What Startups Need to Know About Cold Weather Shipping

November 17, 2022

If you’re trying to get a new shipping or retail company off the ground, you need to know how to package your shipments so they don’t freeze in the winter. Plenty of things can sustain irreversible damage if they’re allowed to freeze, including things like coffee, cosmetics, batteries, paint, and even electronics. You need to know how freezing temperatures can affect the products you’re shipping, and what to do to protect them.

To protect your shipments from freezing, you need to use appropriate insulation material and temperature-controlled shipping technologies. Use temperature indicators to monitor the temperature of your shipments in transit, so you’ll know if they’ve potentially been exposed to freezing temperatures. And send your shipments as quickly as you can in the winter, to minimize the window of time in which shipments can potentially be exposed to freezing conditions.

Know Your Freight

Not all freight is going to be vulnerable to freeze damage, but you shouldn’t assume that your freight won’t be harmed because it’s not a liquid. Freezing can damage all kinds of things, and not just the things you’d expect. For example, freezing coffee can cause the oils inside the beans to separate, damaging the flavor of the beverage. Freezing can cause LED screens on electronics to crack, batteries to burst, and things like cosmetics and paint to separate. Do your research so you can understand the threat freezing temperatures might pose to your freight.

Insulation Is a Must-Have

You simply can’t ship temperature-sensitive freight in the winter without using insulation. Each shipping crate should be well-insulated against the cold, and you need to insulate your pallets, as well.

Use styrofoam boxes or panels to insulate wooden, plastic, and cardboard shipping boxes. Surround the goods inside the crate with styrofoam. Other options for in-crate insulation include thermal box liners and thermal bubble wrap. If you’re shipping whole pallets of goods, use insulated pallet covers or blankets for additional protection.

If you’re shipping something that needs to stay warm in the winter, like live plants, you can place heat packs inside your shipping crates to keep the contents warm. Heat packs should be wrapped in packing paper and placed inside the insulation, in the correct orientation according to the heat pack instructions.

Use Temperature-Controlled Shipping

Whether you’re shipping temperature-sensitive items in the summer or the winter, temperature-controlled shipping is your best friend. Use refrigerated trucks to keep your freight within a safe temperature range all year round. Even in the winter, refrigerated trucks are necessary to keep perishables at a consistent, cool temperature and protect them from freezing. 

Some carriers also offer heated shipping options for freight that needs to stay warm in the winter, like live animals and plants. Always choose the appropriate temperature-controlled shipping option for your freight. 

Monitor the Temperature of Your Shipments

You can’t always tell just by looking at something whether or not it’s been frozen and thawed out. You shouldn’t leave your customers to guess whether their package contents have stayed above freezing in transit. Customers need certainty that their packages haven’t frozen, and so do you.

You should put temperature indicators in your packages so that customers know when their goods have been exposed to below-freezing temps and might have sustained freeze damage. Simple temperature indicators will change colors when they have been exposed to below-freezing temperatures. More sophisticated temperature indicators can monitor the temperature of your shipment in real time, which gives you the option to work with your carrier to make adjustments if your freight approaches a dangerously low temperature. 

Ship Quickly

Temperature-sensitive items should always be shipped as quickly as possible, no matter what time of the year it is, but especially so in the winter. Winter weather brings more than cold temperatures – it also brings snow and ice that can impact road conditions and cause extra shipping delays. 

Using the fastest shipping option helps ensure that your freight will reach its destination in good condition, even if there is a shipping delay. The less time your freight spends in transit, the less time it has to potentially freeze. Always aim for overnight shipping whenever possible, and don’t allow freight to remain in transit for more than two days. Heat packs only last about 40 hours, and gel packs only last 24 to 36 hours, so you don’t have that much time to get your freight to its destination.

Cold weather shipping can be a real challenge for startups shipping temperature-sensitive goods. Make sure your shipments are properly insulated and shipped, so your company can begin to thrive.

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