If you’re wondering where Spring went, so are we. It seemed like we transitioned straight from Winter to Summer this year.
No, we’re not just making small talk about the weather with you. We’re talking about a real problem here. We’re the temperature people, remember? The winter heated up rapidly and temperature-sensitive shipments are suffering because of it.
If you haven’t adjusted to summer shipping season yet, this is your friendly reminder to kick it into gear.
All too often, customers have contacted us after losing a load that was entirely preventable with seasonal preparation that went overlooked. Here are the five most common mistakes we see and how to avoid them.
Waiting too long to secure capacity for seasonal mode conversions.
This can sneak up on folks who ship dry most of the year and switch to reefers in the summer for products requiring heat protection (i.e. organic snacks, chocolates, etc.). It’s never too early to have a plan for ensuring you have trucks available. 2018 is seeing the highest reefer load-to-truck ratios in recent years; secure your capacity for the summer season as soon as possible.
Assuming the carrier you hired will be hauling your freight.
For a shipper who is struggling to secure capacity, there’s temptation to take whatever is available, creating opportunity for the broker community. With these market conditions you may run into carriers who combine loads or broker your shipment out multiple times. The last thing you want to find out is that your perishable foods–as an example–were shipped in the same trailer with a nonfood safe commodity (i.e. Industrial chemicals).
To prevent this, double check the language in your contracts to make sure your carrier obtains permission before brokering out your shipments. This is especially important during peak seasons for food and beverages that have higher risk for temperature excursions in the heat. You should always be diligent when hiring carriers – especially when searching the spot market – to ensure you know exactly who will be hauling your freight in order to maintain control and visibility of your brand!
Taking for granted the driver will keep the refrigerated unit running as required.
We love and appreciate truckload drivers, we really do. However, like any profession, some don’t always play by the rules. It’s not uncommon for a driver to occasionally turn the refrigerated unit off to preserve fuel, then turn it back on before making delivery. With gas prices on the rise this practice becomes more and more common, especially during the summer.
Simple proactive steps can be taken to avoid this concern. Clearly define temperature requirements on your BOL, request an electronic log of trailer temperatures from the carrier for the entire trip, and/or you can even take matters into your own hands by including temperature recording device(s) in the payload.
Not consulting with your LTL carrier partners about cross docking.
Your temperature sensitive commodities may be exposed to harsh heat when cross docked at terminals along the route. While this may be manageable during other seasons, the summer heat has no mercy. It’s not uncommon for an ambient terminal to reach nearly 90 degrees in certain parts of the country.
Ask your carrier partners about the temperature conditions at terminals. Collaborate with them to ensure a plan is in place to protect your load from temperature excursions. This is especially important for refrigerated LTL; ice cream should not be sitting on a refrigerated dock unprotected.
Shipping high value cargo on the weekends or holidays.
It might be tempting to get an order out by the end of the month and ship on weekends, but we encourage you to consider the risk of theft.
Because most facilities do not have weekend receiving hours, this results in your payload being parked for longer periods of time which increases the risk for cargo theft. Worse yet, if a theft does occur, trying to get all necessary parties connected on a weekend / holiday is far more challenging. Another tip is to require the driver(s) to travel at least 300 miles before making their first stop. Most cargo theft attempts take place within a shorter distance of its origin point.
With a bit of preparation, your peak season shipping schedule will run smoothly. Mitigate risk with temperature-sensitive shipments by taking action to avoid the mistakes we listed above. If this article caused more panic than comfort, rest assured that you can get back on track. Give us a call and we’ll help you out with our passive temperature protection expertise.