“The fastest growing sector for U.S. exporters are food and agricultural goods,” says Donna Mullins, president of Mullins International Solutions, a compliance, training and consulting firm for international trade, in an interview with Supply Chain 24/7’s Patrick Burnson. “Our job as forwarders is to help these shippers enter new markets without getting into trouble and to navigate the regulatory network—and that takes constant diligence and education.”
Burnson highlights two key pieces of advice from two freight-forwarding resources: the Transportation Intermediaries Association and the International Federation of Freight Forwarder Associations. Given our experience in working with cold chain customers, we’d like to expand on their input by highlighting two critical cold chain capabilities that will help freight forwarders succeed: visibility and documented quality of delivery.
Visibility: See What’s Happening Anytime, Anywhere
When you’re tasked with moving perishable goods, you need to know what’s happening with those goods at any time. With end-to-end visibility, you can monitor the complete movement and lifecycle of products. If a problem arises—for example, a product has been subjected to excessive heat—you can immediately address the situation, rather than risk customer contact with a damaged product. And what’s more, enabling end-to-end visibility can help solve a longstanding cold chain challenge.
“The main problem is that many cold chain corporate supply chain organizations are siloed, operate on a regional basis, and are disconnected among regions and even sites,” says Tobias Larsson, head of DHL’s Resilience Team, a unit that specializes in end-to-end supply chain risk management, as quoted by Burnson. “And as a result, they lack visibility and span of control beyond their part of the operation. That may work day-to-day, but when you’re in crisis and looking to fully comply with FSMA [Food Safety Modernization Act], it can be a problem.”
Documentation: Create an Information Trail
They say the devil’s in the details—and in the case of the cold chain, those details must be documented. Temperature, sanitization, time spent in a cold shipping package and at each point in the shipping route—these data pieces (among others) prove quality of delivery, which speaks to a freight forwarder’s overall integrity and performance.
Creating that traceability is another matter—and it’s one that’s best handled by technology like a mobile supply chain. Consider, for example, equipping cold shipping packages and transportation with sensors that can continually gather the environmental and logistical data that not only enables documented quality of delivery, but also fulfills increasingly complex regulatory requirements.
“Under the FSMA, the FDA requires manufacturers to ensure product integrity throughout its distribution, which includes storage and warehousing, regardless of where that occurs,” Burnson writes. “In addition, regulatory requirements include control and validation of logistics services.”
Take a look at Burnson’s full story for more insight that helps freight forwarders working in the cold chain. And if you’d like more information about how we can help you keep your part of the cold chain intact, contact us anytime.