Process capability index Cpk for monitoring the thermal performance in the distribution of refrigerated products
The temperature of refrigerated products along the cold chain must be kept within pre-defined limits to ensure adequate safety levels and high product quality. Because temperature largely influences microbial activities, the continuous monitoring of the time-temperature history over the distribution process usually allows for the adequate control of the product quality along both short- and medium-distance distribution routes. Time-Temperature Indicators (TTI) are composed of temperature measurements taken at various time intervals and are used to feed analytic models that monitor the impacts of temperature on product quality. Process Capability Indices (PCI), however, are calculated using TTI series to evaluate whether the thermal characteristics of the process are within the specified range. In this application, a refrigerated food delivery route is investigated using a simulated annealing algorithm that considers alternative delivery schemes. The objective of this investigation is to minimize the distance traveled while maintaining the vehicle temperature within the prescribed capability level.