Monday, October 10, 2016

Temporary Power: Keeping the Cold Chain from Breaking

The cold chain plays a vital role in the global production, trade and delivery of food and pharmaceutical commodities. The increasing market demand for safe, quality food and pharmaceutical products has heightened the importance of keeping them at the optimal temperature, from manufacturing to consumption. Food and pharmaceutical companies strive to ensure the integrity of their refrigerated products, yet real instances of temperature abuse along certain points of the cold chain threaten to compromise their safety and quality.

In the food industry, keeping products in refrigerated storage facilities is one of the most extensively practiced methods of controlling the growth of microbes in perishable or potentially hazardous foods. Although the microbial flora of food products is affected by many factors, the length of storage time and the temperature at which food commodities are kept have been proven to have the greatest impact on their safety and quality. Therefore, food manufacturing and storage companies, together with their allied entities like grocery stores and hypermarkets, have to constantly monitor and maintain the required temperatures throughout the food continuum – from processing to storage and distribution.

Over at the pharmaceutical front, manufacturers and health professionals around the world have striven to develop the pharmaceutical cold chain to ensure that critical medicines and vaccines, among other essential health-related requirements, are safely and readily available. Medical and pharmaceutical products, just like food, require constant temperature control throughout the production and distribution chain. Vaccines, for instance, are sensitive to both heat and cold, so they need to be kept at precise temperatures from manufacture to the point of use. Blood has to be properly refrigerated and stored to remain usable, while HIV rapid test kits, pediatric ARV drugs and other testing reagents must all be stored in climate controlled conditions to remain effective.

The real threat of power interruption and consumption limitation
The demand for electricity has been steadily increasing all around the world. Owing to the continuous growth in population, expansion of industrial activities and improvement in the standard of living, many countries have been seeing a remarkable spike in energy requirements, particularly during months of extreme temperatures and/or peak industrial production. While a surge in power demand may be indicative of an active and growing economy, it can rein in the economic and industrial progress of a country if the existing power infrastructure is not able to keep up with the electricity requirement – a scenario usually witnessed in emerging regions. When the electricity demand consistently outstrips the supply, power facilities may become overburdened, and, as a consequence, load shedding, electricity outage or total blackout may ensue.

The cold chain will be adversely affected by load shedding and regular power interruption. Without a constant and reliable supply of electricity, food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, storage and distribution facilities will find it challenging to maintain the optimal temperature required to deliver safe and quality products. Procedures carried out in the manufacture and storage of food and pharmaceutical products involve highly precise temperature requirements that even a momentary power outage will render an entire batch unsafe and unusable. When the quality and integrity of food and pharmaceuticals have been compromised, they will have to be disposed of than pose health risks to consumers, resulting in financial and operational losses in the area of millions of Dollars.

Food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, storage and distribution facilities have attempted to lobby for the exemption of their industries from load shedding or peak lopping. However, in light of a highly limited power supply, governments and utility providers have found it difficult to grant them their request, since any additional power supplied to the food and pharmaceutical industry would be at the expense of households or other industries.

Several food and pharmaceutical entities have endeavored to work around the problem by employing local electricity generation systems within their facilities. Unfortunately, the local power sources were not always able to sufficiently produce for the extent of the production load, and are thus incapable of supporting the operations of large-scale manufacturing, storage and distribution facilities.

Instances of load shedding, power interruption or consumption limitation can occur at any time, hence food and pharmaceutical facilities will need large-scale supplemental or back-up power systems that will be able to generate the required electricity at any given moment. They will find benefit in employing power generation systems that will seamlessly supply power to their industrial operations as soon as the electricity from the grid is interrupted, so temperature abuse at any point of the cold chain can be averted. When the safety and integrity of food and pharmaceuticals are ensured, consumers will be spared from health risks, and companies will be able to run operations as usual and avoid losing millions in revenue.

The benefits of rental power to the cold chain
When the power supply is unstable, and when instances of power interruption are unpredictable, food and pharmaceutical companies can find huge benefits in espousing a proactive stance and hiring the services of temporary power providers. Electricity plays an undeniably vital role in the climate control of production, storage and distribution facilities, and rental power plants can provide the necessary electricity without the need for food and pharmaceutical companies to spend scarce CAPEX. Instead of pouring a sizeable initial investment in permanent power infrastructure (which can take several years to complete) or in local power generation systems (which cannot always guarantee the precise amount of electricity required by large-scale facilities), food and pharmaceutical companies can pay for the electricity produced by hired power plants from their operating revenues. During peak production seasons, food and pharmaceutical companies will also be able to add power modules that will increase the rental power plant’s generation capacity.

The large-scale rental generators that make up the temporary power plant are modular and containerized, and can be rapidly delivered to and installed anywhere in the world, and can support the requirement of even the largest production, storage or distribution facilities. They are fully able to function even in remote locations, and in sites where traditional power infrastructure is outdated, damaged or absent.

The investment required to set up a rental power plant has been proven to be marginal compared to the cost of foregone opportunities, wasted man-hours, discarded products or lost lives.

Keeping the cold chain intact
The safety and quality of food and pharmaceutical products largely depend on the integrity of the cold chain. Instances of temperature abuse at any point of the cold chain could bring about serious health risks to consumers and calamitous financial and operational losses to food and pharmaceutical companies. In times of load shedding, peak lopping or unpredicted blackouts, rental power plants, either as a stand-alone solution or support to conventional or local power systems, can guarantee a reliable and continuous supply of electricity, so food and pharmaceutical manufacturing, storage and distribution can conduct business as usual.


Altaaqa Global
Tel: +971 56 1749505

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