What Is Temperature Controlled Shipping? 

Also known as climate controlled shipping, temperature controlled shipping is the transportation of cargo that needs to be consistently maintained at a certain temperature. The cargo gets preserved at a specific temperature throughout the shipping process, from storage to transportation, all the way until it arrives at its destination. 

Why Is Temperature Controlled Freight Important? 

Not everything can be packed up and shipped in a normal container. The most common types of temperature sensitive shipments include: perishable foods, plants, and pharmaceuticals. It is crucial for those products to be in temperature controlled packaging, as even a few degrees of temperature difference can negatively affect them, especially pharmaceuticals. 

Perishable foods such as meats, fish, dairy products, and even fresh produce require climate controlled shipping for safe consumption. Pharmaceuticals, like the COVID-19 vaccine, need to be stored in incredibly low temperatures, or else will be rendered completely useless.

What Are the Main Types of Temperature Controlled Shipping? 

  1. Refrigerated Trailers and Warehouses
    Since trailers and warehouses are managed by thermostats, this method works incredibly well for temperature controlled freight that needs to be maintained at a specific temperature. Smaller vehicles rely on the engine for power, and larger ones rely on external power units and electrical backups. 

  2. Dry Ice
    Dry ice was actually one of the first methods used in cold chain freight transportation! Dry ice can stay cold for long periods of time, and is non-toxic, which makes it ideal for shipping perishables. But it needs to be handled with extreme care, as dry ice can cause painful ice burns, and can potentially lead to asphyxiation in small, unventilated compartments. 

  3. Gel Packs
    Gel ice packs are reusable and durable. Typically the poly gel packs can provide protection for products that need to be refrigerated, and can be a good alternative to use in place of dry ice. They are also more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly, as a one-time purchase can be reused multiple times. 

  4. Insulated Packaging
    Insulated mailers, envelopes, and box liners can also be used for temperature controlled packaging. Some liners on the market are created with flexible metallized insulating materials, which provide high levels of thermal protection. And since they are usually collapsible, liners also take up less space when not in use, which can be crucial in times of warehouse capacity shortages

What Are Some Regulations That Climate Controlled Shipping Need to Follow? 

In regards to pharmaceuticals and foodstuff, FDA and DEA regulations on food safety only increase by the year, and temperature controlled freight needs to continuously adapt to the new rules in order to stay lucrative. Furthermore, depending on a product's origin and destination, there could be a myriad of international regulations that the shipment needs to follow. 

The temperature controlled shipping vehicles also need to be qualified for their operating environment. They need to be able to properly manage the equipment and be capable of mapping out routes that will not damage the vehicle.  

What Are the Limitations of Climate Controlled Shipping?

  1. Holds Less Capacity Than Regular Containers
    In order for climate controlled shipping to go smoothly, the containers and ships need temperature control equipment, as well as a few extra layers of insulation to maintain the correct climate (either refrigerated or heated). And unfortunately, that does result in less space for cargo. 

  2. Has to Follow More Rules and Regulations 
    As mentioned above, temperature controlled freight has to follow stricter shipping regulations, which differ between countries. Depending on a product's origin and destination, the process to figure out whether or not goods meet regional and federal regulations can be time consuming and limiting. 

Do You Need Any Freight Forwarding Help? Contact Us! 

Our real-time freight visibility and container tracking features will show you where your containers are, and how they're holding up. If you need any assistance with freight forwarding, contact SFI today, and we'll take care of your shipping needs. Email us at info@sfi.com or call us at (909) 594-3400.