The “Last Mile” in the Distribution Chain

Howe Corporation has been a global leader for flake ice and refrigeration equipment for more than 100 years. Now, more than ever before, Howe Corporation is a leader in the last mile of the distribution chain—not only for perishable foods but also for transportation and healthcare industry as well. Grocers have “last mile” warehouses where food is stored, allowing nearby stores to replenish inventory quickly. HoweIce is excellent for varying levels of maintaining cold temperature product distribution, particularly when being delivered to rural and more remote locations within the United States and Latin America. 

What is the “Last Mile” in the Distribution Chain?

The supply chains for food and other products are long and winding. Long distance traveling is now the rule, rather than the exception. In fact, it is estimated that food in the United States travels some 1,500 miles from farm to plate where Howe ice is the preferred ice especially for produce post harvest cooling, removing field heat as it is harvested, remaining on ice for the duration of the transportation time to the local retailers. Because of this, last mile innovations are necessary, with companies increasingly investing in this last mile of the supply chain. 

In the food supply chain, the last mile typically refers to warehouses that store food until it is needed in the grocery stores. Additionally, the healthcare industry has many products that must be kept cold to retain their effectiveness. The “last mile” for these healthcare supply chains could be hospitals or other areas designated, as they wait to be delivered to doctor’s offices, clinics, and drug stores like Walgreens and CVS. 

How Important is This “Last Mile” in the Distribution Chain?

Once a shipment is delivered to a storage warehouse, temperatures are recorded. This is the step in the supply chain that creates accountability—and trust. It  is particularly relevant in the cold chain, as the value of these deliveries can be very high. A standard container load of perishable food can have a value as high as $100,000. In the case of pharmaceuticals, the value of the cargo can reach $50 million or more. This tells you just how crucial it is to keep this precious cargo at its recommended temperature.   

How Does Howe Corporation Contribute to the “Last Mile”? 

Howe Corporation supplies flake ice making equipment, condensing units, and ice storage bins to meet every need for industries needing to keep products cold until they reach the consumer. Howe equipment is tightly integrated into the entire food industry—from ice for produce post harvest through the processing, distribution, and merchandising of fresh products. In addition to keeping food fresh until it reaches the consumer, Howe Corporation assists the healthcare industry as well. 

Flake ice making equipment, condensing units, and ice storage bins are used extensively in the healthcare industry. Healthcare cold storage is used for: 

  • Post-op care
  • Dietary needs
  • Patient hydration
  • Physical therapy
  • Sports medicine
  • Keep vaccines at the recommended cold temperature

HoweIce allows healthcare corporations as well as food suppliers to consistently maintain cold storage temperatures through cooling systems, cold storage systems, cold transport products, and cold processing and distribution solutions. 

While some of the healthcare products will require dry ice (because of the extreme temperatures necessary), others will not require such extremely cold temperatures, therefore will depend on flake ice. These products must remain cold from the time they leave the initial distribution point until they reach their destinations. 

Howe Corporation Innovations for the Food Industry and Transportation and Storage

Howe Corporation operates under the highest standards. Our ice flakers outlast the competition by 2-3 times, are the most energy-efficient machines on the market and are available in a variety of sizes, voltages, and refrigerants to meet every requirement for food and vaccine storage and transport. The condensing units supplied by Howe Corporation are engineered, designed, and correctly sized to match requirements, offering optional condenser coil corrosion protection for use in harsher climates.  Howe Corporation ships ice making equipment globally and has equipment in over 150 countries.

Howe’s ice storage bins are well-insulated to preserve the stored ice.  We offer standard, upright, shovel-out style bins, as well as models with carts for easy ice transport. For bakery and food service applications, Howe bins are available with fully welded and coved interior corners. The Howe Corporation looks forward to assisting in the distribution of critical healthcare products, as well as continuing to ensure our perishable food items reach their last mile in tip-top shape. Contact the Howe Corporation for all your ice and refrigeration needs.