The Lowdown on Temperature-Controlled Shipping

It’s not something many entrepreneurs focus on early on, but the reality is that many products require shipping around the country and the globe these days and must be shipped safely and securely. Part of this is ensuring goods don’t get too hot or too cold in transit.

If you sell gear that’s particularly affected by temperature fluctuations or extremes, you must go to the lengths necessary to ensure items arrive intact at their destinations. This is where quality temperature-controlled shipping comes in. 

What is Temperature-Controlled Shipping?

Temperature-controlled shipping refers to logistics movements that maintain a specific temperature within the trucks or containers that move goods. Vehicles and containers aren’t impenetrable and are thus subject to temperature changes due to different weather conditions, including variations in humidity. In turn, this affects freight, often in negative ways. 

Some products have to stay at a set temperature or avoid significant temperature fluctuations to avoid damage, spoilage, limiting shelf life, etc. As a result, logistics carriers set up spaces dedicated to keeping temperatures at a set level throughout journeys. Also called “reefer” shipping because refrigeration is typically involved in maintaining temperatures, this movement also generally utilizes tech tools to maintain conditions and ensure standards are met. 

For example, many shippers use a quality temperature indicator to alert drivers and dispatchers if temperatures rise or fall out of the optimum range. This real-time monitoring and tracking helps minimize damage to sensitive goods in transit. 

When is This Shipping Needed?

Temperature-controlled shipping is for any products or materials that could get damaged or become ineffective if exposed to less-than-ideal temperatures or too much or too little humidity while traveling. This category includes all sorts of items that need special care. For instance, often shipped this way are:

  • Fresh and frozen foods 
  • Beverages
  • Other perishables
  • Electronics
  • Artworks and antiques
  • Medications and pharmaceuticals
  • Beauty products
  • Some furniture pieces
  • Various high-value items 

Touchpoints to Consider

Temperature-controlled shipping is essential when goods are in transit, whether they’re only traveling a short distance or going across the country or to the other side of the world. However, there are numerous other touchpoints to consider. 

When preparing products for transport to shipper locations or for shipper pickups, storage facilities may need to be temperature-controlled. Items likely require special facilities in transit to shipper locations and when sitting at the shipper’s storage facilities waiting to be loaded onto the next carrier. Plus, there’s the physical loading time to keep in mind. If you make, distribute, or carry sensitive goods, think about all the touchpoints in the logistics process where products may be vulnerable. 

Tips for Success with Temperature-Controlled Shipping

If you need to protect items as they move about, follow some tips for success. For example, keep in mind that these logistics processes are obviously more expensive than standard shipping, so only invest in the added care if products genuinely need it. Learn about the different types of temperature-controlled shipping, too. There are refrigerated vehicles with thermostatically-controlled cargo compartments and passive shipping container systems that use insulating materials combined with electronics to maintain temperatures on short journeys. 

Another option is the active shipping system which gets used on sea and air freight carriers. This setup involves much larger and more comprehensive thermostatically-controlled cargo containers powered by robust power systems such as internal batteries, large cooling fans or heating mechanisms, a ship’s onboard power supply, and so on. Talk to shippers about your products, the temperature range they can stay between, and journey lengths for advice on the best option(s) for item protection. 

Take your time choosing shippers, and don’t be afraid to ask them plenty of questions. Find out about their reliability percentages and talk to previous clients to get insights into the quality of service. Ask about what backup systems companies have in place and if they provide guarantees or insurances. Learn who you will communicate with if you hire a firm and how often you’ll get updates on shipments. Determine, too, the steps taken to mitigate risks to loads. Always compare quotes carefully and look for potential hidden fees and extra charges. 

Also, pack goods correctly to help them stay safe once they leave your premises and learn about rules and regulations regarding interstate and international shipments. Some packages may need to be opened and inspected at various points, which can affect temperature. Some items have to adhere to market standards regarding how they’re transported to be allowed to be sold.

The more information you can arm yourself with about temperature-controlled shipping, the more effective and streamlined you can make your operations. In turn, this will help you cut costs and avoid product losses. 

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.