The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to adapt and reinvent part of their operational systems at an accelerated pace. From restaurants to local producers, we can see the trend growing; home delivery services are now the new norm. Subscription boxes with local fresh produce have dramatically increased in popularity in the last months; also rising is the demand for temperature-controlled solutions.
Although home delivery could be the salvation for your business, it is important to consider the risks it can incur if not done correctly. These are some things to bear in mind to keep your cold-chain safe while delivering your products to your customers’ homes using gel pack.
Using gel packs
Before you even start preparing your first shipment, you should spend time analysing your existing process. If this is the first time your business has to deal with deliveries to customers, you may want to consider which packaging and transport option adapts best to your product’s needs.
Keeping your cold-chain safe starts with the right packaging. Temperature-sensitive goods need to be handled with care and packed with gel packs to prevent dramatic temperature losses.
Gel packs or eutectic plates are sealed panels of eutectic gel that can be frozen to ensure effective insulation through transport. They can easily be packed along your consignment to avoid temperature loss that can damage the quality and freshness of your food.
The correct preconditioning of these plates will be an essential part of any temperature-sensitive product handling process. Although some businesses use freezer cold rooms or holding freezers to reduce the temperature of these plates, the recommended and best solution to efficiently precondition the gel packs is using a special blast freezer. The reason is that freezer rooms don’t have the cooling capacity to pull the heat quickly from eutectic plates. These units are designed to maintain the temperature and will be working out of their design specifications if used for blast freezing gel packs or other products. Blast freezers are, however, specifically designed to freeze goods quickly and efficiently.
How to precondition gel packs
Eutectic plates or gel packs are safe to use with food and can be utilised over and over again. Following the right procedures when freezing them will ensure their longevity for years. These are some tips on how to freeze them properly to comply with health and safety regulations using a blast freezer.
-The right position. Make sure as much area of the plate as possible is exposed to the cold air to accelerate the process.
-Keep the gel packs separated using trolleys or racks. Storing plates on top of one another will reduce the amount of surface exposed to the cold air stream.
-To increase air circulation within the blast freezer, it is convenient to use ventilated shelving systems or ventilated pallets.
-Make sure that the air circulation within the blast freezer is not blocked by anything.
-Open the loading door as little as possible to prevent changes in temperature. The moisture in the warm air coming in will quickly turn to ice and slow down the cooling process.
-When the optimal temperature is achieved, remove products from the blast freezer. If plates are not needed straight away, it is best to move them to a holding freezer for storage to reload the blast freezer and start the process again.
-Knowing your cooling times will also help you implement a smooth process. If you always load the plates the same way, then cooling times should be consistent.
-Defrosting your blast freezer regularly will also become an essential part of the process. This will allow you to remove any excess ice that has formed inside the unit to keep the air circulation up to the optimal standard. We recommend doing this daily to prevent any blocks of cold air stream.
Having an efficient way of preconditioning your gel packs will be essential to prevent any potential damage to your food deliveries.
If you need a gel packs preconditioning solution to start your home delivery services, we recommend using a blast freezer equipped with a temperature monitoring system.
At CRS we offer flexible renting and leasing options for any of our blast freezer units. Request a free consultation with one of our cold storage experts today and we will be in touch to advise on the best solution for your business.