29 September 2020

The cold chain is one of the most vital parts of the UK’s food industry – it’s what keeps the food we produce and import fresh and safe to eat, and massively reduces food waste. According to the Cold Chain Federation, there are more than 3.5 billion cubic metres of cold chain storage space nationwide.

Most foods, including meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables, must enter the chilled and/or frozen cold chain as soon as it is harvested, and must remain within it until it reaches the end consumer. That’s a long and complex journey from the point of production to the point of consumption, with strict time and temperature regulations to meet at every stage.

The ability to check and monitor the status of chilled and frozen produce is a must for any business in the cold chain, which is why real-time data is so important.

Time sensitive cold chain stock rotation

There is limited time to get perishable produce through the cold chain to the end consumer, and regulations on the length of time goods can stay in cold storage vary from product to product. Many chilled and frozen food processing businesses, distributors and retailers must manage a complicated array of products from goods in to dispatch or point of sale, and missing even one stage of temperature and time sensitive stock rotation can mean whole pallets perish. Deep freeze cold storage is a particularly challenging working environment, and one in which relying purely on manual processes can often result in human error.

Thankfully, when they’re integrated with the latest warehouse management system software, rugged mobile devices built specifically for the cold chain can ensure every rotation is completed on time. With inventory tracking, workflows and automatic rotation alerts in the palms of their gloved hands, cold chain operatives can rely on the digital back up of rugged devices to keep products moving as they should.  

End-to-end produce traceability

Many of today’s consumers want to know where their food comes from, as well as where it’s been before it reaches their plates. Cold chain traceability has therefore never been more important; it’s crucial that chilled and frozen food businesses can identify one batch of produce from another at any point and from any location on the warehouse floor.

If operatives need to call up vital information about a pallet – batch numbers, processing dates etc, they can do so at a moment’s notice. Only mobile computers, built to be rugged and fit for purpose, enable them to do this without interrupting their workflow. These devices also allow quick and reliable scanning, often even at extremely long ranges. With each scan and data capture, more information is stored on the journey of frozen and chilled food as it moves through the cold chain, for total end-to-end traceability.

Maximising cost efficiencies    

The cold chain involves the most energy intensive operations in the warehousing industry. In order to keep storage facilities frozen or chilled to the necessary temperatures, heat must be extracted on a massive scale, which comes with sky-high running costs. Businesses that manage such facilities cannot afford for time-consuming and potentially inaccurate manual processes to slow them down. They need hardware that helps keep the cold chain running as efficiently and accurately as possible, and that allows for real time access to and logging of operational data.

In such a time sensitive sector, the data support offered by rugged mobile devices enables businesses to meet tight deadlines and turnarounds without any loss of productivity. Not only do cold chain operatives on the factory or warehouse floor have the data they need to keep things moving, head office teams receive real time operational visibility fed back through each connected device.    

Find out more about how Touchstar’s rugged mobile devices can support the frozen and chilled food cold chain by getting in touch with our friendly team.  

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - PETER MARSH

Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001.  Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.  

In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.


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