What is temperature controlled freight shipping?
January 28, 2016
Temperature controlled shipping, in the most basic terms, is the transport of goods that are sensitive to climate conditions. You want your produce fresh, your flowers blooming and your chocolate only melting in your mouth, right? Those items require special handling and storage during transport to maintain stable temperatures from dock to dock.
When you have temperature sensitive products to move, you have to ensure unaffected delivery. Standard shipments are perplexing enough with industry terminology and required documents, throw in items that need temperature protection and you get an additional checklist.
But, when you work with freight service providers equipped to manage diverse temperature controlled transportation, you can ship your perishable items with guidance from experts.
Let's take a look at how to effectively plan for temperature controlled freight shipping by prioritizing the sensitivity and value of shipments, recognizing limits of packaging, choosing the best packaging option and using a reliable shipping service.
Prioritizing freight temperature sensitivity and value.
To have the most efficient and cost-effective logistics in place, you must first identify critical shipping needs. Not all items are equal as far as temperature stability, speed and/or security requirements.
Distinguish perishable items from those that are not. The more influence temperature has on an item's stability, the more of an impact it is likely to have on the overall cost. For less sensitive items, standard shipping options may be appropriate (and more practical). A tailored logistics approach is recommended for high-value items.
What makes an item perishable?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that a shipment is perishable if its contents will deteriorate over a period of time if exposed to severe environmental conditions like extreme temperatures or humidity. Examples include (but are not limited to): pharmaceuticals, seafood, dairy, plants, meat, fruits and vegetables.
Refrigerated freight packaging limitations.
It's important to know that trucks moving refrigerated freight have less capacity. An extra layer of insulation in the walls reduces truck space. You should consider your packaging in relation to the smaller inside dimensions. The added weight of temperature control equipment also affects payload capability.
In order to maintain product temperature stability from origin to destination and at all points throughout, it's pertinent to address temperature guidelines with your carrier. Laying out all the specifics can ensure the proper parameters are used, such as the acceptable temperature range in degrees plus or minus the set point, and if it's Fahrenheit or Celsius.
To further secure highly temperature-sensitive items, there are temperature controlled docks. They ensure product quality by keeping freight in a temperature controlled environment until the truck is ready to move. Drivers should also be advised to keep doors closed until the very last possible moment to reduce alteration of the temperature inside the trailer, maintaining the cold chain.
The best packaging fit.
Your perishable items may be exposed to harsh environments like extreme temperatures or humidity, but careful packaging can protect them. Insulation is recommended to reduce transfer of heat through packaging container walls. The most commonly used insulation materials are expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, rigid polyurethane foam and reflective materials like radiant barrier films.
For some cool temperature-sensitive items, gel coolants and dry ice are ideal. Gel coolants are preferable over wet ice during transit as wet ice is heavier and has the potential to leak during transport. It is suggested to freeze coolants, products and the insulated container (if possible) before packaging.
If using dry ice to control temperature, you have to provide correct identification, classification, markings and labeling on outer packaging to comply with current requirements of the IATA. Dry ice is considered a dangerous good/hazardous material for air transport and requires special handling.
When shipping frozen items, it's also advised to have material (pads, cellulose wadding or paper towels) in the bottom of the packaging to absorb any liquids.
Using a trusted freight service provider.
When items need to ship at very specific temperatures, the company you choose can't be limited by knowledge or equipment access. A wide variety of integrated, temperature controlled shipping solutions offered by freight service providers allow you to consolidate temperature controlled truckload and LTL options. This gives your business options and can positively influence your budget.
There is a lot to know about the intricacies of managing temperature controlled freight, and freight service providers can share the load with you through their expertise and resources. It's also important to compare the competencies of services against your commodity's requirements as each has their own strength.
The primary benefits of partnering with a logistics expert include:
- Deep food and beverage knowledge
- Wide array of relationships
- A single point of contact for all of your temperature controlled truckload and LTL shipments
- Visibility to track and trace shipments
- Temperature controlled LTL services that cover the US and much of North America
While there are a lot of requirements to consider when handling temperature controlled freight shipments - with the proper tools, support and preparation, you can make sure your shipment is on the right track. As part of C.H. Robinson, one of the world’s largest freight service providers, we offer easy-to-use self-service tools and back them up with expert insights to help make shipping perishable items a more managable process for you. Get a quote on your freight today.
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