ColdEdge Technologies originally set up operations as an incubation client of the Bridgeworks program in 2008. Soon after, they began exporting products, and the manufacturer has dealt with headaches due to shipping, tracking, and paperwork problems ever since. But now, the company is juggling even greater logistics challenges as the nation faces a supply chain backlog.

Co-owners Ajay Khatri, Terry Rufer, and Jeff Romig use extremely low-temperature cryogenics to build specialized refrigeration systems that remove noise and vibration for sensitive measurements. Examples include cryogenic systems used inside MRIs, sensitive material characters of experiments in physics and chemistry, space telescopes by NASA, and others. Their custom systems are used in laboratories by scientists and researchers around the globe. Currently, the company exports to approximately 15 countries, though they have sent products to as many as 30 countries in the past.

To recognize all the countries in which they have customers, ColdEdge proudly displays country flags in their own manufacturing suite in Allentown.

But getting products to various destinations has been significantly challenging lately. While shipping has always been a logistics challenge, ColdEdge Business Manager Win Schucker points out that the problems were primarily due to paperwork, tracking, and what’s known as incoterms, the international set of rules for buyers and sellers. But now, supply chain issues have made it exponentially worse.

“There are issues with not enough flights and not enough trucks. Even with a confirmed flight, there’s still the risk of shipments not flying. Couple that with a higher volume as companies ramp up again.  There seems to be a lack of personnel in the office to coordinate shipments as well,” says Schucker.

“Another challenge with shipping is that one setback can cause a lot more work on both ends.  If a shipment is delayed, for example, there is additional correspondence with customers, maybe an installation is delayed or postponed, which means both sides are scrambling to reset their schedules.”

And when the volume increases, there’s a higher chance that cargo is misplaced. Unfortunately, ColdEdge has had to deal with misplacements on occasion, which causes a domino effect for suppliers and customers. Problematic for sure.

Paperwork Problems

At times the buyer chooses the freight shipper, but when it’s up to the manufacturer, ColdEdge uses Pilot Freight Services and Tazmanian Freight Systems to transport 1-2 major shipments per week, and FedEx, DHL, and UPS for a handful of smaller shipments.

“It’s not always the number of shipments or the size of the shipments that get us – it’s how complicated the paperwork is. We do service and warranty shipping which has to be precise to avoid paying duties and taxes again.” To handle the complicated paperwork, Sales and Services Coordinator Tatiana Reina occasionally has to spend hours managing a single shipment.

Relief in Sight? 

And the issues don’t just end there. Changes in international insurances are causing problems too. ColdEdge employees are no strangers to new challenges caused by pricing changes and inefficiencies in how matters are handled.

Though ColdEdge has dealt with its share of supply chain issues, hope may be on the horizon. President Biden announced in early December that he has stepped up efforts in two of the nation’s busiest ports in California to manage matters. Operating the two ports 24 hours a day, seven days a week is expected to resolve much of the current backlog.

Lauren Matthews