A Few Tips for Temperature Controlled Shipping

Temperature Controlled

When you need to transport temperature-sensitive items such as perishable food items or medications, not just any carrier will do. You need a carrier that specializes in something called temperature controlled shipping.

If you are unfamiliar with this mode of shipping, you probably have some questions. You might be wondering just what exactly is temperature controlled shipping, when does it need to be utilized, and lastly, how to get started.

But fret not, we've got you covered! In this article, we are going to answer all those questions for you. Additionally, we will be throwing you a few pro tips along the way.


What is temperature controlled shipping?

Even the largest, most durable trucks are not impenetrable. They’re subject to temperature changes and weather conditions that can affect the freight that it is carrying. The best shipping companies will, of course, do their best to prevent weather from damaging your goods. Most of them actually go to good measures to ensure that things like heat, rain, or sleet aren't affecting your shipment.

But a good old truck can only go so far against extreme conditions, like wild temperature changes, for example. When your products need to remain at a certain temperature to avoid damage or spoilage, a truck dedicated to temperature control is necessary.

You don’t want your handmade chocolate products to melt before reaching your customer in Arizona. Likewise, you don’t want your fresh produce to spoil on a journey from the cool climate of Colorado to dry heat of Arizona. 

That’s where temperature controlled shipping steps in. Also called “reefer” shipping, these refrigerated LTL trucks have special technology to maintain a specific temperature range within the truck.

The best companies will also utilize real-time monitoring and tracking, so dispatchers can track temperature and make changes on the fly, as necessary. For example, if goods are supposed to be shipped below 32 degrees, the driver, dispatcher, and shipper will be alerted if the truck rises to 33 degrees. This minimizes temperature errors and helps to prevent damage to sensitive items.


When do you need temperature controlled shipping?

Temperature controlled shipping is more generally more expensive than standard shipping, which is why you don’t want to just assume that it’s the best choice for all of your goods.

So what kinds of sensitive goods require a temperature controlled environment while in transit? Take a look at the bulleted list below to get an idea of what should really be shipped with this method:


  • Fresh food
  • Frozen food
  • Beverages
  • Perishables
  • Medicines and pharmaceuticals
  • Artwork
  • Electronics
  • High-value items


Even a small change in temperature for the duration of the shipment can impact these kinds of goods. A good rule of thumb: if you’re shipping anything that could be damaged if you left it outside, then you want to ship it in a temperature controlled trucks.


How much does temperature controlled shipping cost?

You’ll generally have to pay a premium each time you ship with this method. However, if you have sensitive goods, temperature control is an absolute must. Below, we will get into where the premium comes from so you can incorporate this into your existing transport budget.  

Where do these shipping costs come from?

Different types of freight require different temperature needs. For example, chilled beverages are usually held between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while frozen fish might be shipped in 0 to -10 degrees. So, even though both types of freight require temperature control, they don’t require the same temperature—so they can’t go in the same truck.

This makes shipment planning a little more complicated than traditional dry shipping, especially if shipping via LTL (you’re sharing the truck with other customers). LTL route planners have to not only fill up trucks moving from one location to another with a few stops along the way, but they also need to fill those trucks with items of the same temperature.

Reefers also don’t operate on the same LTL schedule as other trucks. Because there are time constraints on perishables, these restricted timelines that put pressure on shipping companies. The intricacies of this planning process often create an increase in cost.

Additionally, temperature controlled trucks generally cost more to operate. They require more technology and energy to maintain the temperature as well as real-time data tracking systems to regulate temperature and alert to changes. This incurs a larger overhead for shipping companies, which gets transferred in part to your customers.

Moreover, there isn’t a large supply of reefer trucks. In our current trucking capacity crisis, reefers are in higher demand than ever. Restricted access to refrigerated shipping further makes the transport planning process more challenging—and more expensive.


Here's a couple of temperature controlled shipping pro tips for you!


Evaluate your goods.

Which of your products need to be shipped in a temperature controlled environment? How often are you sending these products? Is this your business’s main product or is this a rare occurrence?

You want to have an idea of what your temperature controlled needs are in the short term as well as the long-term. The types of products and frequency of shipment will determine the type of plan you’ll need to create with your shipper. You’ll also want to have an idea about the temperature your goods will need to be maintained during shipment.


Know your packaging.

You’ll also need to consider how temperature control impacts packaging. You can’t just throw high-value items or perishables in the back of a temperature controlled truck and call it a day. It’s still advised to utilize effective packaging materials to keep your goods safe.

For example, you might want to use insulation materials like EPS foam or reflective materials to reduce the transfer of heat and humidity. To keep items cold, you might want to add gel coolants or dry ice. When shipping frozen or wet items, you’ll also want absorbent material like pads or cellulose wadding to absorb any liquids or spills.  

You’ll want to research different packing materials and take these costs into account in your shipping budget.


Final Thoughts

There’s a lot that goes into temperature controlled shipping. But you shouldn’t have to do it on your own. Let Redwood Logistics be your ultimate transportation partner. With us, you can transport your sensitive goods with confidence.

Redwood Logistics has made the promise to always utilize technology advantages to provide innovative solutions for our customers’ supply chain. Temperature controlled shipping is just one of our services that are poised to make your shipping experience a great one. Reach out to us today and let us help you with your temperature sensitive shipments!