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What is cold chain logistics

Cold chain logistics is the technology and process that allows for the safe transport of temperature-sensitive goods and products along the supply chain. It relies heavily on science to evaluate and accommodate for the link between temperature and perishability. Any product known to be or labeled “perishable” will likely need cold chain management. This could include foods like meat and seafood, produce, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.

The cold chain is thus a science, a technology, and a process. It is a science since it requires an understanding of the chemical and biological processes linked with perishability. It is a technology since it relies on physical means to ensure appropriate temperature conditions along the supply chain. It is a process since a series of tasks must be performed to prepare, store, transport, and monitor temperature-sensitive products. 

Cold chain logistics moving parts including:

Cold storage – Facilities that store goods and products waiting to be transported.Providing facilities for the storage of goods over a period of time, either waiting to be ship to a distant market, at an intermediary location for processing and distribution, and close to the market for distribution.

Cooling systems – Systems that bring food up to and keep it at an appropriate temperature during all aspects of the supply chain, including processing, storing and transporting. Bringing commodities such as food to the appropriate temperature for processing, storage, and transportation.

Cold transport – Ensures goods remain at stable temperature and humidity levels.Having conveyances available to move goods while maintaining stable temperature and humidity conditions as well as protecting their integrity.

Cold processing – Facilities that allow for processing goods with sanitation in mind.  Providing facilities for the transformation and processing of goods as well as ensuring sanitary conditions. Consolidating and deconsolidating loads (crates, boxes, pallets) for distribution.

Cold distribution – Deals with loading boxes or crates and pallets to distribute goods. 

Cold Chain Technologies-Cold chain transportation relies on several methods to keep goods at proper temperatures. How long the transport is, the size of the packaged shipment and seasonality are all factors that affect which method is used.

History of Cold chain logistics

While the idea of transportation is a relatively new concept, the transport of temperature-sensitive products really dates back to the late 1700s, when ice was used by the British to keep fish from spoiling. Late 1800s, it was used to transport perishables as well. Dairy products were transported from rural to urban areas to be sold, and due to a European meat production shortage, South America was sending frozen meat to France and Australia, while New Zealand was sending it to Great Britain. Cold chain tech has always been, and will continue to be, hugely important to global trade. 

Since the 1950s, third party logistics providers began to emerge and institute new methods for transporting global cold chain commodities. Before their emergence, cold chain processes were mostly managed in house by the manufacturer or the distributor. In the United States, Food and Drug Administration restrictions and accountability measures over the stability of the cold chain incited many of these companies to rely on specialty couriers rather than completely overhauling their supply chain facilities.

Specialization has led many companies to not only rely on major shipping service providers such as the United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx but also to a more focused industry that has developed a niche logistical expertise around the shipping of temperature-sensitive products. The potential to understand local rules, customs, and environmental conditions, as well as an estimation of the length and time of a distribution route, making them an important factor in global trade. As a result, the logistics industry is experiencing a growing level of specialization and segmentation of cold chain shipping in several potential niche markets within global supply chains. Whole new segments of the distribution industry have been very active in taking advantage of the dual development of the spatial extension of supply chains supported by globalization and the significant variety of goods in circulation.

The reliance on the cold chain continues to gain importance. Within the pharmaceutical industry, for instance, the testing, production, and movement of drugs rely heavily on controlled and uncompromised transfer of shipments. A large portion of the pharmaceutical products that move along the cold chain is in the experiment or developmental phase. Clinical research and trials are a major part of the industry that costs millions of dollars, but one that also experiences a failure rate of around 80%. About 10% of medical drugs are temperature sensitive. If these shipments should experience any unanticipated exposure to variant temperature levels, they run the risk of becoming ineffective or even harmful to patients.

In all the supply chains it is concerned with, cold chain logistics favor higher levels of integration since maintaining temperature integrity requires a higher level of control of all the processes involved. It may even incite third-party logistics providers to acquire elements of the supply chain where time and other performance factors are the most important, even farming. This may involve the acquisition of produce farms (e.g. orange groves) to ensure supply reliability. Temperature control in the shipment of foodstuffs is a component of the industry that has continued to rise in relation to international trade. As a growing number of countries focus their export economy around food and produce production, the need to keep these products fresh for extended periods of time has gained in importance for commercial and health reasons. The cold chain is also a public health issue since the proper transport of food products will reduce the likeliness of bacterial, microbial, and fungal contamination of the shipment. Also, the ability to transport medical goods over long distances enables more effective responses to healthcare issues (e.g. distribution of vaccines).

Some regulatory considerations of Cold Chain Logistics include:

Product stability




Temperature minimums

Common Cold Chain Management Issues

Common cold supply chain management issues can have a real impact on freight shipments. Drivers are typically very cognizant of these potential problems and will do their best to keep on top of them to prevent issues from arising in the first place. 

Product quality issues – For food items and produce, quality can be an issue from the start. Proper sanitizing, cleaning and sorting must be done prior to packaging and loading. 

Inadequate packaging – Important to prevent contamination and transport-related damage. Air flow can also be an issue. 

Lack of proper documentation – All steps of cold supply chain management need to be well-documented. This is especially true during transit, where data loggers that record storage temperatures and conditions can help prevent inadequate conditions from spoiling a load. 

Shipment/transport delays – Delays are an obvious issue for any shipper, but they can be particularly detrimental when dealing with cold chain logistics, since cold chain technology is time-sensitive.  

Disrupted climate control and/or temperatures – Temperature variation can be a big problem in cold chain logistics. It can result from multiple deliveries (meaning doors opening and closing often), loading food from the field, improper pre-cooling, extreme weather or other conditions like faulty cooling devices or transports. 

Therefore, the setting and operation of cold chains are dependent on the concerned supply chains since each cargo unit to be carried has different requirements in terms of location, demand, level of concentration, load integrity, and transport integrity. Because of the additional tasks involved, as well as the energy required for the refrigeration unit, transportation costs for cold chain products is much higher than regular goods. The ongoing rise in standards of living and economic specialization will remain important drivers for years to come in the growing demand for perishable goods and the cold chain logistics supporting their transport.

As a Cold Chain Logistics supplier , CIMC can provide:

CIMC Fine can provide customization temperature shipment solutions for global customers with a cost-effective service.

1.Detailed shipping SOP instructions.

2.Personalized temperature customization service.

3.Temperature strictly monitoring during shipment.

4.Extensive medical fresh food transportation experience.

5.Nationwide cold chain transportation network, with branches in 34 provincial capitals and hub cities, covers more than 2,000 cities.

6.Provide insulation box sales and rental services worldwide.

CIMC FinePE has served nearly 100 fresh e-commerce enterprises, including the domestic top ten, and won the metal of the top three excellent suppliers. 

Despite the Fresh Food shipment, CIMC FinePE also serves lots of medical customers including

1.Clinical Samples

2.Clinical Drugs


4.In vitro diagnostic reagents

5.Cell Tissue

6.Biological Products

All medical subdivisions that require high-standard cold chain transportation.


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