Sunday, July 21, 2024
Addressing temperature control challenges in air cargo

Addressing temperature control challenges in air cargo

In the ever-evolving landscape of air cargo transportation, ensuring precise temperature control is paramount for the integrity and safety of sensitive goods. From perishable food items to pharmaceuticals, maintaining optimal temperatures throughout the supply chain is essential.

Temperature can vary during transportation, and this can occur at different stages and potentially make things unpredictable. Storage facilities at origin and transit airports, as well as the cargo holds of aircraft, are susceptible to fluctuations in temperature. These variations pose significant risks to perishable goods, impacting their quality and shelf life.

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Moreover, the UK’s diverse climate adds an extra layer of complexity to temperature control efforts. From chilly winters to unpredictable weather patterns, ensuring consistent temperature conditions can be challenging, especially for goods that require strict temperature control.

The transportation of pharmaceuticals is of particular importance in the UK air cargo industry. With the country a hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution, ensuring the safe and secure transport of medications is critical. Many pharmaceutical products, including vaccines and biologics, have strict temperature requirements to maintain their efficiency. To meet these requirements, pharmaceutical companies and logistics providers implement specialised cold chain solutions. This includes the use of temperature-controlled packaging, refrigerated storage facilities, and adherence to international regulations such as the IATA Temperature Control Regulations (TCR).

If a vaccine is not kept at specific temperatures, it will become ineffective. As such, monitoring is used as a vital safety measure. In recent years, temperature monitoring has been carried out manually every few hours. Someone would have to enter the insulated container, open the doors and let in potentially damaging amounts of heat. If something went wrong between measurements, a few hours was more than enough time for many of the vaccines to be lost before the next measurement was taken. However, measuring any more regularly would slow transit, ultimately increasing demand for the resources such as dry ice that are required to keep vaccines cool. Vaccines also have a limited lifespan, so more time in transit limits their shelf life.

The ThermaData Lite allows users to monitor the storage temperatures of products across their entire journey, ensuring compliance with safety standards by confirming consistent safe temperatures throughout. It identifies any temperature deviations along the route and maintains digital records in an accessible archive, facilitating swift retrieval in case of issues and safeguarding brand reputation. Customisable intervals and alarms cater to users’ specific needs, while the convenience of downloading results without software simplifies the process for recipients of goods, requiring software only for initial instrument programming.

Embracing cold chain technology

To address these challenges, the UK air cargo industry relies on cold chain technology. Cold chain solutions encompass a range of tools and practices aimed at monitoring and controlling temperature conditions throughout the supply chain. Specialised temperature-controlled containers, packaging, and refrigeration systems play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of temperature-sensitive cargo.

In the UK, companies invest in state-of-the-art cold chain infrastructure and temperature-monitoring devices to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and industry standards. Real-time monitoring systems provide visibility into temperature conditions, enabling swift interventions in case of deviations from the desired range. Addressing temperature control challenges should be a priority for the UK air cargo industry.

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By embracing cold chain technology, investing in infrastructure, and following regulatory standards, stakeholders in the industry are working towards ensuring the integrity and safety of temperature-sensitive cargo. As the industry continues to evolve, collaboration and innovation will be key to strengthening temperature control practices and meeting the evolving needs of global trade in the UK.

Jason WEBB
Managing director at Electronic Temperature Instruments

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