Transport refrigeration forms an integral part of the so-called “cold chain,” which makes moving time and environment-sensitive products possible.
Whenever an item or a large quantity of items need to be kept fresh from the time that they’re harvested/collected/produced to the time that they’re purchased/received/distributed, transport refrigeration will be required to do so.
This applies to more product types than you might think — from common groceries to consumer electronics and even antique collectibles, a temperature-controlled environment is essential to safe transportation. Read on to learn more about the process and the technology that makes this all possible:
The Refrigerated Transport Process
Transport refrigeration powers the process that moves delicate goods across the country and even around the world. Without reasonable refrigeration procedures, a wide variety of perishables would not endure their journey from place of origin to grocery store shelf, biochem laboratory, etc.
The full refrigerated transportation process makes use of finely tuned technology plus careful planning to keep items safe and fresh until they arrive at their destinations. From picking out the perfect transport company to highlighting potential bottlenecks in the cold chain ahead of time, proper planning is vital to the refrigerated transport process.
To plan out each link in the cold chain before items depart, the following questions must always be answered:
How sensitive is the freight?
Freight sensitivity can completely change your available transportation options. Especially vulnerable freight may need to be shipped in smaller quantities, packed in very specific ways and kept at very narrow temperature ranges to remain viable. This can be seen with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine that is currently being rolled out, which needs to be transported and stored at a very low, stable temperature.
The exact mode of transportation (rail, road, etc.) and even the kind of container or truck a product goes into can affect its perishability. Keeping track of details such as product incompatibilities that might jeopardise a shipment (mismatched moisture levels, carbon dioxide emissions, odours, etc.) and packaging (proper pallet sizing, ideal packaging material, etc.) can make or break your supply chain.
How long is the journey?
To optimise the travel time for perishable freight, those in charge of planning must pick out the best possible routes to follow. This often involves considering details such as road safety and risks in addition to total distance.
Any potential interruptions in the cold chain must be identified ahead of time and optimised so as not to endanger the freight itself. This goes for loading and unloading times as well.
How competent is your chosen transport company?
Choosing a professional freight forwarding company to transport delicate cargo involves careful consideration of their track record, loading/unloading accessibility, quality systems and communication practices. Of course, determining what costs are involved and how your cargo will be monitored once it is in motion matters as well.
Refrigerated Transport Equipment
A wide assortment of vehicles are equipped with refrigeration units to keep delicate products safe from harm. Depending on the size and shape of the space to be refrigerated, different types of units are used, and each of these is capable of maintaining temperatures within a set range. Some fridge units can maintain dynamic temperatures, accommodate multiple temperatures at once and even adapt to the environment a vehicle is traveling through.
Here at Iceman, we manage and maintain many such units on a regular basis. Ensuring they are in working order allows shipments to move between locations reliably without loss of cargo.
Whether refrigerated transport equipment is hired or bought outright, it must perform reliably for the duration of each journey, maintaining an appropriate temperature the entire time.
The Importance of Refrigerated Transport
Refrigerated transport enables shipments of nearly any kind of cargo to be handled safely. Here are a few key reasons why refrigerated transport is important:
Keeping Up With Demand for Sensitive Goods
Goods that are particularly susceptible to temperature changes can only be safely transported over long distances by using refrigerated transport. Without refrigeration along the way, many products would deteriorate to an unusable state before arrival.
Legal Compliance and Regulatory Guidelines
For some product types, strict conditions must be met at all stages of transport to satisfy local laws and industry standards.
The Australian Food & Grocery Council offers advisory guidelines for optimal food transportation that emphasise the importance of three things:
- Determining a maximum temperature at which food items can be safely transported
- Setting a maximum amount of time that such food items can spend unrefrigerated without spoiling
- Rotating stock on a reasonable schedule to account for expiry
The above cold chain conditions are only advisory, but they can greatly assist in keeping cargo and consumers safe.
The South Australian Freight Council also offers a useful checklist for perishable food transport that hinges on preparation and preparedness in planning out transport strategies.
Leveraging refrigerated transport keeps key products from expiring before those who need them can use them. Reach out to our team at Iceman to learn how we can help move your perishables safely from point A to point B.