Four Considerations When Choosing a Cold Chain Shipping Supplier

In a world where global trade and the distribution of temperature-sensitive goods have become the norm, the role of cold chain shipping suppliers has never been more crucial. Whether transporting pharmaceuticals, perishable foods, or other temperature-sensitive products, selecting the right cold chain shipping partner is a decision that can significantly impact the integrity and safety of your shipment. These are key considerations you should have to choose the best cold chain shipping supplier for your organization.

Temperature Control Technology

The heart of any cold chain operation lies in its ability to maintain the desired temperature throughout the entire journey. That includes both planned journey and unplanned – “hiccups” can and will happen, emphasizing how important it is to prepare for every potential deviation. It’s imperative to assess the technology employed by the shipping supplier. Look for suppliers that utilize advanced temperature control systems, ensuring a consistent and accurate environment for your temperature sensitive materials for the duration of its travel, plus built in time for any accidental delays. 

Look for suppliers that provide products that can be customized to reach and maintain varying temperatures depending on the requirements of the payload. Dry ice, ice packs or refrigerated vehicles have the potential to meet the temperature requirements of your payload, but you should also consider reliability. Look for refrigeration methods that can maintain those temperatures through the last mile, like phase change materials (PCMs) and thermal packaging. Depending on your payload, you may need to keep your contents temperature to and through its drop off location.

Reliability and Track Record

Reliability is paramount when it comes to cold chain logistics. Research the track record of potential suppliers, examining their data on temperature consistency as well as longevity of those temperatures. Not only do you want to examine the reliability of the products, but also the people you are potentially partnering with – you want a partner, not just a product. Pick up the phone or shoot them an email to gage how open they are to discussing your unique temperature and shipping needs. Most cold chain solutions are not a one size fits all. Your supplier should take your payload’s unique temperature sensitive needs into consideration and can create the optimal environment for them in order to achieve the most precise and longest lasting temperature results. 

Do your research or ask if the supplier has ever provided products or worked in your industry. Finding a supplier that has experience creating shipping environments for multiple different industries, especially your own, proves that they have knowledge and experience meeting the needs of your temperature sensitive materials. 

Flexibility and Scalability

Your business needs may evolve, requiring flexibility and scalability from your cold chain shipping partner. Ensure that the supplier can accommodate changes in shipment volume or specific requirements. A flexible and scalable provider can adapt to the dynamic nature of your supply chain.

Environmental Sustainability

As environmental concerns become more prominent, choosing a shipping supplier with a commitment to sustainability is increasingly important. Look for providers that employ eco-friendly practices, such as energy-efficient transportation methods and sustainable packaging solutions. 

Although it is one of the most common methods of refrigeration, using dry ice is not one of the most sustainable. It is a hazardous material that releases CO2, a greenhouse gas affecting climate change, into the environment. 

“Accounting for almost 80 percent of global human-caused emissions, carbon dioxide sticks around for quite a while,” according to Melissa Denchak a contributor to the National Resources Defense Council. “Once it’s emitted into the atmosphere, 40 percent still remains after 100 years, 20 percent after 1,000 years, and 10 percent as long as 10,000 years later.”

Not only is it dangerous to the environment, but it can also be dangerous for anyone who is handling it, making transportation a hassle. Fortunately, there are green alternatives to dry ice, such a PCMs, that not only are recyclable and reusable, but also non-toxic and safe to handle. 

Selecting a cold chain shipping supplier is a critical decision that demands careful consideration of various factors. By prioritizing these factors, you can ensure that your temperature-sensitive cargo is handled with the utmost care and precision. A well-chosen cold chain partner is not just a logistics provider but a strategic ally in maintaining the integrity of your products throughout the entire supply chain.