The Ultimate Guide to Temperature Controlled Logistics

Jun 23, 2023

When it comes to perishable products like food, medicine, or biomaterials (i.e., eggs, embryos, sperm), we don’t think much about how they got to their final destination. Most often, we overlook its journey and buy the essentials we need.

Yet, one mistake, like a truck being 2 degrees warmer than it should be, can result in massive waste. In fact, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) says that if food wastage were a country, it would rank third in carbon emissions. Many are looking at temperature-controlled transportation to reduce the likelihood of this happening.

What is temperature-controlled logistics?

Temperature-controlled logistics is the process of maintaining and transporting perishable goods in refrigerated vehicles. These vehicles often have independently powered units that keep temperature-sensitive goods in a cooling apparatus.

This aids in preserving fruits, vegetables, cosmetics, or medicinal products at an adequate temperature in warmer climates.

Keeping products cold can either begin with the product packing itself or the insulation of the temperature-controlled transportation unit. This is what’s known as passive and active regulation.

  • Passive regulation consists of packing items in polystyrene or other materials that provide insulation. Think of it as an icebox—once you put your items inside, the temperature will remain cold at first. But extreme temperatures will soon warm it up, affecting anything that’s inside. Hence, passive containers are good for shorter routes.
  • Active regulation is when the packing regulates temperature—like an automatic cooling system. This type of temperature regulation is done with refrigerated vehicles that carry internal batteries.

It’s crucial you consider factors such as transit and buffer time and temperature range, amongst others, before deciding on which temperature-controlled shipping services to choose.

What is the Cold Chain Management Process?

The cold chain management process varies from your typical supply chain. This involves the safe transportation of medical supplies, pharmaceutical products, and other perishable goods in a cold storage unit. The entire cold chain management process also includes the following:

  • Proper storage.
  • Adequate packaging.
  • Reliable tracking and transportation.
  • Efficient customs clearance.
  • Safe and secure delivery of products.

In these refrigeration units, the temperature range can be from two degrees Celsius down to negative 70 degrees Celsius.

Challenges in Temperature Controlled Transportation

Although temperature-controlled logistics brings a plethora of opportunities in the import and export world, it comes with its challenges. Below we go through some of the most common ones.

Unreliable pharmaceutical logistics

The result of incorrect handling and transportation of medical supplies can have serious consequences. From freezing to ambient temperatures, every medical supply may differ.

According to a survey run by the Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News, supply chain experts agree that: of temperature-sensitive products shipped, 51% were ambient, 31% were refrigerated, 17% were frozen, and 32% should not be allowed to freeze.

Knowing this, it gets tricky when a variety of goods need to be shipped, but the temperature variation is so drastic. Some other factors that greatly impact medical supplies include:

  • Humidity.
  • Freezing temperatures.
  • Sunlight.
  • Vibration.
  • Shocks.
  • Time.

Other potential delays will also significantly decrease the chances of safe transport.

Different regulations

Each region has its own regulations, compliance mandates, and enforcement agencies when it comes to temperature-controlled transportation. Thus, you must get familiar with common challenges in this shipping industry.

Regulations are becoming a reality to tackle the environmental impact. Refrigerant gases like Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), industrial chemicals used for cooling and refrigeration, contribute to high greenhouse gas emissions. The EU and the US have put limits on their production and use.

Another regulation example is the International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH). It establishes guidelines on an international level. On the other hand, the United States has its own Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that regulates cold-chain food regulations.

The varied regulations can cause additional geographical obstacles and will affect the overall cost.

Lack of sustainability

Sustainability is a prominent challenge in the cold chain industry. Temperature-controlled transportation emits a lot of greenhouse gases. Although these emissions decreased by 1-3% after the pandemic, transportation is still a leading cause of greenhouse gases.

To add to that, temperature-controlled transportation uses 20% more fuel than other heavy vehicles because of the refrigeration equipment. The main problems are the high power consumption and fossil fuels the refrigeration unit uses to keep cool.

Many food and pharmaceutical companies are working to reduce their carbon emissions to be more sustainable. It’s important to work with providers who care about sustainability.

Food spoilage

This one’s a given—but we can’t stress its importance more. Rotten food compromised en route can have huge repercussions and costly recalls. These products require tracking, temperature and humidity control, and minimal rest periods.

The Geography of Transport Systems indicates there are four temperature standards when shipping in temperature-controlled transportation:

  • Deep freeze (-25 to -30 Celsius). This temperature range is the lowest that conventional refrigerated units can maintain. It’s mostly used for transporting seafood like shrimp and ice cream.
  • Frozen (-10 to -20 Celsius). Temperature-sensitive goods like frozen beef, poultry, pork, frozen cakes, or bread also fall within this temperature range.
  • Chill (2 to 4 Celsius). This range comprises the standard temperatures in a refrigerator and is commonly used to transport fruit, vegetables, and fresh meat as it confers optimal shelf life without freeze damage.
  • Banana (12 to 14 Celsius). This temperature range is chosen for one of the world’s most-produced fruit that usually has its ripening controlled during shipping. It is also used for most tropical fruits (oranges and pineapples) and vegetables (tubers such as potatoes).

Deploying more advanced supply chain solutions can reduce the food waste problem by $150 billion every year, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Customs Delays

John Coleman, Business Unit Director at YSDS Life Science mentions that, “The product gets held in customs, making it impossible for the receiving terminal to keep the product within the correct controlled specific temperature interval.

Whilst we can do a lot to minimise the risk of a product getting seized by customs, we can never guarantee that it won’t happen. If it happens, we will have done everything we can to ensure that a temperature deviation won’t occur.

Another factor that causes customs delays includes insufficient paperwork.

Benefits of Shipping in a Temperature-Controlled Freight

Temperature-controlled transportation provides several advantages. No matter the product, maintaining a certain temperature throughout the entire process is crucial to preserving product quality. Here are some key benefits of shipping in a temperature-controlled freight:

Real-time tracking

If you’re able to actively track your shipments, mitigating problems becomes much easier and gives you control. You can take immediate action, whether there are delays in the physical loading stage or temperature controls.

Thus, you would avoid further problems like food or drug spoilage and pricey recalls.

Extended shelf life

Temperature-controlled transportation can help extend the shelf life of perishable goods. The ability to maintain an optimal temperature range results in the slower degradation of food. Thus, allowing your products to stay fresh for longer periods. This is especially beneficial for international businesses involved or long-distance shipping, where longer transit times are inevitable.

Reduced waste

By using temperature-controlled cargo, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of financial losses and the likelihood of recalls. Having a digitally visible platform can even help businesses effectively ship raw meat. By constantly getting updates on the temperature. location, and condition of your product, dwell times will no longer be a surprise.

Enhanced customer satisfaction

Your commitment to delivering high-quality products by shipping your products at the right temperature shows how you value customers. This builds trust in your brand because you deliver on what you promise—fresh, quality products.

Best Practices for Temperature Controlled Shipping

It’s important that you take the right steps when shipping with temperature-controlled logistics. Here are the most important practices to keep in mind:

  • Analyse your products.
  • Consider your packaging.
  • Prepare with anticipation.
  • Delegate day-to-day tasks.
  • Keep a close eye on your shipments.

By following these best practices for temperature-controlled transportation, you can ensure the safe and efficient delivery of your products.

How Spotos Can Help You to Safely Transport Your Refrigerated Goods

With Spotos’ self-service platform, you have everything you need to ensure a timely, safe, and successful shipment of your product. By trusting the delivery of your cold products to us, the experts, you can be sure you’ll get:

  • Compliance with strict regulations.
  • Fresher food—longer shelf life.
  • Insured and protected shipments.
  • Real-time truck tracking.
  • Sustainable solutions to reduce carbon emissions.

Having everything in one place where you can see the progress of your shipment from point A to point B is the safest and most effective way to transport your refrigerated good.


What Are the Regulatory Requirements for Temperature-Sensitive Products?

The regulatory requirements for temperature-sensitive products can vary across regions. These requirements typically include:

  • Maintaining the appropriate temperature range for specific products.
  • Proper documentation and record-keeping of temperature control measures.
  • Adherence to industry-specific guidelines like Good Distribution Practices (GDP) for storage and transportation.
  • Obtaining licenses or certifications.
  • Being subject to audits and inspections to ensure compliance.

All in all, it’s essential for businesses involved in temperature-controlled logistics to stay informed and comply with any regulatory requirements.

What Are Temperature Controlled Vehicles Called?

Temperature-controlled vehicles, also known as refrigerated trucks or reefers, are specially designed vehicles with built-in refrigeration systems. These maintain specific temperature conditions during transportation. The temperature controls on these vehicles allow products to stay fresh throughout their journey.

What Temperature Is Refrigerated Cargo?

Depending on the product, each refrigerated cargo requires different temperatures.

For example, perishable foods like fresh produce may require temperatures between 0°C to 4°C, while pharmaceuticals or vaccines might require colder temperatures ranging from -15°C to -25°C.

What Types of Goods Are Primarily Transported under Refrigerated Conditions?

The primary goods that necessitate logistics with temperature control include:

  • Fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Frozen treats like ice cream.
  • Various types of meat.
  • Seafood.
  • Dairy items.
  • Blooms and flowers.
  • Alcoholic beverages like wines and spirits.
  • Chemical products.
  • Temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical items like vaccines.
  • Precious electronics or artwork.
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