skip to main text

Logistics Terms Cold Chain

Registration dateOCT 19, 2022

Cold Chain
  1. 1) Definition
    1. Cold Chain System

      Cold Chain is a system for maintaining freshness by managing products that are sensitive to temperature such as food, at an appropriate temperature throughout the entire process from production to consumption. This is a logistics system that can ensure product stability. The cold chain system is maintained from the packaging of products to transport, handling, cold storage, distribution, delivery, and placement.

  2. 2)Background
    1. Fresh foods such as meat, fish, and vegetables naturally undergo a decomposition process after being processed. If the quality is lowered due to a decrease in freshness, the value of the product will decrease. This can be partially resolved by lowering the temperature of fresh food. In such an environment, the metabolic process of fresh food is reduced, and the decomposition proceeds relatively slowly.

      COVID-19 VACCINE

      Cold chain technology was first used in the logistics industry in the 1940s, and it was used as a method to store and transport goods in a low-temperature space. As research on temperature maintenance and management technology or fresh food increased, various refrigeration technologies were applied in a complex manner to enhance the effectiveness of the cold chain. Recently, the importance of the cold chain has increased as contact-free, online consumption has expanded due to vaccine transport problems and demand for fresh food increased due to COVID-19.

    2. 3)Characteristics

      The cold chain allows the characteristics of the handled goods to be prioritized so that they can be maintained for a certain period. Its characteristics include complexity and high cost.

      1. Shelf life

        It is essential to manage perishable items using the cold chain.

      2. Complexity

        Management based on the cold chain is complicated due to the restrictions on the appropriate temperature for each type of product and difficulties in maintaining the product quality.

      3. High cost

        It requires an initial investment in refrigerated warehouses and refrigerated vehicles and energy must be used continuously, resulting in higher costs compared to general logistics.

    3. 4)Importance
      Importance
    4. The importance of the cold chain to manage pharmaceutical products has been highlighted due to COVID-19. Just as similar cases have occurred in flu vaccines, there were cases where problems occurred when some of the COVID-19 vaccines were exposed to higher temperatures.

      The performance of pharmaceutical products may vary depending on the temperature. If temperature-altered pharmaceutical products are distributed, then they may have life-threatening consequences. So, the importance of the cold chain has been increasing.

      In the pharmaceutical industry, cold chain technology enables consistent management, maintaining proper temperature and product reliability.

  3. 5)Regulations
    1. Cold chain-related regulations can be divided into ‘‘Regulation on the Safety of Medicinal Products, etc.’ and ‘Regulation on the Manufacture and Sale of Biological Products, etc.’ There are also some amendments.

      1. Regulation on the Safety of Medicinal Products, etc.
        • ① Existing: For pharmaceuticals requiring storage temperature classification, there are no regulations on the appropriate temperature during transport and temperature recording device.
        • ② Amendment: Appropriate temperatures must be maintained during transport for all pharmaceutical products. When transporting pharmaceuticals stored in refrigeration and cold storage, installation of temperature control devices such as automatic temperature recorders is prohibited.

      2. Regulation on the Manufacture and Sale of Biological Products, etc.
        • ① Existing: If the seller directly transports through a refrigerated vehicle or a built-in vehicle, there is no need to use a separate transport container. A cooling container such as an icebox can be used.
        • ② Amendment: Proper temperatures must be maintained during transport. When transporting pharmaceuticals stored in refrigeration and cold storage of pharmaceuticals, the installation of temperature control devices such as automatic temperature recorders is prohibited. Temperature, etc. measured by the automatic temperature recorder are stored for 2 years.
      [Regulations on Mandatory Cold Chain of Pharmaceutical Products]Regulations on Mandatory Cold Chain of Pharmaceutical Products(Source: Ministry of Food and Drug Safety)
    2. 6)Handling Cargo
      Cold Chain Cargo
    3. Items that require the use of cold chain technology such as tropical fruits, seafood, meat, and eggs must be kept at a low temperature to ensure freshness. Also, chemical products, electronic products, florals, etc. are considered cold chain cargo because the product compositions and properties may change due to temperature changes, or some damages may occur due to temperature and humidity causing a decrease in performance. Pharmaceuticals are also one of the cold chain cargo items, and they must be managed in order to not deviate from the set temperature for each item.

      [Appropriate Temperature for Each Food in the Food Code]Appropriate Temperature for Each Food in the Food Code(Source: Yoon-Sung Jo. 2021.03.26. Cold Chain Infrastructure Checkpoint -1. Korean Logistics News)
      [Domestic Cold Chain Temperature Range]Domestic Cold Chain Temperature Range
      [Proper Storage Temperature For Each Vaccine]Proper Storage Temperature For Each Vaccine(Source: Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – ‘Revision of management guidelines for storage and transportation of COVID-19 vaccine (3rd revision)’)
    4. 7)Cold Chain Technology
      1. The main technologies of the cold chain can be divided as follows depending on the field: material (packaging), monitoring and traceability, environmental control, operation, and work management depending on the field.

        [Technologies and Services for Cold Chain]Technologies and Services for Cold Chain(Source: KATS Technical Report No. 107)
        1. Material (Packaging)

          Technology developed for materials for cold chain (refrigerant, indicator, etc.) and transportation means (packing container, container, etc.)

        2. ICT Convergence

          Information and communication technology that can improve visibility and efficiency of cold chain by converging with the state-of-the-art ICT technology such as IoT, Big Data, and complex sensors

        3. Environmental Control

          Technology applied to each logistics process such as warehouses and containers to control the environment (temperature, humidity, gas, etc.) necessary for cold chain

        4. Work Standard (Operation)

          Work management for temperature control, quality measurement method, etc. for cold chain management

        [Cold Chain Technology]Cold Chain Technology(Source: Roambee, ‘Cold Chain Logistics Management and Monitoring – The Ultimate Guide’)
    5. 8)Current Status & Prospect
      1. The cold chain market has grown rapidly with the emergence of COVID-19. The delivery volume increased by more than 20% as contact-free and e-commerce demand surged. Such growth is expected to lead to the expansion of fresh food distribution markets, automation of cold chain warehouses, and the growth of smart distribution and logistics in developing countries. Combining the forecasts of major research institutes, the global cold chain market is expected in 2026, to grow by about 15% annually to $438 which is twice the amount in 2020.

        The Korean cold chain technology shows a high level of individual productization. Temperature and humidity conditions vary according to the characteristics of each product and also depend on the processing technology such as packaging. Facilities and equipment that consistently maintain quality during product transport such as temperature maintenance, humidity maintenance, monitoring and control management are high on the international level. Cold chain is a technology that has a high percentage of being used in more industries.

      2. CAGR 16.73%-Compound Annual Growth Rate(Source: Korea Innovation Foundation ‘Global Market Trend Report on Cold Chain Market’)