The shipping of temperature-sensitive commodities is on the up-tick. Fresh food products, pharmaceuticals and technology solutions have seen a dramatic rise in the retail space. From computer microchips that require temperature-controlled shipping to vaccines that help cure disease or prevent them, the global community has become increasingly dependent upon the cold supply chain. However, there is some confusion about what the difference is between a fridge box and a reefer container?
Well – for those who have wondered about this commonly asked
question, here are some facts about these two cold supply chain shipping solutions.
There are multiple products that require temperature-controlling
and have for several years. However, growing federal and international shipping
regulations have increased the need for higher-quality temperature control and
monitoring which has spurred growth within this industry. Some of the most
common commodities that require advanced tracking and monitoring within the
cold supply chain include frozen food, dairy products, produce, medical
supplies, and electronics.
The term ‘reefer’ is used to describe a full-service or
dedicated refrigerated truck or container with temperature control equipment. A
reefer can be set from temperatures ranging from 50 degrees to minus 20 Fahrenheit
in order to keep the product within their desired storage temperature for the duration
of transportation. Most temperature-controlled shipments are LTL or less than
truckload, with multiple products that require similar temperature control
being shipped together – usually to multiple stops.
While the market it hot – the availability of reefer units
is just as cold as the products they ship. This supply and demand issue along
with the reduction in qualified and CDL licensed drivers has caused the cost of
reefer shipments to accelerate. Beyond the cost increase, trying to schedule
perishable shipments on the schedule of a shipper is also becoming a challenge.
The transportation industry is rapidly increasing their production of new
reefer containers and trucks in order to meet the rising need – which should
hopefully reduce some of the shipping costs.
Another challenge with reefer shipments is route planning
for LTL shipments. For example, if a manufacturer of frozen food has 10 pallets
of products that have to be shipped to 5 different customers, in three
different states, the shipment will likely have to be sent to a LTL depot to be
routed to at least three different LTL routes. This isn’t very efficient and
tends to increase the time of delivering cold storage products.
While a reefer is a dedicated container or vehicle that
moves refrigerated or other temperature-controlled commodities, a fridge box is
an individual box that can hold up to two pallets of product. A fridge box is
usually loaded onto a dry-goods trailer while maintaining the desired
temperature zone during transport. They are incredibly well engineered – with seal
technology and equipment that can keep a temperature within one degree for up
to a five-day period.
A fridge box is much easier to maintain and offers shippers
with more flexibility to move smaller amounts of cold-storage products. This
type of cold-storage shipping device is typically used for smaller products,
like electronics, medications, vaccines, or other cold-storage pharmaceutical
products. One of their greatest benefits is their portability. Most shippers
will use a fridge box to keep smaller volume products cold while shipping dry
goods in the same LTL container. As such, fridge boxes tend to be less
expensive than reefers because they don’t require fully equipped trucks. The
fridge box has been a big help in the reduction of cold supply chain supply problems
– and gives shippers and carriers alike improved opportunities for moving
While the cold supply chain is growing in need – and more
carriers are increasing their volume of reefer and fridge boxes, shippers still
have challenges when trying to navigate this competitive industry. If you’re a
shipper who is challenged by the hurdles associated with reefer and temperature-controlled
shipments, an experienced 3PL can significantly improve your LTL supply chain
operation. Take time to contact a professional third-party logistics company if
you’d like to learn more about how to efficiently ship your cold storage
products with improved customer service and reduced costs.