In cold chain supply and logistics, technology is one of the most important parts of keeping precious cargo safe as it moves along distribution lanes. Time-temperature indicators—devices that monitor temperature changes over time—are among the single-most-important tools dedicated to this purpose. Using temperature indicators in your supply chain is a cost-effective means of monitoring and controlling time-temperature abuse. From food processing and shipments to HVAC monitoring, temperature monitoring is integral to keeping products safe and equipment operating well. This article will discuss the importance of temperature monitoring and its tools in your cold supply chain.

Understanding Temperature Risks In The Supply Chain

Temperature risks in the supply chain can have a significant deleterious impact on business operations. Extreme temperatures often lead to product damage, which (depending on the product) can cause a severe domino effect. Spoiled, damaged supplies don’t merely lead to shortages; they cause lost revenue, disappoint clients, and make keeping up with demand more challenging. Attenuating these risks should be a priority for any business. To do this effectively, companies need to develop comprehensive temperature management plans (particularly in the case of pharmaceuticals) that include risk assessment, prevention strategies, and contingency. By taking these steps, businesses can protect their supply chains from the harmful effects of extreme temperatures and make their cold supply chain run as smoothly as possible.

What Are Temperature Indicators?

Temperature indicators, otherwise known as temperature stickers or temperature labels, are adhesive stickers that usually feature a thermometer icon and a temperature range (although this may vary depending on the manufacturer). The purpose of these stickers is to provide a visual representation of the ambient temperature surrounding a product that’s being shipped. By monitoring the sticker’s temperature range, it’s possible to know whether or not the product is traveling within a safe temperature zone. Products that fall within the established temperature danger zone can spoil. In the case of food, the products aren’t viable and will not be able to keep up with demand. In other cases, such as medicines, vaccines, and biomatter used for transplants, it can be a matter of life and death. That’s why monitoring your cold chain is so vital to your success. It doesn’t just help you avoid unhappy customers; it helps you keep other people safe. Plenty of things can happen throughout the route your truck is traveling, so remaining abreast of any potential supply chain problems will only serve to improve the Integrity of your operation. Using temperature indicators properly can be extremely helpful for supply chains, as it allows for better quality control for your cold chain shipments.

Types of Temperature Indicators

In cold chain monitoring, there are quite a variety of distinct temperature indicators suited to different purposes. While thermometers, thermostats, and keeping refrigeration equipment fine-tuned all effectively contribute to a functioning cold chain, temperature indicators give you extra insight into your cargo’s temperature (and possible fluctuations). Simple single-use temperature indicators are merely a sticker with a chemical inside it that can indicate a time and temperature when temperature-temperature abuse occurs. These can range from short exposure to Long exposure. These are single-use, so they can be read and discarded once they’re triggered by temperature rising above the threshold. Single and dual temperature indicators are triggered by temperatures rising above their threshold. Other temperature indicators can measure temperature in a freezer or refrigeration unit. Most companies also offer custom options to suit your particular needs. The best temperature indicators are precision-based. Precision indicators take temperature monitoring to a higher degree of accuracy by providing easy to read, real-time data with men’s values and timestamps. This empowers managers to make better decisions and monitor their cargo more effectively.

How They Work

Thermometers measure temperature, making them a valuable tool for any industry where temperature metrics matter. Temperature indicators build on that. But instead of functioning like a thermometer, temperature indicators measure temperature fluctuations and issues over varying periods, making them an effective tool for monitoring your cold chain temperatures. Different temperature indicators work by utilizing certain principles. Some temperature indicators use dyes or bacterial fluids that change when the temperature fluctuates over different periods. Most of them use dye.

Temperature Thresholds

Every temperature indicator comes with unique temperature ranges. The temperature danger zone is typically between 40 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A precision indicator can range between 25 – 300 degrees Celsius (77 – 572 F). Most single-use temperature indicators will come in different ranges. These can include any range from -18 to 37 degrees Celsius. Getting the right temperature range is crucial to ensure you’re effectively monitoring your shipments and using the right metrics to determine if there are any time-temperature issues with your cargo.