Summer Heat vs. Cold Storage

Jun 17, 2021Blog, Supply Chain Management

Summer is officially here, which means regions across the nation are beginning to feel the impact of summer heat.

While this may be a reason for a lot of people to celebrate, for cold-storage supply chains, the summer brings a whole host of new issues brought on by the higher temperatures. Add to this the demand for intensely cold or cryogenic reefer containers for COVID-19 vaccines, and you’ve got quite a bit of stress on one section of the supply chain.

With warmer months on the way, let’s take a closer look at how a cold supply chain can be affected by the sweltering heat of summer.

Insulation Frustration

Nowadays, most reefer containers are built to withstand intense temperatures. A mix of cooling system options paired with better insulation means the cargo inside the container is kept safe from the grueling heat.

However, the outside of these containers are subject to the sun, just like any other cargo. While technology has progressed enough to ensure the contents stay cool, refrigeration systems need to kick into overdrive to make it happen. That means extra operating costs, even if the cargo is completely on schedule. With these containers working overtime to stay cool, maintenance becomes more likely, which also begins to add to a mounting overall cost.

When every reefer container in an entire supply chain needs extra power, an organization is looking at a potential huge increase in operating costs, just due to the weather.

Delay Dangers

Sometimes, a rough situation gets worse. If a carrier breaks down in sweltering temperatures, cold storage can be left in less-than-ideal weather for an extended period of time. This could easily result in refrigeration failure, which would spoil all cargo inside the container.

Because of all of the added costs and strain from the hot weather, temperature-sensitive transport must move on a particularly sensitive timeline. Obviously, unforeseen delays are an inevitable constant in the logistics industry, but this unpredictability can mean a drastic loss for cold storage inventory in transit during summer months.

Heightened Demand

A large amount of products, including beverages, pharmaceuticals, heat-sensitive manufacturing equipment, and chemicals, require temperature-sensitive transportation. However, the 2021 summer faces another challenge: the COVID-19 vaccine.

From the start of production, it was established that Pfizer and Moderna varieties both require intense cold storage to remain effective. With Pfizer at minus 70 degrees Celsius and Moderna calling for minus 20 Celsius, this presented some concerns in the viability of transport and storage.

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 50% of vaccines may be wasted globally every year due to challenges with temperature control, transport, and logistics. Although this may sound like a statistic that’s daunting to success, it’s important to note that there are many safeguards in place to help avoid these losses whenever possible.

However, this means an already overloaded supply chain is now rushing to adapt to the demands of vaccine transport in temperature-sensitive conditions, causing the perfect storm of potential delays for other time-critical shipments and temperature-sensitive cargo. With the world hinging on global vaccine distribution for an all-encompassing reopening, an expedited dispersal is critical to economic and social recovery.

Like any logistics concern, cold chain storage requires effective organization and efficiency to keep things moving smoothly and avoid loss. Here at TOC Logistics International, Inc., we’re happy to assess your personal needs and provide you with the best advice to keep your freight safe, secure, and frozen solid, as need be. Reach out to your TOC representative today to learn more.


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