If you have to ship an item(s) requiring temperature control, you’ll need to select an LTL (less-than-truckload) freight company with refrigerated trucking capabilities. Items that require temperature control include foods and beverages, certain types of electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, flowers and plantings. Here are important things to consider when selecting a carrier for refrigerated shipments.
Refrigerated Shipment Basics
- Determine what temperature is needed to maintain the integrity of your product during transit. Some refrigerated truck trailers (often referred to as “reefers”) are designed for chilled shipments, while others accommodate frozen shipments. Do you have an assortment of needs with multiple items? Some refrigerated LTL carriers have trailers with multiple compartments, giving them the ability to handle items with different temperature requirements.
- If you are shipping a food item(s), your carrier must have food grade trailers that meet FDA regulations for handling foods. For instance, the trailer must have proper ventilation and be free of contamination from previous shipments. Shippers that handle food items should be HACCP accredited—certified by the FDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point system.
- Experience is a very important thing to look for in a company shipping refrigerated truckloads or LTL shipments—the service involves far more than simply having a trailer with a built-in refrigeration system. For example:
Temperature must be properly controlled before pickup and if/when the shipment is unloaded at a dock for transfer to another trailer. If temperature is not properly maintained, your item may become too cool or hot during the transfer period.
Temperature monitoring during transport is now possible in real time. An experienced, up-to-date LTL refrigerated shipping company will have the ability to track temperature from start to finish at both a remote office and also the truck cabin. Real-time monitoring enables the carrier to make adjustments quickly and thus prevent damage that would go undetected for hours or days with a less sophisticated carrier handling the job. Constant temperature tracking also helps ensure that responsibility for damage can be properly assigned in the event of damage to your item.
- Scheduling a reefer shipment can be more challenging than for a dry load. Reefer trucks are not as plentiful as dry truck trailers, and time constraints for shipping certain perishable products (certain foods and medications, for instance) shorten transport times and put more pressure on carriers to deliver quickly. Your LTL carrier must have the ability to pick up and transport your item promptly and reliably — check its track record by looking at online reviews, talking to its customer support staff and perhaps even a few of its customers.
- Temperature must be properly controlled before pickup and if/when the shipment is unloaded at a dock for transfer to another trailer. If temperature is not properly maintained, your item may become too cool or hot during the transfer period.
Insider Tip: LTL carriers with a lot of reefer loads are in the best position to help you, since your shipment must be combined with other shipments with the same temperature requirements.
Because of the specialized equipment and handling requirements, refrigerated LTL shipments are more expensive than standard, dry shipments. To keep the cost as low as possible:
- Give the freight company as much flexibility and time as possible in terms of pickup date and delivery time.
- Combine items. Volume—the amount of space your shipment takes in the trailer—is a key factor in determining what the LTL carrier will charge. The more volume your shipment takes, the less work the carrier needs to do to find other shipments to combine with it. Result: a lower price for you.
Don't Get Left in the Cold
Transit Systems, Inc. has decades of experience helping consumers and businesses get their LTL refrigerated shipments delivered intact and on time. We work with a nationwide network of top carriers with extensive experience and expertise in the handling of refrigerated items. Our industry knowledge and contacts allow us to arrange all the details of your shipment to give you the best possible service and lowest possible cost. We will never leave you or your item out in the cold!