Of all the lessons learned in the past few years as the effects of the global pandemic still rage on, one of the clearest has been the poor state of the domestic and international supply chain networks. Expedited services remain a popular focal point for shippers and transportation service providers. Within local supply chains, temperature-controlled freight transportation remains one of the most in-demand—and complicated—services. While demands for electronics, fuel, and other products fell sharply during lockdowns and pandemic recovery periods, the need for food and beverages, medical supplies, and other reefer cargo skyrocketed.
According to GlobeNewswire, “The global refrigerated goods market is expected to grow from $56.01 billion in 2021 to $62.47 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5%. The market is expected to grow to $92.38 billion in 2026 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3%.” This continual rise in demand for climate-controlled freight has positioned this niche shipping market to grow substantially in the coming years.
However, refrigerated truck transportation companies must be able to adapt and adjust to uncertain markets. Everything from the Russia-Ukraine conflict to weather anomalies such as La Nina and active hurricane seasons can impact supply chains. And while some cargo can absorb a day or two of delays, perishable goods cannot. The most significant issue with temperature-controlled freight is the short window of time available for delivery. For this reason, perishable goods shipping, F&B logistics, and shipping adaptability remain key issues refrigerator trucking companies must focus on within the supply chain, especially in light of supply chain trucking slowdowns.
What Is Temperature-Controlled Freight?
Any product or goods that have to be handled and shipped within a specific temperature range is considered temp-controlled cargo. Reefer transport companies are those shipping professionals who are experienced in handling and transporting climate-controlled freight.
Temperature-controlled freight works to bring the right trailer or shipping mode together with drivers who are experienced in handling this sort of sensitive cargo.
Cold and frozen freight transportation makes up a significant part of daily shipping supply chain cargo for trucking companies. With the bulk of cold cargo moving short distances or requiring highly specialized transportation for long-distance hauls, local markets and economies depend on successful reefer shipping options. These supply chain champions keep the market supplied and stocked even amid unprecedented disruption and upheaval.
Challenges Facing Cold and Frozen Freight Transportation
Climate-controlled freight hauling has challenges like every other niche within the transportation and shipping industry.
- Specialized handling is needed to quickly get the cargo on and off the vehicles.
- Specific temperature ranges can be a little a 10 degrees difference.
- Lack of available drivers who have the skills and experience needed for the freight.
- A limited number of trailers or vans can accommodate dedicated loads.
- Need for constant monitoring of temperature drawing transport and loading/unloading.
- Poor communications between drivers, customers, and management.
- Not enough automation to keep freight safe and secure during shipping.
- Unexpected disruptions and deviations can cause delays and delivery issues.
- Fluctuations with freight rates and related expenses and costs.
- Lack of a backup plan and poor response planning to deal with problems.
Refrigerator trucking companies must be able to overcome these common issues and partner with industry experts who understand the intricacies of cold cargo handling and shipping.
What Are the Common Types of Climate-Controlled Freight?
Temperature-controlled freight is something most people utilize daily, often without even realizing it. A range of commonly used items and products can fall under reefer shipments. Food and drinks, produce, and live animals are prominent examples. Products with expiration dates or that can spoil when they get too warm or ruin if they end up frozen are what most people think about when they hear the terms cold transportation.
However, perishable goods shipping and temperature-controlled shipping can include everyday items such as medications, paints, chemicals, electronics, plants, cosmetics, and raw materials.
Items that can become a fire or fume hazard or begin to separate or deteriorate if they get too hot or cold fall under the classification of reefer freight. Keeping up with these sorts of logistical concerns is one of the primary jobs of reefer truck drivers.
It takes experience and special training to safely handle and transport many types of climate-sensitive cargo. For this reason, refrigerated truck carriers are in high demand. This type of shipping usually comes with a premium price to offset the rush delivery and specialized handling it requires.
The Risks of Refrigerated or Frozen Freight Transport
Shippers specializing in climate-controlled freight must understand the risks associated with freight shipping solutions for this type of cargo. Along with everyday issues of delays and vehicle breakdowns, some risks are specific to temperature-controlled freight transportation.
- Issues with the cooling unit not functioning properly during transportation.
- Miss-handling of the cargo puts it at risk for spoilage or damages.
- Lack of real-time monitoring of the cargo whole in transit.
- Poor control of real-time temperatures by the driver.
- Lack of planning for how to manage the peak reefer driving seasons.
- Delays and weather anomalies cause extensive delays and stalling.
- Local conflicts or issues that impact the driver’s ability to complete delivery.
- Poor maintenance and upkeep on vehicles lead to slower transit times.
- Issues that arise at the final destination and cause delays with unloading.
- Issues at the point of origin lead to delays with cargo loading procedures.
- Overall lack of preparedness to safely and effectively transport reefer goods.
These are the kinds of issues that reefer transport companies must keep in the back of their minds when dealing with temperature-controlled cargo.
How Proactive Management Reduces Risk.
Managing temperatures to a safe and appropriate range present a unique challenge for refrigerated truck transportation companies. Optimizing reefer transportation and shipping services requires careful planning and management. Logistics managers and shippers can save time and money with the right approach and policies in place.
Managing reefer delivery services involves:
- Locating a suitable carrier.
- Choosing the correct shipping mode
- Pptimizing the best route for each order.
As highlighted by a February 2022 piece by Logistics Management, “it’s clear that the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of global supply chains—a problem the logistics industry will continue to face this year. A high degree of flexibility and close cooperation between all parties in the supply chain is required to be well prepared to respond to the crisis and, hopefully, to a post-COVID era.”
Proactive management of these and other critical areas within the reefer transport niche can make the entire process more streamlined.
Reducing the risks associated with climate-controlled freight comes down to solid management, capable drivers, knowledgeable consumers, and a collaborative environment.
Tips to Improve Temperature-Controlled Freight
Shippers who specialize in climate-controlled freight know that it takes a unique set of skills, tools, equipment, and management to be successful. Here are some driver tips to make temp-sensitive cargo transportation more efficient.
- Collaborate Effectively With Real-Time Communications – Minor issues and delays can quickly become significant problems without good communications and automated platforms. It takes longer to address the concerns and get the shipment back on track.
- Keep Equipment Clean and Well-Maintained – Perishable goods shipping is only as good as the equipment used to transport it. Trucks that are well maintained and taken care of have fewer breakdowns and can better control temperatures while on the road.
- Pre-Cool the Freight Before Loading the Truck – A vital step for reefer transportation is ensuring cargo has already reached the ideal temperature before loading. Likewise, the vehicle must be at temperature before loading the cargo.
- Optimize the Route for Fater Transporation Times – Managing temperature-controlled freight often means finding the fastest route while considering things like road work, traffic jams, local weather conditions, and driver accessibility.
- Prioritize Reefer-Specialty Vendors and Trucking Companies – Shipping managers must always look for the right driver or carrier partner. Finding the best-refrigerated truck carriers makes it easier to match freight loads and keep trucks running at total capacity.
- Stay Complaint With Requirements and Regulations – The final tip for better reefer transportation success is to ensure compliance with all local and national regulations. Securing easy customs clearance will reduce delays and help ensure on-time delivery.
As the frozen and reefer freight transportation industry continues to deal with high levels of demand and ongoing disruptions, freight companies must continue to work to improve shipping services to overcome capacity crunches and other issues.
Get Control Over Temperature-Controlled Freight With AMX Logistics
Refrigerated truck carriers, shippers, freight brokers, and drivers work hard to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and efficiently. In the current market, with ongoing disruptions, and an unstable future prediction for the year ahead, the need for innovative temperature-controlled freight transportation and delivery is more critical than ever. Consumers rely on shippers to keep shelves stocked with food and keep supplies of medications and other essentials readily available despite supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions.
We rely on refrigerator trucking companies and cold-shipping services more than most realize. Shippers and supply chain managers can make climate-controlled freight transportation faster and easier by partnering with industry leaders. Request a quote with AMX Logistics today to maximize perishable goods shipping logistics and service management.