Published on April 20th, 2021
If you’re a logistics provider, manufacturer, retailer, or healthcare or pharmaceutical entrepreneur, etc., one of your organization’s largest annual costs may well be shipping and related logistics factors.
If you want to boost profits and reduce risk and costs, it’s crucial to look for ways to ensure products arrive at their destination on time and in proper condition.
This situation is particularly vital if you ever ship temperature-sensitive items. Read on for some ways to do so more effectively, especially if this specialized area is new to you and your team.
Understands Laws and Regulations Related to What You Move
Whether you’re doing the shipping yourself or hiring another company to handle logistics on your behalf, you need to know laws and other regulations regarding shipping.
Learn what is and isn’t allowed when moving perishable products and temperature-sensitive materials. Many rules will be specific to the types of goods being shipped.
For information on this area, check out the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It outlines many of the relevant regulations.
Also, take a look at the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) information provided by the FDA for organizations in numerous industries, such as cosmetics, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals.
The information contained with the GMPs details best practices and regulations around cold-chain and other controlled-room temperature operations.
Plus, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) lists the substances that can be legally dispersed within and into the United States.
It notes rules around registration for the distribution and handling of certain items. Plus, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has an air transport guide for dangerous goods and substances that may be helpful for you.
Focus on Packaging
As you’d imagine, packing temperature-sensitive goods is one of the most important aspects of shipping them securely and ensuring they arrive at their destinations in good condition.
Items that have to stay at a set temperature rely on precise packaging to keep them within the necessary thermal range.
Suitable packaging methods help parcels remain at optimal temperatures during not only transport times but also packing and unpacking and loading and unloading periods.
Packing options are either active temperature control solutions or passive ones. The former involves refrigerated trailers, battery-powered pallet shippers, and related temperature control solutions, while the latter is usually about insulated packaging and some additional refrigerant.
Deciding which choice to use for your goods comes down to what you’re shipping, how long it will be in transit, the conditions of the route (e.g., how hot or cold it will get), and the type of carrier (e.g., sea, rail, air, or general road). Budget considerations come into play, too.
As you start researching packaging, you’ll see that the main things you can choose between are vacuum-insulated panels, wet or dry ice, expanded polystyrene or polyurethane foam, gel packs, and phase change materials.
Plus, it pays to utilize tech tools to minimize risks to parcels. Buy a quality temperature indicator for each temperature-sensitive package so your team, shipping handlers, and others can be alerted to unwanted changes in temperature and exposure to unacceptable conditions.
Get Clear on Different Shipping Methods
Achieving success with shipping temperature-dependent goods relies on choosing the right method of transport, too.
It’s crucial to research options and select the best service for each parcel. For example, truck-based road shipping is the preferred method for many parcels since it allows for more affordable refrigeration options.
However, if speed is of the essence, you may need to consider air freight. On the other hand, shipping by sea can be very tricky for temperature-sensitive items due to the length of voyages and offerings onboard to keep parcels at the right degree.
Consider Transit Corridors
Another factor to consider when planning how to transport more sensitive materials and products is where parcels will go in their journey and the likely weather in different areas as logistics carriers move goods.
Assess the transit corridors to help you determine the best shipping type and the most appropriate packaging.
For example, will parcels go through multiple modes of transport to get to their destinations, and will there be potentially tricky conditions faced along the way, such as rough roads, waves, or air pockets that could affect items inside?
Might the temperature variations be extreme, too, such as if a package moves from a southern South American or U.S. city to a northern U.S. or Canadian destination, with very different temperatures from start to finish?
Think about all these things when planning how and when to move goods from one location to another. It’s certainly doable to transport temperature-sensitive items safely and securely, but you need to know how to make it happen consistently.