Fresh flowers, medicines, vaccines, and perishable foods — all of it needs to be kept at a specific temperature range while it’s moving through the supply chain. And temperature-controlled shipping — also known as refrigerated or reefer shipping — is how it’s done.
If you have temperature-sensitive items you need to ship, you need to make sure you’re using the right packaging materials and the right carriers. You need to monitor the temperature of shipments to make sure they stay within the acceptable range in transit, so they can arrive without breaks in the cold chain. Here’s how.
Use the Right Packing Materials
Even in non-refrigerated shipping, using the right packing materials is essential to make sure that your shipping contents arrive undamaged by the inevitable jolts, impacts, and vibrations they’ll face in transit. But when you’re shipping temperature-sensitive items, you need to choose packing materials that can keep your contents cold, but not too cold.
That means you need to pack your temperature-sensitive items in insulated boxes with coolants to control the temperature inside the package. Dry ice shouldn’t necessarily be your coolant of choice. It can be too cold for shipping some items, like fresh flowers or seafood, which could get frost burns from exposure to dry ice. You should avoid using dry ice when shipping foodstuffs, as it shouldn’t come into contact with food.
Dry ice also replaces the available oxygen as it sublimates, releasing carbon dioxide. If the shipping container isn’t properly ventilated, carbon dioxide could build up inside the package and asphyxiate the recipient when it’s opened. Dry ice can also replace all the oxygen in a small, unventilated room, causing a hazardous situation for shipping and logistics personnel. That’s why you’re only allowed to send up to five pounds of dry ice in the mail, and any packages containing dry ice should be labeled so that carriers can handle it safely.
Alternatively, you can use refrigerated gel packs, which can be frozen, melted, and refrozen over and over again. You can buy these gel packs in different sizes, depending on how much coolant you need to keep your package contents safe in transit. Use a brand new corrugated cardboard box for each shipment. Place your shipping contents inside a foam cooler inside the shipping carton, or surround them with foam planks or thermal bubble wrap. If you’re shipping something delicate, like fresh flowers, add another layer of packing material between the coolant packs and the contents to protect them from getting too cold.
Just as with packing anything else, you want to make sure your carton’s contents can’t move around during shipping. Place cushioning material, like bubble wrap, air pillows, or packing peanuts, inside the insulation as well as around the outside of the insulation layer, to keep the contents from sliding around inside the package.
Choose a Carrier that Offers Refrigerated Shipping
If you’re shipping individual packages, you may not need to worry too much about sending them in a refrigerated truck or container, because if you pack them right, the coolant packs inside the package will be sufficient to keep the contents cool. However, if you’re shipping a lot of stuff or it’s imperative that your contents don’t get too warm, work with a carrier that offers refrigerated shipping options. You can’t be too careful when it comes to items like medicine or perishable foods.
Monitor the Temperature of Your Shipments in Transit
What if there was a way to keep track of the temperature of your shipments as they move through the supply chain, and even intervene in case something starts to get too hot? Well, there is! You can include a temperature indicator in your package to monitor the temperature of your contents, and even receive alerts when your contents start to approach the maximum acceptable temperature.
That way, you can make sure the cold chain remains unbroken as your shipments travel to their destinations. If you get an alert that something is starting to get too hot, you can contact the carrier and intervene. Temperature indicators also give recipients the assurance that they need to know that their perishable items have been kept within the appropriate temperature range throughout shipping.
Temperature-controlled shipping keeps perishable items cool and intact as they move through the supply chain. It preserves the shelf life of items like perishable foods, medicines and vaccines, live plants, fresh flowers, and more. Make sure your temperature-sensitive items are properly handled during shipment, so you can avoid the reputational damage and extra costs that disappointed customers can bring.