Maintaining the proper temperature during cold chain logistics is essential to avoid spoilage and waste, leading to a bad client experience. Even though it sounds straightforward, there are many things to consider when handling food, pharmaceuticals, and other types of loads that require special care, like regulations, time, and strict procedures.
Benefits of refrigerated transportation
Many benefits come with this type of transportation, but the essential ones are protection and variety (link to reefer freight page).
- Protection: As you’re transporting sensitive freight, using a temperature-controlled vehicle will provide the protection your products need to ensure they won’t spoil, and they’re delivered in optimal conditions to the end-user.
- Variety: Many products require temperature control. Reefer trucks are not just used for food; they can also be used for pharmaceuticals, plants, and even art.
Products that require cold chain logistics
Some of the most common products that require cold chain logistics are:
- Dairy products
- Agricultural products
Best practices for cold chain logistics
Understanding what to do and what not to do with time and temperature-sensitive freight will help you harmonize the process between the parties involved to provide the reliability your customers expect. Always considering the specific procedures, the adequate equipment, and complying with regulations is a must when providing these services.
Recently, there’s been a high demand for different pharmaceuticals to combat chronic diseases due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And here’s where transportation companies must step up their game and provide trustworthy services, hauling potentially life-saving freight.
Dos and don’ts of cold chain logistics
Working with delicate freight requires a specific set of aspects that must be considered to deliver the products safely and on time. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of cold chain logistics.
- Open your truck’s doors only when the vehicle is ready.
Although time is of the essence, it’s crucial to have everything ready before opening the doors of your refrigerated vehicle. If you leave them open for longer than it’s required, the temperature may increase, and the vehicle will not be in optimal conditions to receive the sensitive products.
Pro tip: Plan our every movement. Be diligent and track times for onboarding and offboarding delicate freight.
- Ensure your products are in the proper temperature in every step of the process.
There are many steps you must take to deliver your freight. It’s important to keep your freight cool during its journey and the onboarding and offboarding processes. Use cooling products to ensure your freight is handled correctly during every part of the process. Depending on the type of products you’re transporting, you’ll pick and choose from the following products:
- Gel packs: These are most used for pharmaceuticals.
- Dry ice: It’s used for pharmaceuticals, dangerous materials, and food. A major benefit of dry ice is that is does not melt when in contact with air.
- Liquid nitrogen: Mostly used to transport biological cargo like organs.
- Insulated quilts: They can be used for many types of products to keep them frozen.
- Run regular tests to check your systems.
Testing your equipment constantly will avoid any technical problems along the way. Knowing that your reefer truck is functioning correctly will help you feel safe while transporting sensitive freight and provide your clients the best services. It’s essential to position the probes close to the products, not on the door since you want to track the product’s temperature as accurately as possible.
- Verify your truck’s temperature during the journey.
Apart from checking the temperature before onboarding your freight, it’s crucial to check up on the temperature during the entire journey, especially if it’s a longer freight. Be aware of the alerts your truck provides and make the proper arrangements if necessary.
- In case of having different temperatures for each product, making sure the products are stored in the right compartment.
In some cases, you’ll need to transport different types of products in the same reefer truck. This entails a more detailed approach where you’ll need to make sure each item is placed in the right compartment, avoiding confusion and possible spoilage. Order and clarity are essential if you’re working with products that require different temperature settings.
- Always have backup plans!
Transporting time and temperature-sensitive goods requires a lot of planning. Make sure you have a well-thought-out plan for every step of the way, as well as a plan B and even C that will ensure you deliver your freight promptly and with the best quality possible. For instance, if you know your truck must pass through a busy area where there are always traffic jams, make sure you search for alternate roads that are quicker and make up for the lost time.
Now let’s review some everyday actions companies make that could be detrimental for their overall performance during the transportation of time and temperature-sensitive freight.
- Don’t store your products on the floor.
Considering how sensitive this type of freight is, you need to store it within your truck correctly. The floor is not an ideal spot for your cargo since it will block air circulation, which can cause temperature issues. Also, the floor of your truck is less stable. Your products may start moving around, which may cause more problems.
- Lack documentation or outdated documentation.
Having the correct documentation in place during all the phases of your journey is essential. You must log in the required information for your receiver to check and if the products are in good condition. In many cases, this part of the process is neglected or forgotten. Having everything logged on your platform will allow the compliance process to flow easier and give the receiver the information they require. Nowadays, logging in this information has become essential, and most companies are demanding it.
- Incorrect packaging.
Packaging is a significant part of the entire process. As a carrier or a truck driver, it must be considered to avoid having any issues during the product’s journey. In many cases, drivers may not have access to the loading dock; they must record it and specify on the BOL to not be responsible for any issues. If they can see what’s being loaded, they must be alert and check the packaging, and if anything is wrong, they must report it. Packaging may affect the hauling stage, so it’s essential to keep it in mind before starting the journey.
- Interrupted temperatures.
Having variation in the temperatures is a component that will affect the quality and safety of the products. This may happen for various reasons, for instance, if drivers are constantly opening and closing the doors because they have multiple deliveries in one day. If this is the case, drivers must ensure the trailer goes back to the required temperature every time they start their journey again.
When transporting this type of freight, it’s essential to deliver the goods on time. It’s critical to avoid having delays because they may cause temperature issues or reduce the shelf life of some of the products you’re transporting. Delays may happen in many parts of the process, but they usually occur during loading or delivery inspections. Considering these are the moments where delays happen, you must try to accelerate the process in other stages of the journey to buy some time and deliver on time.
- Messy trailers.
Cleaning your trailer is essential. If something spills or falls on the floor and is not properly cleaned, microbial growth like mold may occur. Here’s where it’s essential to clean your trailer constantly. Handling sensitive freight like food and pharmaceuticals will require a clean space to maintain the best quality and provide fresh goods to the end-user.
There are many other practices companies can implement or should avoid when transporting time and temperature-sensitive freight. Considering the mentioned above will allow you to have a more harmonized process and avoid spoiling food or potentially life-saving pharmaceuticals. It’s essential for companies that transport this type of freight to apply these recommendations rigorously to provide the best services possible.