|Extremes in temperatures can cost companies thousands when there's a failure in the cold chain.|
There are many options available for companies who need to find out if there is a failure in their cold chain, but it’s too late to find out upon arrival that a shipment has been spoiled and the loss has already happened.
Companies, like Hershey in this recent announcement, are looking for innovative ways to avoid these losses and protect their food (chocolate bars in the case of Hershey), pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other products as they travel across the cold chain, or temperature-controlled supply chain.
I think that companies should shift their focus to a different approach when it comes to protecting the cold chain. Companies should be actively seeking possible disruptions to the cold chain and responding in a timely manner, sometimes days before the product is even loaded on the truck.
|Receive automatic alerts about high temps|
along cold chain routes with Visual
Command Center for Supply Chain.
There are two critical approaches that need to work hand-in-hand to protect your cold chain:
Preventative: A comprehensive understanding of where your shipments travel is your biggest ally when trying to take a proactive, preventative approach to protecting the cold chain. If you know the locations of your suppliers, routes and other infrastructure your shipments rely on, you can monitor those areas for conditions that can damage the cold chain.
Monitor the forecasts around your routes and other supply chain assets so you know a couple of days in advance if a route could be impacted by a risk event, like a heat wave.
Software can help automate this process, making it less time-consuming and more effective. You can leverage command center technology that brings your supply chain information together with weather, traffic, civil unrest and other potential risk events.
This gives you the power to identify exceptions in advance and take action earlier. For example, you could be alerted when temperatures along your routes are forecasted to exceed a certain threshold, giving you days’ notice about the areas you need to focus on coming up, and freeing you up from spending time checking into the rest of the routes.
This means your team is in a position to take precautions to ensure your goods arrive in good condition. Some companies will send out notifications to those drivers or carriers, with a warning about the forecast and the expectations/protocols for transporting temperature-sensitive shipments. Others might reallocate refrigerated trucks or make plans to check in more closely with the driver of that truck to ensure there are no costly delays.
Responsive: The preventative approach won’t always catch everything: Traffic happens, forecasts miss the mark and Murphy’s Law strikes. As with a preventative approach, this is where your comprehensive understanding of your end-to-end supply chain benefits you.
Companies who integrate risk information into the supply chain map, can quickly see when traffic backups, natural disasters, strikes and other events could potentially hang up shipments. Software can also automate this, so you don’t have to rely on your team to manually identify these exceptions in a timely manner.
If you know early about problems, that gives you more time to solve them – and often that means your choices are going to be less costly.
For example, the quicker you know that five of your routes rely on a bridge that has been shut down over a massive protest, the earlier you can get ahold of those drivers and reroute them or cancel the day’s route. Sometimes you may find out minutes or hours after an event happens, but shortening the time to understand and take action puts you in a much better position to avoid losing a shipment and keep your costs low while doing it.
Think differently to protect the cold chain
Don’t rely on tools that let your know after you’ve lost thousands of dollars in product that there is a problem. Your team can be better positioned to proactively identify problems and respond to them in a timely manner.
I recently authored a white paper – The 8 Principles of Supply Chain Risk - which can help you get started in building a risk-resilient cold chain. If you’re interested in automating your supply chain risk management and learning more about the platform my company builds, you can read more about its supply chain uses on our website or contact me!