The world is a vast place. There are regions in this world that are pretty far away from each other. Though some people might say that since this is the era of the Internet, and with the help of it, the distances between different regions of the world have become much smaller, the physical separation between these regions cannot be ignored. Sure, one can talk to anyone in the world anytime he wants with the help of the Internet, but what about transportation? The world may have progressed a lot in terms of technology, but when it comes to transporting things from one place to another, people still choose the good old-fashioned ways to transport things.
What is cold chain?
There are some things, however, which require very careful and timely transportation. Any delay can produce a negative impact on these products. Products such as vaccines, fresh agricultural food, seafood, frozen food, etc., require efficient shipping. Otherwise, due to the nature of these things, they would be of no use when they reach the desired destination. Considering these facts, businesses in the medical, food, and pharmaceutical industries are relying on the cold chain. The cold chain is a system of transporting things that require specific temperatures. It is a science, a technology, and a process. It is a science because people need to understand the chemical and biological processes which are associated with the expiration of the products. It is technology because it uses the latest advanced technology to make sure the products are used safely to their desired destination. It is a process because it requires step by step system to prepare, store and monitor those products which are temperature sensitive.
Why is cold chain used?
Cold chain is used to transport products that are temperature sensitive. Certain products require specific temperatures to ensure the freshness and the usefulness of those products. Since such products cannot be carried like other ordinary things, that is why the cold chain is used. There are a lot of countries in the world whose sole earning is through the fruits, vegetables, meat and fish products they export. If they did not have the right means of transporting these products, their economies would crash. The transportation of such products is called cold chain logistics.
When did it begin?
Though people might consider that cold chain is something that was introduced by today’s world; that is not the case. Back in 1797, British fishermen used natural ice to preserve their stocks of fish while they were at sea. In the late 1800s, movement of food, such as dairy products, from rural areas to urban areas was also done through this process. In the late 1870s and early 1880s, this process became a common practice that was adopted as a major key component of food trade between colonial powers and their colonies. France started receiving large shipments of frozen meat and meat carcasses from South America while Great Britain imported frozen beef from Australia and other meat from New Zealand.
How is cold chain used?
In providing a temperature controlled environment during transport, the following major cold chain technologies are used:
Dry ice: Dry ice is about – 80°C and it is capable of keeping a product frozen for a large amount of time. Since it does not melt when it comes in contact with air, it sublimates instead. Therefore it is especially used for the shipment of dangerous goods, pharmaceuticals, and foodstuffs.
Liquid Nitrogen: Liquid nitrogen is an exceptionally cold substance, which has a temperature of about -196 °C. Though it is considered a hazardous substance for transportation, it can keep packages frozen for an extended period of time. It is mainly used to transport biological cargo such as tissues, vaccines, and organs.
Cold storage facility: Ranging from a single temperature controlled room to a large dedicated distribution center, the cold storage facility is the most commonly used medium of cold chain logistics.
Impacts of cold chain
From a geographical perspective, we can say that the cold chain has an impact on the following three factors:
Global: Through cold chain, countries can import or export products they require. It helps them allow transporting temperature sensitive foods to markets that are far from them.
Regional: Cold chain can help transport products within the same region.
Local: Cold chain permits timely distribution to the final customers of the products, such as grocery stores or restaurants.