Temperature-controlled shipments ensure that the specific cold chain for the product is followed and the goods reach the next point in the production or delivery sequence with the desired quality level. This not only applies to food or its intermediate products like the lactic acid bacteria mentioned in the report. It is particularly relevant for medicines, as the current discussion about the distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations illustrates. Sensitive substances like cosmetics, paints or varnishes can place similarly high demands on logistics operations. The issue here is not always refrigeration either. Many substances, e.g. chocolate, oils and fats, must be heated when they are transported. Shipments of fresh goods, on the other hand, normally require end-to-end refrigeration or even deep-freeze conditions. Shipments down to minus 20 degrees are most commonly required. But the temperature needed may drop to minus 60 or even minus 70 degrees, as the practical example involving DuPont or even the Covid-19 vaccinations show.
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The Rhenus subsidiary, Rhenus Intermodal Systems, has been handling highly sensitive, ultra-cold shipments for US chemicals corporation DuPont de Nemours since 2012. The company requires an end-to-end cold chain of between minus 55 and minus 60 degrees Celsius. Specially manufactured reefers, in which frosty Siberian temperatures are maintained, make this possible.
These shipments for DuPont involve temperature-sensitive cultures for the food industry – starter cultures that are mainly used in the dairy industry, e.g. for making yoghurt and cheese. They have to survive transportation between production sites and warehouses all over the world without sustaining any damage. The deep-frozen cargo is stowed in special reefers and hoisted onto truck trailer chassis. Permanently monitored cooling units maintain the target temperature.
‘The organisms are very valuable and expensive. That’s why DuPont was looking for a reliable transport service provider, which would precisely implement the special requirements,’ says Bastian Vogt, an International Key Account Manager at Rhenus. The truck drivers used for these shipments have therefore received special training. ‘They actively monitor and control the equipment along the routes at the prescribed checkpoints. There is also an emergency GPS tracking system to provide support. We have 100 percent delivery reliability for this ultra-cold business,’ Vogt adds.
‘The routes are permanently defined, the drivers have to report back regularly and may only go to specified fuel stations,’ Vogt explains. If a problem emerges with the cargo, the driver, customer and dispatcher are immediately informed by text message via a GPS alarm system. ‘We had a case like this once. A temperature deviation occurred because of a faulty container. We were able to respond quickly thanks to the alarm system and protect the freight,’ Vogt reports. The logistics specialist company naturally also benefited from its enormous experience in shipping temperature-controlled goods in this situation – for many customers in various sectors.
What are the main issues involved when transporting substances that require a cold chain? ‘Their reliability depends on several factors and particularly ensuring that they dovetail perfectly,’ says Vogt. He summarises the four most important points once again:
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