Winter brings with it many challenges for the shipping and logistics industry – keeping cargo from freezing is just one of them. Yet, protecting your freight from winter’s low temperatures can be one of the most challenging seasonal obstacles you face. Shipments of beverages and other liquids stand to sustain the most damage from freezing, because their containers will burst as the frozen liquid expands. However, plenty of other cargo can be damaged by freezing, including things like batteries, flour, and cosmetics.
You’re not helpless to stop your freight from freezing, though. Temperature-controlled shipping can help you get your freight to its destination without freezing damage. Plan your route carefully to ensure that your freight spends as little time as possible in low temperatures. Insulate your freight to protect it during the cold, and ship it during the week so it doesn’t sit idle.
You absolutely shouldn’t be shipping in normal, non-temperature-controlled dry trucks during the winter, unless your freight has been well-insulated against the cold. You have two options for temperature-controlled shipping: refrigerated trucks and heated dry trucks. You’ll need to understand your freight and its shipping requirements in order to determine which kind of temperature-controlled shipping is best for your freight.
Some items, like live seafood, for example, may need to be kept cold, but can’t be allowed to freeze. Refrigerated trucks are perfect for shipping these items, even in the winter, as they will keep them at the desired temperature range. Other freight, like flour or coffee, can withstand higher temperatures. These items can be shipped on a heated dry truck to keep them from getting too cold.
Cold temperatures affect most of the U.S. during the winter months. However, some parts of the country are going to be warmer than others, and it might be beneficial to plan your route so that your cargo travels through warm areas, if possible. You’ll also need to be cognizant of temperature swings throughout the day as your cargo travels along its proposed route. In some areas, temperatures can fluctuate by as many as 50 degrees in a single day – for example, in the desert, cargo will need to be prepared to withstand both the warm daytime temperatures and the freezing nighttime temperatures.
Just as shipping freight in insulated containers with cold packs in the summer keeps it cold, shipping your freight in insulated packaging during the winter protects it from the cold. Some items, like live reptiles and fish, will definitely need to be shipped with hot packs in an insulated container. You can use cold packs in an insulated container to keep items like beverages or fresh meat at the ideal temperature range.
A thick styrofoam cooler is ideal for packing temperature-sensitive items for shipping. Include cold or hot packs as needed, and include freeze indicators so you can monitor your freight’s temperature and get a notification if it starts to get too cold. Place the styrofoam cooler inside an outer cardboard box. Pack styrofoam panels, thermal bubble wrap, or air pillows between the cooler and the cardboard box to keep it from rattling around in shipment. Cover pallets with insulated blankets and pallet covers once the cargo is loaded into the truck.
If the freight you’re shipping this winter has to be kept above freezing at all times or risk damage, you need to make sure it reaches its destination in a timely manner. That means using the fastest shipping option you can and shipping during the middle of the week. That way, your freight doesn’t sit idle somewhere, where it might become vulnerable to the cold temperatures. Imagine a truck full of your temperature-sensitive freight sitting idle at a warehouse, and your freight getting cold inside of it, because it was shipped on a Thursday and didn’t get to its destination before the warehouse staff went home for the weekend.
Try to plan your shipping schedule so that freight goes out at the beginning of the week and is delivered by the weekend, thereby ensuring that freight reaches its destination as quickly as possible. The faster your freight reaches its destination, the less room there is for error in terms of protecting it from the weather.
Freezing winter temperatures can do a number on your freight if you’re not careful to protect it. Use insulation and temperature-controlled shipping to protect your freight, so you can continue making your customers happy.
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