Temperature Controlled Distribution: Solutions to Current Market Challenges

The industry of temperature controlled distribution, in both Europe and the US is faced with similar challenges, such as the cost of fuel, addressing regulatory constraints and availability of drivers being among the top concerns.
According to the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA), battling these areas with the use of technology to aid in fuel efficiency, managing less than truckloads and maintaining temperature control remotely are some of the ways in which the industry reacts to the said challenges. This also means that the profile of the driver is changing to one that has to be more technology aware as well as with experiments with driverless trucks.

Problematic Areas: infrastructure and fuel costs
According to IRTA, there are several key areas where challenges present themselves at present, including:
•Driver shortage – currently in the United States this is a major issue for most temperature controlled transportation companies. There are stories of companies who have a need to move products but have assets sitting ideal because they simply do not have enough drives to drive the trucks.
•Regulations – as attention to food safety continues to grow globally the more the industry is being regulated to ensure the safe transportation of food.
•Fuel Costs – currently fuel prices are relatively low globally but volatility in the marketplace remains. Transportation companies tend to run on slim margins anyway so any up-tick in the fuel prices eats into their profits pretty quickly.
•Infrastructure – This is definitely a challenge in emerging markets where the ability to move product safely and efficiently is often hampered by inadequacies in the transportation infrastructure.
•Capacity – Capacity has been less of a problem this year compared to the crisis that it was for the early part of last year, but an issue.  The driver shortage is back on everyone’s radar and the biggest contributor to capacity issues.  Detention at retail DC’s has been much worse this year than we’ve ever seen it. Companies that have historically been very good at turning trucks are not this year.
“The Refrigerated Transportation Best Practices Task Force will play a major role in providing information around the safe transportation of food to IRTA members, the industry as a whole, as well as governmental agencies both in the US and internationally. We are pleased to announce that the 2016 GCCA European Cold Chain Conference will be held in Amsterdam in early March and we are launching the Global Cold Chain Expo which will be held in June 2016 in partnership with the United Fresh Produce Association. We will continue to conduct Webinars and post content on our online training library,” said Megan Costello, vice president, member & industry affairs, Global Cold Chain Alliance and IRTA member.

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