Transport companies and refrigeration equipment suppliers

By Juan Morales,
Operations Manager
(Jmorales@tkpanama.com)
Thermo King of Panama

The cold chain is a temperature controlled supply chain. An example of the cold chain is in the food industry, where products pass through a series of processes and activities to ensure their quality and safety until the moment they reach the end consumer.

A cold chain remains intact to assure a consumer that the products, especially perishables, have been maintained
within the temperature range that each requires during production, transportation, storage and sale.

Hulse (2004) argues that “food preservation is important to reduce losses and degradation during transportation from rural areas to urban populations,” which is one of the main goals pursued by the Secretariat of the Cold Chain, formed in 2009 in Panama, whose main focus is waste reduction and cost reduction of the basic food basket in perishables.

Vegetables and fruit are better preserved thanks to the cold chain.

Vegetables and fruit are better preserved thanks to the cold chain.

In this regard, refrigerated equipment for transport plays a vital role in the area of logistics, since it depends on the different types of products being maintained in the ranges of optimal temperatures throughout the distribution process before reaching the final consumer.

Because of the importance of the Cold Chain companies transporting products and those responsible for distributing and installing refrigeration equipment have a direct responsibility to advise their clients and support them in control of their marginal costs and contribute to their operational sustainability and profitability.

Cold chain management.

Cold chain management.

Therefore, given the range of equipment and applications, such as unit panels on trucks, vans and marine containers – each designed for different specific functions – the process of choosing the most appropriate equipment for a particular operation becomes a task that should not be taken lightly. Although there are many aspects involved in the final decision, the main factor should focus on the reliability offered by the equipment in accordance with the operational nature in Panama, as well as technical support and spare parts availability.

The former factor is critical, in reducing down time when there are unforeseen circumstances. Corrective maintenance should be performed, as well as preventive maintenance that assures the proper functioning of the units in order to minimize high operational costs associated with unscheduled repairs.

Other less tangible things, such as education in the use of equipment by drivers are also vital factor, not only to achieve a healthy business operation, but also to lessen impact of bad practices that generate monetary losses and the loss of products which, in many cases, may even cause the breakdown of any of the links in the cold chain. Another responsibility is in the choice and installation of refrigeration equipment to its customers, which effects Panamanian
consumers in general. Refrigerated transport companies have the right to require their equipment suppliers provide them with the tools and training needed to train their staff.

If all these factors are not carried out in the right way, it will result in losses and deterioration of the products that are
carried, either because of poor maintenance practices or lack of education. According to a study by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) these malpractices could alter between 20% and 50% of the total product transported.

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