediately afterwards. However, all plant material continues to live after nutrient transfer is ceased. This is completed by oxidizing various parts of the fruit or vegetable itself. Much like a human will consume their fat stores when starving, so do plants. This self-consuming mechanism obviously destroys the viability of the produce. This process can be slowed greatly by cooling the produce to stop these metabolic processes both within and outside of the produce. If the produce is meant for shipping, the cold chain process should begin directly after harvest, because as soon as an item is harvested, its shelf life begins. Thus rapid cooling upon harvesting is necessary.
Part of the metabolic processes after harvest is the physiological respiratory process that requires oxygen and produces heat and carbon dioxide, therefore requiring an effective ventilation system to remove those effects and replenish the oxygen. Proper ventilation will remove trapped pockets of these gases that would contribute to the produces decay.
Pharmaceutical Cold Chains
The pharmaceutical industry is another industry that requires continuous cold chain ability. Certain chemical compositions require constant temperature, humidity and ventilation control in order to maintain the viability of the drugs, vaccines or antidotes in transport. This is especially important to aid and relief areas when transporting vaccines to a disease or viral epidemic affected area. Since all vaccines are temperature controlled until use it is especially important for proper cold chain management to ensure the effective health of the worlds population.
The most important part of the cold chain process is establishing a proper validation chain. This part of the cold chain ensures that the proper elements such as temperature, humidity and ventilation were maintained throughout the entire transport process. This requires proper management of the process from all parties involved in the transport. Validation, in essence, should be a constant process throughout the transport process. This has become easier with radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) with temperature sensors. Ensure proper validation in a cold chain to insure the product is delivered within set parameters.
Using a cold chain has become imperative for certain products and in certain industries. It is not simply enough to have a cold storage solution. Companies need to continue to develop cold chain strategies, management guidelines, validation controls and standard operating procedures to insure the health and viability of temperature sensitive materials.
Whether you are shipping produce, meat products or highly sensitive chemical formulations, effective and high quality cold storage is as necessary as the cold chain processes that you have in place. For more information, please visit: Cold Storage In Hong Kong
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