Refrigeration and Logistics
The temperature of refrigerated products along the distribution process must be kept within close limits to ensure optimum food safety levels and high product quality. The variation of product temperature along the vehicle routing sequence is represented by non-linear functions. The temperature variability is also correlated with the time required for the refrigerated unit to recover after cargo unloading, due to the cargo discharging process. The vehicle routing optimization methods employed in traditional cargo distribution problems are generally based on the Travelling Salesman Problem with the objective of minimizing travelled distance or time.
Lifestyle changes over the past decades led to increasing demand and consumption of refrigerated and frozen products, which are easier and quicker to prepare than the traditional types of food or are made of volatile material. In order to ensure product quality and health safety, the control of temperature throughout the cold chain is necessary. In fact, a number of factors affect the maintenance of quality and the incidence of losses in fresh food products, such as
- The initial quality of the commodity;
- The temperature at which the product is held during handling, storage, transport, and distribution;
- The relative humidity of the postproduction environment;
- The use of controlled or modified atmospheres during storage or transit;
- Chemical treatments for the control of decay or physiological disorders;
- Heat treatments for decay control; and
- Packaging and handling systems.
But, since temperature largely determines the rate of microbial activity, which is the main cause of spoilage of most fresh food products, continuous monitoring of the full time temperature history usually allows for an adequate control of the process along the short and medium distance distribution situations. The quality of these products might change rapidly because they are submitted to a variety of risks during transport and storage that are responsible for material quality losses. Metabolic activities generally increase as storing temperatures are elevated. On the other hand, short interruptions in the control of the cold chain may lead to quick deterioration of product quality.
Therefore, the required product temperature range should be maintained from production to consumption. However, the main difficulties are encountered at the weakest links or interfaces of the cold chain as delivering, loading or unloading operations and temporary storage where products are generally handled in somewhat uncontrolled temperature ambiences.
Daks Couriers can help solve your refrigeration logistics needs.