Cold Chain Logistics for Temperature Sensitive Products


Cold Chain Logistics for Temperature Sensitive Products


Requiring close coordination and collaboration between producers, logistics providers and retailers, cold chain logistics is a vital part in ensuring that perishable products, including medicinal or pharmaceutical are transported and stored under optimal conditions.

Because of the challenges that come with keeping cargo cool, refrigerated or frozen during transportation, cold chain logistics has had to continually evolve in order to meet the specific needs of the various industries that require it.

The cold chain must maintain a specific temperature range throughout the entire supply chain, from production to the final point of consumption, to ensure the quality and safety of the goods.

This temperature-controlled supply chain requires specialised infrastructure, including refrigerated warehouses, refrigerated vehicles and packaging materials, along with appropriate monitoring and control systems across the unbroken links of the cold chain.

Maintaining the integrity of the cold chain is critical to ensuring the safety and quality of perishable goods, as deviations from the required temperature range can result in spoilage, degradation, or even the loss of potency of the goods.

Unveiling The History of Cold Chain Logistics

The cold chain originated in the late 18th century when British fishermen needed to find a way of keeping their catch cool in port before it was sold. But it wasn’t until the mid-19th century when reefer ships and refrigerator cars came into service that the cold chain really became a part of commercial food transport.

The first effective cold store was opened in St Katharine Docks in London in 1882, and the first mobile refrigeration vehicle was patented in the late 1930s in the US. By the 1950s refrigerated trucks and freight trains were carrying perishable food long distances, and cold chain technology has only developed exponentially since then.

Refrigerated reefer containers

Insulated containers equipped with refrigeration units to maintain the temperature of goods. They come in various sizes and can be used for the transportation of various temperature sensitive commodities. On ships they run on a constant power source, and are controlled via an integrated microprocessor. While on the road, reefer containers are powered with a genset, a combination of generator and engine.

MSC has one of the largest and most advanced reefer container fleets in the world.

Refrigerated vehicles

Specialized vehicles, such as refrigerated trucks and trailers, are equipped with temperature-controlled compartments to transport perishable goods over long distances.

Cool rooms and refrigerated warehouses

Temperature-controlled storage facilities used to store perishable goods for an extended period. They maintain a constant temperature and humidity level to keep produce refrigerated, frozen or cool.

Temperature monitoring systems

Devices used to track and record the temperature of perishable goods during storage and transportation. They help to ensure that the produce is kept within the required temperature range and to detect any deviations and send alerts to operational staff.

Insulated packaging materials

Materials such as foam boxes, gel packs and insulated liners, used to regulate temperatures during transportation. They are designed to keep the goods at the required temperature for a specific period.

Temperature control

Ensuring that the temperature remains within the required range throughout the entire supply chain can be challenging, especially during transportation, where cargo can be exposed to extreme temperatures, humidity and other environmental factors.


Cold chain logistics can be expensive due to the need for specialized refrigerated vehicles, temperature-controlled storage facilities, and the use of temperature-controlled packaging materials. The cost of cold chain technology can leave gaps in supply chain infrastructure, posing risks to produce and the possibility of wastage.

Visibility and traceability

Lack of visibility and traceability in the supply chain can make it difficult to track and monitor the temperature of perishable goods, which is crucial for maintaining their quality and safety. That is where cold chain technology is evolving all the time, with sensors and the development of advanced tracking technology enabling customers to identify irregularities and notify key stakeholders.


Human error

The cold chain is a complex and dynamic process that requires careful planning and execution. Human error can occur at any stage of the supply chain and can result in temperature fluctuations, compromising the quality and safety of the goods. MSC has a global team of reefer specialists who provide support at every stage of the cold chain.

What are the Advantages of Cold Chain Logistics?

Improved product quality

Cold chain logistics help to maintain the desired temperature range throughout the supply chain, which helps to preserve the quality and freshness of perishable goods.

Increased shelf life

By maintaining the correct temperature, cold chain logistics can extend the shelf life of temperature sensitive goods, allowing them to be stored and transported for longer periods of time without spoiling.

Safer food

Cold chain logistics helps to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses by maintaining the temperature of perishable goods and preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

Competitive edge

Cold chain logistics can give companies a competitive edge by allowing them to offer high-quality perishable goods to customers, even over long distances.

Ask MSC for Advice on Cold Chain Logistics

If you’re looking to ship cargo that requires careful handling and temperature control, discover our range of cold chain shipping and logistics services.

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