Three common myths

Chris Bahr provides a temperature controlled freight checklist


When is the last time you considered the daily convenience of fridges and freezers? This modern appliance helps produce stay cold indefinitely which dramatically increases shelf life and reduces spoilage. Even less contemplated is that the produce in these fridges and freezers may have been transported from thousands of miles away and often have strict FDA or FSMA rules that must be met for consumer safety. To follow these guidelines, produce and other temperature-sensitive products need a reliable (and cool!) means of transportation, like temperature controlled trailers.

Temperature controlled freight is a type of transportation used to transport products that require specific temperatures to be maintained during transit. This type of freight can include products like flowers, cosmetics, meat, eggs, vegetables, valuable art, pharmaceuticals, electronics and much more. These high-tech trailers boast a built-in refrigeration system to ensure product quality from origin to destination and the ability to maintain product temperature during the entire shipping process.

Common temperature controlled freight myths
Even though temperature controlled freight is a necessary wheel in the modern economy, there are still some common misconceptions about this form of transportation. Armed with the information outlined in this article and a trusted full-service third-party logistics (3PL) provider that specializes in multimodal freight, your team can be prepared for any customer request – no matter the temperature requirements.

1) Only food and beverage need temperature controlled transportation
Temperature controlled freight services are used for many more products aside from just food and beverage. Plants, makeup, pharmaceuticals, and other personal care products are some of the other commonly transported goods that rely on refrigerated trucking. As an example, if cosmetics are not transported at room temperature, they can rapidly lose their quality. Insufficient humidity on a trailer with cosmetics can cause bacteria to multiply and risk fungus in the product. Temperature fluctuations of just two degrees can compromise pharmaceuticals, causing products to become ineffective or even potentially harmful to the patients who receive and consume them. Humidity can also impact fresh fruit and vegetables during transport since a high humidity is needed to keep produce fresh and crisp!

2) All products can be transported with a similar temperature
Some products can be negatively impacted if the trailer drops below freezing while other products are hardier. For example, beets and cabbages can withstand freezing and thawing but potatoes, tomatoes, and some cheeses are permanently damaged and cannot be sold to consumers. Because of this, air circulation is an extremely important factor in protecting refrigerated loads of perishable goods. Otherwise, the cool air will stagnate, and certain products can experience irreversible physical changes. Beyond produce, temperature controlled freight has the capacity to save lives! Certain medical products must be kept near room temperature while others, like live vaccines, must be kept at a chilly 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

3) Temperature controlled trailers are designed to raise and lower produce temperature
These trucking units are designed to help produce maintain a steady temperature, not to cool the product. Any cooling completed before the product is shipped is referred to in the industry as precooling. If an item is not pre-cooled and is placed on the trailer, it can raise the temperature in the trailer and risk spoilage for the entire load. The USDA handbook even touches on the fact that temperature controlled trailers cannot remove field heat out of produce. Due to this, operators are encouraged to shut the refrigeration unit off when loading from an open dock since leaving the doors open can result in ice forming on the unit, blocking the air circulation during transport.

Keep cool operations with the perfect partner
Third-Party Logistics (3PL) companies can boast the resources and knowledge to help customers reach specific transportation goals. Your 3PL provider should know how to efficiently move any refrigerated freight and should have the knowledge to keep the product safe during its journey from origin to destination. Since fresh fruit and vegetables typically have high consumer demand, logistics bottlenecks for temperature controlled freight can easily impact day to day life for millions. Additionally, temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical products are vital for the healthcare industry, and repercussions of slowdowns for this freight vertical can be felt long after they are resolved.

Choosing the right 3PL provider for temperature controlled shipments is essential to ensure swift and efficient flow of these crucial products that keep food on the table, medical patients well cared for, and ensure vital services stay operational. Now more than ever, businesses that routinely deal with this specialized freight offering should be looking for a 3PL company that keeps a cool head – and maybe a cool trailer to boot.

For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor.

TA Services
Chris Bahr is Vice President of Brokerage Operations at TA Services. Headquartered in Mansfield, Texas with offices located in strategic markets throughout North America, TA Services, Inc. has been operating for more than 30 years and provides a wide range of third-party logistics services including managed transportation, warehousing and distribution, multi-modal transportation brokerage and cross border logistics. TA Services is a division of Birmingham-based PS Logistics, LLC.
For further information, please visit: www.taservices.com