Jul 25 2018
Cold Chain: Maximizing the Efficiency of the Last Mile
The last mile. Some say the Latin translation for Last Mile is “The black hole of inefficiency and cost that plagues the supply chain.” Frustrating enough already, dealing with the challenges inherent in the last mile become increasingly problematic when you’re dealing with cold chain logistics. Brake pads and frozen fish tend to react differently to extended stays in a container.
The last mile in cold chain logistics is particularly important because of the nature of cold chain products. Inefficiency on the last mile risks not only customer and delivery satisfaction, but product spoilage — and that spells lost reputation and profit.
While completely solving the puzzle of the last mile may plague the logistics industry for a while yet, there are a few measures you and your Cold Chain partner can take now to maximize efficiency and ensure customer satisfaction.
Proactive Temperature Control
How can we get ahead of the potential cost and waste of the last mile? Start thinking ahead — far ahead.
Diligence in maintaining the temperature of cold chain devices is key, obviously, but preparing shipments for the most efficient last mile doesn’t stop there. Cold chain devices are made to keep temperatures for storage and shipment constant, but they’re generally not made to bring a shipment down to the proper temperature. Pre-cooling using special equipment/facilities will make a reefer container all the more effective in maintaining a set temperature.
With this in mind, simply being prepared with your shipments at the right storage temperature as soon as possible will increase the efficiency of your cold chain’s last mile. The packaging of your shipments becomes crucial as materials designed to optimize temperature preservation are going to do better than generic boxes and crates.
Sure, the cold chain devices in question might be able to preserve the integrity of the shipment that wasn’t adequately cooled, but if the temperature rises or a delivery takes longer than it should, you risk product and profit both. Thinking ahead will vastly increase the efficiency of the last mile by giving your temperature sensitive products more of a buffer against fluctuations.
Mode of Transport
Once your temperature-sensitive shipment is adequately packaged and cooled, the freight needs to move.
In addition to the distance being travelled and the size and weight considerations inherent to any logistics procedures, the cold chain has special interior and exterior temperature concerns.
Moving products between short distances on cool or average days might call for insulated trucks or vans, while hot days may require a reefer truck with its own power source to ensure the integrity of your goods. A quality cold chain partner will know what works best for your goods.
Mitigate Processing Delays
More than any other aspect of the supply chain, the cold chain is time sensitive. Unfortunately, we can’t always control every aspect of the delivery of our goods. Customs procedures vary widely on how long they’ll take depending on time of day, geographical location, and transportation method.
If the last mile for your cold chain involves clearing customs, there are some things you can do to increase efficiency, even when most parts of the customs procedure are out of your hands.
Your cold chain partner will be in contact with the steamship lines and the port gathering information and arranging the timely movement of your goods. Regardless of time of day, a seasoned cold chain partner will ensure a speedy transition from ship to chassis to the exit gate at the port and onward. This can include delivering at off-peak times, taking alternate routes, and securing additional cold storage space to best match the operating environment to the unique needs of your products.
Onward and Upward
A strong cold chain partner who understands the key factors driving global growth is critical for your operational success. Those factors include but are not limited to:
· International trade
· Storage and transport technology
· Infrastructure improvements
· Consumer demand
· Growth of multinational food retail chains
By partnering with a knowledgeable and trusted cold chain logistics provider, your growth will be hot while your goods remain cold.