Protecting Refrigerated Shipments

At Trademark, we built our business by delivering on some of the toughest transportation challenges – small refrigerated and frozen shipments. Picking up and delivering small, widely scattered shipments of fresh and frozen freight presents a number of difficulties in making sure your products are delivered intact, just the way you shipped them. We have developed a Product Protection Program to meet these challenges.

Being able to ship smaller shipments at an affordable price certainly is an advantage, but not if it comes at the expense of the quality of your products. Unless an LTL refrigerated carrier has the proper procedures in place, every time one of their trucks makes a stop your freight could be at risk.

HOW SAFE IS YOUR PRODUCT?

Imagine your product is being delivered on a warm, 80 degree day at a large warehouse. The driver is told to open up his trailer doors and back into an unloading dock. As soon as that door is open, your products are exposed to the ambient temperature. If the dock is not refrigerated, the exposure of your product to the 80 degree temperature will continue as long as the doors are open.

Even if the carrier keeps his refrigerated unit running, problems can still arise. The outside air will have a higher humidity which will condense on his unit. With the trailer doors open, the reefer unit will work hard and constantly to keep the trailer cool causing condensation to quickly gather on its coils. As condensation builds, the reefer will automatically shut down in order to defrost. This is why carriers must turn off their reefer during loading and unloading.

How long will your product generally be exposed to these temperatures? It depends on how quickly the product will be off loaded and put into a suitable temperature environment.

Not only is your product being put at risk when it’s being delivered; but at every stop along the way for other shipments on the truck. How long it can stand up to these conditions depends a lot on the density of your product and how quickly it is affected. Depending on your product, it may not just be warm weather you’re worried about. If it’s a product that is freezable or needs to be kept fresh, most of the same risks apply in severe cold weather.

This is only one of many situations that a good LTL refrigerated carrier has to be alert to. Others include the temperature of adjacent freight, the accuracy of monitoring devices, etc.

THE TRADEMARK PRODUCT PROTECTION PROGRAM

We have the process and procedures in place so that your product is never put at risk in these situations. Our Product Protection Program is part of our Quality Management System which is ISO 9001:2008 certified, meaning it’s independently audited twice a year.

It is crucial to maintain proper temperatures, especially while extreme conditions exist outside. Our Product Protection Program includes several steps for holding the proper air and product temperatures from the time it’s picked up, at cross-docking and through its successful delivery.

It’s important to know each commodity and its requirements. We continue to create an extensive database of specific commodities and their requirements. When receiving orders we classify every shipment. Any shipment that is highly sensitive is tagged throughout our system for careful monitoring by operations as well as customer service.

It isn’t unusual for us to ask a lot of questions up front to make sure we understand the commodity you are shipping and its requirements. We’re glad to share our experience with you and the standards that we apply. If your product requires special handling, we’re equipped to do that.

ASSURING THE PROPER PRODUCT TEMPERATURE

We instruct our drivers to pre-cool the trailer prior to pickup, ensuring the freight being loaded retains its temperature. It is important to note that the trailer’s refrigeration unit (reefer) is designed to control the air temperature inside so that the product temperature remains within a reasonable tolerance. It is not designed to bring down the product temperature of a warm shipment.

Trademark drivers always check the product temperature at pickup. With LTL loads there are multiple pickups done by a single truck. If one customer sends out a warm product it can impact the air temperature in the trailer, putting other products on board at risk. This makes it critical to ensure a product is at the proper temperature upon pickup.

It’s important to work with your shipping department as well as your receivers to allow our drivers to monitor and check the freight. Our goal is to make sure your freight and all of our customers’ freight is being protected and cared for. Without access to monitor the loading or unloading of the shipment, others are taking on that responsibility and our liability is limited.

PROTECTING THE PRODUCT AT PICKUP AND DELIVERY

As mentioned, LTL shipping saves money over shipping a full truckload, but it also presents extra challenges, especially for refrigerated products. In order to consolidate and distribute shipments, the trucks must make pickups and deliveries at multiple locations. Even if appointments are scheduled, the drivers must often back into the dock and wait to be loaded or unloaded while keeping the trailer door open. Since many docking facilities are not refrigerated, this leaves the freight on the open trailer vulnerable to outside temperatures.

Our drivers take extra precautions to protect your freight while waiting at a dock with the door open. When faced with warmer outside temperatures, they turn off the reefer unit to prevent it from condensing and going into defrost mode. Even with the reefer turned off, the trailer will stay cool inside. This is because we use a triple foam core bulkhead at the rear of the trailer. This foam barrier is used in the place of the door and is not removed until the shipper or receiver is ready to move freight. This rear bulkhead is used in all conditions, warm or cold. Closing off the trailer to the outside temperature keeps the air and product temperatures inside the trailer at their proper levels even while the door itself is open.

MONITORING AND CARING FOR PRODUCTS AT CROSS DOCK

Most LTL shipments are brought to a cross dock location for staging and reloading before delivery, adding another opportunity for products to be damaged.

Maintaining product integrity is a priority for us, especially during the cross docking process. Our warehouses in Minneapolis and Chicago have refrigerated docks so your shipments are not exposed to the outside climate. Additionally, our drivers and warehouse staff follow steps in our Product Protection Program to monitor and care for your freight.

To be sure the products have not been compromised, our warehouse staff checks the temperatures at cross dock. They also make sure to allow proper air flow around all sides of the freight when it is loaded into the trailer. This allows the reefer’s cool air to surround the products, keeping them within the proper temperature tolerance levels while in transit.

MONITORING PRODUCTS IN TRANSIT AND AT DELIVERY

Depending on their origin and destination, LTL shipments may be in transit for several days before delivery which makes maintaining product temperature for fresh and frozen shipments vital.

At Trademark, our load coordinators closely monitor each shipment by staying in constant communication with the driver. The drivers use calibrated temperature probes to monitor the product temperature while in transit. They report the temperatures to the load coordinator on a daily basis and continue to work together if problems arise.

Our load coordinators set up delivery appointments and instruct the drivers on what to expect at each receiver. We have developed a shipper/receiver database with information on hundreds of locations including requirements such as receiving hours and dock regulations so there are no surprises when the driver arrives.

ONGOING IMPROVEMENT

At Trademark, we are committed to taking good care of your product and you through our mastery of the details. We are constantly learning and implementing ways to improve our processes and procedures, including the Product Protection Program.

We’re glad to share more with you about our Product Protection Program or receive any input you might have. Feel free to contact your salesman to discuss.