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Stakeholders must battle cost-centric thinking in cold chain, says TSSC

Company official outlines challenges facing the sector; highlights importance of regulation, training to ensure best practices

| | Apr 14, 2019 | 9:51 am
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Miro Donabedian

Dubai, UAE, 14 April 2019: The UAE, largely considered a hub for the GCC region, is well-positioned to take a leadership role with regard to food safety practices, provided stakeholders address cost-centric thinking plaguing the cold chain sector, said Miro Donabedian, General Manager, Technical Supplies and Services Company (TSSC). “When you want to make things better, hygienic and more energy efficient, there is cost associated to it,” he said. “A lot of times, unfortunately, people are abstaining from putting those options in a bid. They want to bid, and the energy efficiency part is overlooked, because people want to have the lowest cost.” Donabedian added that efforts to enhance energy efficiency only come afterward during retrofits, by changing motors and refrigerants, and only when certain customers specify.

Donabedian said that commercial pressures also created greater demand for leasing of transport refrigeration vehicles, as stakeholders are less willing to invest and buy their own trucks. He said that in such cases, quality of the trucks would be dependent on the end-user, who would specify features to the leasing companies, who are forced to comply. This, he said, can be a problem as not all customers have the same view of investing in proper specifications to ensure the quality of the cold chain. “Also, the way you care for the truck is not the same as when you own the truck,” he said, especially with regard to loading practices impacting the floor, adding that there is more repair and damage on leased trucks that are often abused and used for 24 hours a day. Another niggling problem, Donabedian said, is the lack of skilled personnel in the market to facilitate installation of the boxes, which may lead to inefficient performance and, potentially, leakages. There is a similar need for skilled personnel to ensure proper commissioning and maintenance, as well, he said.

For Donabedian, regulation, training and technology play a vital role in addressing these prevailing issues in the market. Providing recommendations on the type of regulation needed, Donabedian said that the government should ensure that boxes and trucks are tested in qualified testing centres before being allowed on the road to ensure some sort of minimum standards. This, he pointed out, can be an annual exercise to ensure the quality of the trucks. Such a mechanism, Donabedian said, will also safeguard the market from imported trucks coming from countries, such as those in Europe, which are not designed for ambient conditions of the UAE. “Even the cooling units are probably not for these temperatures,” he said. “I suspect the box construction and cooling unit are rated for the conditions there, and there is a risk in running them in the UAE and the GCC region. There should be a test to expose the trucks to ambient conditions and make sure they are able to do what they are supposed to.”

With regard to the lack of skilled personnel in the market, Donabedian said that he believes manufacturers and even distributors of cooling units should initiate proper training for relevant stakeholders and conduct refresher courses through workshops to update the knowledge of technicians involved in installing, commissioning and maintaining the units.

Speaking on monitoring, Donabedian said that the growing trend of using telematics will pave the way for a leaner cold chain and that “smart trucks” are the way of the future.

 

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com


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