Refrigerated shipping, also known as cold chain logistics, is the process of transporting refrigerated goods from one place to another, enabling the safe transport of temperature-sensitive goods and products along the supply chain. It can be done by land, air, or sea transport. Refrigerated products are usually perishable products, such as food or pharmaceuticals, which must be kept at a very specific temperature to preserve their quality.
When shipping these products, care must be taken to ensure that they are kept at the right temperature for the entire journey. Special refrigerated containers, reefer trailers, and reefer trucks are used to achieve this.
Packing and transporting refrigerated goods is a delicate process that, done properly, can save a business time and money. But what is the best way to pack and transport refrigerated goods? This article aims to outline the basics.
Materials used for packing refrigerated goods
When packing refrigerated goods, insulation is an essential part. The packaging used must keep the heat out, allowing products to remain cold or frozen. The following is a roundup of the most commonly used packing materials for refrigerated goods:
- Styrofoam is one option for packaging refrigerated products. It is made of polystyrene foam, which deters heat because it is mainly made of air, making it a great insulator for frozen or cold products. Styrofoam boxes or cut sheets are available in various sizes and thicknesses.
Insulated and air-filled box liners
- Insulated and air-filled box liners are another option for protecting your shipment and keeping it cool throughout transportation.
- Dry ice is normally used for frozen products, it comes in snow, pellet, and block form which are all effective in maintaining a freezing cold temperature. The amount of dry ice you need depends on the size of the container, the volume of your goods and the duration of the shipment. However, it is important to remember that dry ice is a hazardous material made of frozen carbon dioxide and must be handled with care, and a label must be placed on the outside of any package to warn that there is dry ice inside.
- Gel packs can be used for goods that need to be kept cold but not frozen, and are manufactured so that they can fit in tight places around the container of your product. They will keep food cold for extended periods of time, but it is still advisable to choose fast shipping options. Gel packs are also safer to handle than dry ice and do not require additional labels.
- Other options for packing refrigerated goods are foam bricks, solid plastics, and pliable packs. Foam bricks are normally used in a Styrofoam container and can be frozen for multiple uses. Solid plastic packs are hard and inflexible, and, like foam bricks, can also be used more than once for Styrofoam containers. Last of all, pliable packs are usually used if you need to fit a freeze pack in a tight place. They are flexible and ideal for placing on the sides or top of an insulated container.
Shipping refrigerated goods
Once you have decided how to package your shipments, the next step is to decide how to transport your goods. Refrigerated transport is an essential sector of the global food and pharmaceutical supply chain. Refrigerated vessels are equipped with sophisticated refrigeration systems that can maintain a wide range of temperatures. Refrigerated transport helps ensure the safety of perishable goods by keeping them at a constant temperature to avoid spoilage.
The shipping process for refrigerated goods must also be carefully planned and coordinated. One of the biggest challenges of refrigerated transport is keeping temperature-sensitive products at a constant temperature throughout their journey, especially when goods are shipped in different vehicles, such as trucks, trains, and ships. The temperature inside the shipping container must be carefully monitored and controlled at all times.
Another aspect to be aware of is the temperatures your shipment travel in during transit. It is important to look out for weather anomalies to avoid complications, and to be aware that temperatures differ substantially depending on the time of year and where the shipment travels through and to.
Refrigerated containers, also known as reefers, are an important part of the cold chain. Reefers are temperature-controlled containers that transport perishable goods at a controlled temperature. They maintain a constant temperature, typically between 0°C and 10°C, using refrigeration units.
The use of reefers makes it possible to transport goods over long distances, as well as across borders. Reefers are often used alongside other cold chain solutions, such as packaging solutions such as those mentioned above, and temperature-controlled warehouses. When used together, these solutions provide a complete cold chain solution, ensuring that goods are kept at the correct temperature from the time of production until they reach consumers.
Refrigerated transport can be a complex and difficult process. However, if the shipping process is carefully planned and coordinated, it is possible to ship perishable goods successfully.