Why Your Facility May Need Temperature Mapping

Even if it was done six months or a year ago, your facility might need temperature mapping.

The requirements related to warehouse operations and storage are quickly changing.  From warehouses that pack groceries for direct delivery to consumers to vaccine storage requiring specific temperatures, cold storage is also changing. Overall, though, the need for accurate temperature maps of every storage space has increased. 

In this blog, we’ll look at some reasons why your facility may need temperature mapping. 

To learn details on how to perform temperature mapping well, please read our blog <insert name and link of blog instructions on how to conduct temperature mapping> or read this article from ISPE Boston.

Here are a few reasons your facility might need temperature mapping now, even if it was recently done.

Seasonal Changes – The world is getting hotter.  Although this might not seem like it should affect your facility, longer summers with higher temperatures are changing the internal temperatures of warehouses all over the world.  Warehouses built decades ago might find that the original configuration of cooling units is no longer sufficient to keep the entire space as cold as is necessary. 

To avoid this issue, you should plan temperature mapping during a very hot week.  Look at weather maps and plan a time when the average temperature is expected to be near peak levels for your region.  This is a good time to learn if your cooling configuration is deficient. 

It’s also important to map ingress and egress points in the storage facility.  A single door that is frequently opened and closed can quickly raise the temperature of even a large space.

Downtime and Shutdowns – If your facility experienced shutdowns or slowdowns during the Coronavirus pandemic, you should perform a new temperature map of your space.  Equipment that has been shut down can return to service providing more or less cooling power, even if it has had a recent maintenance check. 

Taking the time to create a temperature map will give you confidence that your facility is completely ready for business.

Changes in Consumer Demand – As the story from Kroger stores linked above shows, demand is changing among consumers. This alters the types of products held in storage facilities, how long they are held, and at what temperatures. 

It’s important to analyze trends to stay ahead of changes in consumer demand.  

A temperature map of your space is a vital tool for showing that you have the capability of meeting consumer needs and preventing loss due to spoilage.

Spring Cleaning and Resets – Every time a rack of shelves is moved, the airflow in a storage space changes. This can lead to changes in temperatures “behind” those goods. 

If your facility was recently reset, if you moved things around, or simply carried out a thorough clean-up, a temperature map will ensure that you haven’t created new hot or cold spots in the facility.  Often, a small change of furniture arrangement in a facility can lead to spoilage of product before anyone realizes what has happened and why.

Client Churn – Every supplier’s products are slightly different. Boxes might be larger or smaller.  They might arrive warmer or colder.  Even the time of day that trucks arrive can affect the temperature in the storage space. 

As new client products are brought to your facility, temperature maps should be done to make certain that the new product isn’t affecting internal temperatures. Look particularly for racks that are newly suddenly in use, large boxes that block air flow, and new shelving installed to assist clients or your own storage.

Sales Support – Whether your sales team is attempting to sell your temperature-controlled goods or they’re working to get clients for your facility, a temperature map is a powerful tool.  Showing a temperature map of your storage facilities and shipping containers will reassure a distributor or retailer that you’re taking safety seriously. 

Provide your team with a recent temperature map showing that your entire facility meets a prospective client’s needs. This should be updated at least once a quarter so it never appears out of date. 

This kind of reassurance is important when you’re selling perishables, including food and pharmaceuticals. Distributors and retailers fear the repercussions of a time-temperature abuse crisis that makes people sick or even kills someone.  Stories like this have shut down restaurants and other facilities.

Regulatory Requirements – According to Dickson, some regulated industries have specifically mandated temperature mapping requirements.

“As with other GxP methods, temperature mapping is used in heavily regulated industries, including:

  • Pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing and testing
  • Medical device manufacturing
  • Laboratory operations
  • Food and Beverages
  • Warehousing, distribution, transportation, and other logistics involved with these industries”

In the past year, as very low temperature vaccines were shown leaving warehouses, temperatures of storage facilities, shipping containers, and even individual boxes, were suddenly breaking news all over the world. 

Consistent and frequent temperature mapping will prevent any non-compliance with regulations and avoid unpleasantness with local and federal enforcement. 

Temperature Mapping: A simple solution to a complex problem

Whereas just a decade or so ago it had to be taken on faith that a storage facility was properly cooled and that the temperature was well maintained throughout the facility, today’s data loggers allow facility ownership and management to see exactly where hot and cold spots are, control humidity, and keep everything in the facility safe from spoilage.

If your facility hasn’t been mapped in the last year or has gone through any of the changes listed above, it’s important that you do a new temperature map to guarantee everything is as expected. 

Taking it on faith is not enough.  Consumers, regulators, and clients all expect a more scientific and thorough approach.  Using the right data loggers and temperature mapping software, you can provide all interested parties with the information they need to show that you have your facilities under control.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.