What is Cold Chain Logistics in Supply Chain?

what is cold chain logistics

Cold Chain Logistics

Cold chain logistics is the technology and logistics process that allows for the transport of temperature-sensitive goods and products along the supply chain. Cold chain logistics management involves performing a chain of tasks to prepare, store, and deliver the products along the cold supply chain. It is necessary to store and ship the products at the required temperature otherwise it will render them unusable.

Any product is known to be or labeled “perishable” will likely need cold chain management. This could include foods like meat and seafood, produce, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals.

Cold chain logistics has many moving parts. Some of the elements include:

1. Cold storage – Facilities that store goods and products waiting to be transported.
2. Cooling systems – Systems that bring food up to and keep it at an appropriate temperature during all aspects of the supply chain, including processing, storing, and transporting.
3. Cold transport – Ensures goods remain at a stable temperature and humidity levels.
4. Cold processing – Facilities that allow for processing goods with sanitation in mind.
5. Cold distribution – Deals with loading boxes or crates and pallets to distribute goods.

Cold Chain Technologies

Cold chain transportation relies on several methods to keep goods at proper temperatures. How long the transport is, the size of the packaged shipment, and seasonality are all factors that affect which method is used.

Gel packs

Often used for medical and pharmaceutical shipments.

Dry ice

Can keep goods frozen for extended time periods. Used for dangerous goods, pharmaceuticals, and food. Sublimates rather than melts when coming in contact with air.

Liquid nitrogen

Used primarily to transport biological cargo (organs, tissues). Extremely cold, keeps items frozen for longer periods.

Eutectic plates

Also called cold plates, similar to gel packs but can be reused.


A temperature-controlled, insulated van, semi, truck, or standard ISO container. Allows for temperature-controlled air circulation.


Insulated quilts can be wrapped around or placed over freight and are used to keep temperatures constant, so frozen items will remain frozen for a longer time.

Cold Chain Standards & Regulations

Federal regulators like the US Customs, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and others have set standards and requirements for cold chain logistics. These requirements are established to better ensure products are shipped safely. Each has their own minimums for different products in relation to temperature, timing, and packaging. Beyond these federal industry-regulations set by major institutions, shipping companies also determine their own individual stringent quality standards.

Read more: Best Tips For Choosing the Right Shipping Partner

Some regulatory considerations include:

1. Product stability
2. Packaging
3. Transportation
4. Monitoring
5. Temperature minimums

Tenax Transport Can Handle Your Cold Chain Needs!

Tenax Transport is here to help with all your cold chain logistics needs. We know what it takes, every step of the way, to ensure on-time delivery of shipments that are the ideal temperature, every delivery. From the best cold technology to federal regulations, we’re in the know with everything to make sure your sensitive goods are perfect when they arrive.

Reach out to learn more about our cold chain management and get a custom quote from Tenax Transport today.