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Your Guide to Shipping Temperature Controlled Items

Temperature controlled freight shipping anything that needs to remain at a specific temperature. Produce, food, flowers and pharmaceutical items are often shipped via this method. This type of freight requires special handling, which begins with packaging.

Set your freight up for success by packing your items with care. Let's break down everything you need to know about packaging your sensitive shipment.

Choose the Right Packaging

To start, shipping success begins with choosing the right packaging. When packing your temperature sensitive package, keep the following points in mind:

  • Choose packaging that keeps heat out and coolness in (insulated and refrigerated)
  • Sturdy insulated foam containers work well for food, flowers and frozen items
  • The thicker the foam, the less coolant you’ll need
  • Insulated foam planks, thermal bubble wrap and other sturdy items need less cooling
  • Pack all foam coolers and planks within new and sturdy corrugated boxes
  • Hire professionals to package any healthcare shipments that must maintain a specific temperature
  • Chose a thermostat-controlled refrigerated (TCP) container for especially sensitive shipments. It is powered by an internal power source.

Common Packaging for Temperature Controlled Freight

You may need several of the following items when shipping temperature controlled freight:

  • New corrugated box
  • Refrigerant (gel packs, dry ice)
  • 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

A coolant helps to keep your item at the right temperature during transit. The specific requirements for your shipment will vary depending upon several factors.

Traditional Ice

Traditional ice is never a good option when shipping freight. Always use dry ice or gel packs. Traditional ice melts, and could cause damage during transit.

Dry Ice

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

Gel packs are the ideal coolant of choice for keeping goods between 32 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.

Monitor 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.

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.

Additionally, FreightCenter also offers freeze protection services. This add-on ensures that your freight item will not get too cold during transit. This is especially useful when traveling across country during winter months. The following items are susceptible to freezing:

  • Dyes
  • Paints
  • Glues
  • Pastes
  • Grease/Oils
  • Cleaning Detergents
  • Solutions
  • Inks
  • Glycerol

Select a Carrier with Experience

Next, pick a carrier that has experience shipping temperature controlled freight. This is especially important when shipping cold chain items. Examples of cold chain items are pharmaceuticals, biologics or lab specimens.

Carriers with experience know how to regulate temperature during transit. Additionally, they have proven experience handling similar items with care. These carriers keep a temperature log, tracking your shipment's temperature every step of the way. Additionally, add-on services, such as temperature-monitoring, provide you with real-time notifications of your shipment’s current temperature.

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. Keep in mind that shippers are generally busier during the holidays, and don’t always move over the weekend.

Understand the Rules and Regulations

There are several rules and regulations to keep in mind when shipping temperature controlled freight. Dry ice, for example, is actually considered to be hazardous. The rules and regulations vary based on the amount of dry ice within the package.

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 5.5 pounds must comply with Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or International Air Transportation Association (IATA) rules, depending on the mode of transportation.

Furthermore, shipments containing pharmaceuticals, diagnostic specimens and biological specimens are subject to FDA and DEA regulations, as well as federal hazardous materials regulations. Additionally, 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 Item

FreightCenter’s shipping experts can help ship your temperature controlled shipment. With strategic partnership and over 20 years of experience, we know the ins and outs of the industry. Let us help you choose the best carrier for the best rate. Call 844-212-7447 to speak with one of our agents today.

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