Whether it’s really cold or hotter than the hinges, temperature-controlled shipping plays a vital role in the supply chain. As the winter months carry on and the spring harvest season is on the horizon, now is a good time to stay ahead of the game when it comes to temperature-controlled shipping. From inclement weather, to the produce season preparation, to mass vaccine distribution, temperature-controlled shipping plays a larger role in the supply chain and logistics industry than you may think. Let’s go over some tips on how to pack and ship for temperature-controlled shipping.
Temperature-Controlled Shipping Items
Temperature-controlled freight shipping refers to anything that needs to remain at a specific temperature during transit. Produce, food, flowers and pharmaceutical items are often shipped via this method. This type of freight requires special handling to protect the integrity of the cargo while in the back of a freight truck.
Temperature-controlled shipping also refers to protecting sensitive items from external weather conditions. A route that takes your cargo through freezing cold conditions could mean you should opt for freeze protection services to keep your freight safe. If you’re shipping during the very hot summer months and your cargo is temperature sensitive, you may need to select temperature-controlled shipping, too. Damaged or spoiled cargo is not only money out of your business but it’s also products not getting to your customers. So, make it a win-win, and select temperature-controlled shipping for your temperature sensitive items.
Proper Packaging Is Key
To set your supply chain up for success means choosing the right packaging. The most common packaging for temperature-controlled freight includes:
- New corrugated boxes.
- Insulation (foam cooler, foam planks, thermal bubble wrap).
- Cushioning (bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foam).
- Temperature-monitoring device.
- Labels for hazardous materials (including dry ice).
Choosing the right coolant is also a vital step in the packaging process. The best coolants you should use for temperature-controlled freight are dry ice and gel packs. Traditional ice melts and could damage your freight.
What's the Difference in Coolants?
Dry ice is generally the best choice when shipping frozen items. With that in mind, never pack dry ice with live seafood or flowers. Additionally, do not let dry ice come into direct contact with any food items. As dry ice becomes warmer, it converts into carbon dioxide. Thus, packaging containing dry ice must have ventilation in order for the gas to escape.
Gel packs are the ideal coolant of choice for keeping goods between 32 and 60-degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you pack enough gel packs to keep your cargo at the ideal temperature range it needs to be within. To protect your cargo, be sure to always secure gel packs and similar coolants with tape. Additionally, include enough padding to further prevent movement within the package. This could include peanuts and bubble wrap.
This is especially important when shipping delicate items, such as flowers. Place a layer of packing material between the coolant and flowers to reduce damage.
For more information on other types of freight packaging, be sure to download our free Guide to Freight Packaging, you can explore your options and choose the packaging method that works best for your shipments.
Monitoring Goods During Transit
Consider add-ons for extra sensitive shipments to help you monitor the shipment during transit. For example, you can choose to add a temperature-monitoring device. This provides you with real-time updates of your item’s temperature. Remember, any additional services you choose will come at an additional cost, but these services will help ensure your cargo arrives safely and securely, giving you added peace of mind.
Additionally, you can add on services to receive delivery updates. This allows you to know exactly when your shipment has been delivered. It also provides delivery alerts, so you can make sure someone is there to receive the package upon delivery.
As mentioned before, freeze protection services ensure your freight won’t get too cold during transit. Some items that are susceptible to freezing are:
- Cleaning Detergents
Carrier Experience is Vital
Next, pick a carrier that has experience shipping temperature-controlled freight. This is especially important when shipping cold chain items like pharmaceuticals, biologics or lab specimens. Carriers with reputable experience know how to regulate temperature during transit and keep a temperature log, tracking your shipment's temperature every step of the way.
Additionally, temperature-sensitive items often need to arrive within a strict time frame. So, selecting the right carrier is important to ensure your item arrives on schedule. Be sure you have someone available to accept the delivery of your shipment, too.
Keep in mind that carriers are generally busier during the holidays, and shipments don’t always move over the weekend. If you have a shipment that needs to arrive by a certain date and time, be sure to let your carrier know your shipping needs before you ship your item.
Understand the Rules and Regulations
There are several rules and regulations to keep in mind when shipping temperature-controlled freight. For example, dry ice is actually considered a hazardous material. Therefore, the rules and regulations vary based on the amount of dry ice within the package, and you have to label your shipment properly to let the carrier know a hazardous material is inside the package.
Typically, U.S. shipments below 5.5 lbs. may be shipped with minimal package markings (as long as the items being shipped are not hazardous). In other words, simply marking the words “dry ice” on the packaging should be enough. On the other hand, packages containing dry ice and weigh more than 5.5lbs. must comply with Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or International Air Transportation Association (IATA) rules, depending on the mode of transportation.
Additionally, shipments containing pharmaceuticals, diagnostic specimens and biological specimens are subject to FDA and DEA regulations, as well as federal hazardous materials regulations. Furthermore, chemical shipments may be subject to federal hazardous materials regulations as well.
In short, rules and regulations vary depending upon what it is that you are shipping, its weight and more. It is important to understand the rules and regulations, or to work with a 3PL who knows the ins and outs, before sending your shipment.
Ship Your Temperature-Controlled Cargo
FreightCenter’s shipping experts can help ship your temperature-controlled shipment. With a network of reliable temperature-controlled shipping carriers and over 20 years of experience, we know the ins and outs of the cold chain industry. Let us help you choose the best cold chain carrier for the best rate and get your temperature-sensitive cargo to where it needs to be all year round!