Refrigerated transports – not for everyone


Refrigerated transport of food products Is one of the most important types once you take into consideration that we all need food in order to survive. The job of controlled temperature transport is of course meant to deliver the products in a fit state in order to be consumed safely. It’s very important that all refrigerated cargo is delivered in accordance with all regulations which make sure the food is delivered safely, without damage or contamination.

Food products, especially fresh ones such as: fruit and veg, meat, fish, dairy  are very sensitive during transportation. When being transported, all the elements matter: the temperature can’t be too high or too low, levels of humidity will affect the quality of the product between shipping and delivery. It’s very important that people dealing with controlled temperature loads have the knowledge and expertise to deal with those variables.

Carriers and drivers are obliged to control the temperature in the trailer during transport. They can do it through devices installed in their vehicles that record temperature values during transport and are equipped with a printout option. These devices are so-called thermographs.

Both fruit, veg and meat, fish and seafood have a short use-by date which limits the ability to stockpile them. It’s a great challenge for planners. Orders are performed with the use of historic data and prognosis based on that data which is then corrected with the current demand for the products. Unfortunately the issue of under or over ordering is still present. Neither situation is ideal – one on hand we lose sales, on the other, the storage costs.

Specialized means of transport and the infrastructure

From the production line to the store shelves, specialised containers, vehicles, loading terminals and warehouses are used. On longer intercontinental routes, refrigerated containers are moved onboard cargo ships or freight planes. On land, isothermic vehicles with a cooling aggregate are used.

Products transported in a controlled temperature environment also need to be monitored constantly. Special temperature registers, equipped with a GPS module can send signals if there is an inconsistency, allowing for a quick reaction. The tracker, placed with the load is able to monitor the temperature not only during transport, but also when loaded/unloaded or stored.

However, before all the equipment is used, the products must be prepped to be shipped, in line with food packaging requirements.

Speditor on duty

To make sure the transport is carried out correctly and effectively, companies must implement appropriate management systems that allow to supervise the whole process.

During the transport operations, few checkpoints exist that have a big influence on a proper shipment execution. The speditor plays a major role in that process.

The problem most speditors specialising in refrigerated transportation face are: not flexible delivery times, deliveries done not within the agreed schedule, deliveries not in accordance with the order, not enough driver awareness in case of the transported products.

A speditor with the correct knowledge and set of skills will correct a driver and will force a correct set of procedures to be fulfilled during loading and unloading. Because the aforementioned activities happen during different hours and can take longer than earlier anticipated, the speditor being on call 24/7 is something obvious. On top of that, transportation of agricultural products can be a risky endeavour due to quality control issues which may make planning the next expedition quite a tricky task.

If a need to change the location or the date/time of the delivery happens, the speditor is then forced to adjust and change previously planned arrangements for the vehicle. Of course, it happens when you least expect, hence overtime is not something unusual for them.

Trust between a speditor and the undertaker, built on previous experiences and workloads has a huge impact on the speditor’s effectiveness. Trust and mutual agreement is a key to succeeding in this line of work.