8 Tips for Shipping Perishables via Short-Haul Trucking

May 30, 2024
Courtney L.

Shipping perishables, such as food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, or any item that requires a specific temperature setting, can be challenging due to their sensitivity and handling. 

Short-haul trucking offers a viable solution for transporting these items over shorter distances, ensuring freshness and quality upon arrival. Here are 8 essential tips for shipping perishables via short-haul trucking.

1. Use Refrigerated Trucks

Investing in or contracting refrigerated trucks (reefers) is crucial for maintaining the correct temperature for perishables. 

These trucks are equipped with temperature control systems that can be adjusted based on the specific needs of the cargo, ensuring that items like fresh produce, dairy products, and meat remain within safe temperature ranges throughout the journey.

2. Proper Packaging

Proper packaging is essential to protect perishables during transit. Use insulated containers, gel packs, or dry ice to maintain the desired temperature. Ensure that packaging materials are food-grade and that containers are sealed tightly to prevent contamination and leakage.

3. Efficient Loading and Unloading

Minimize the time perishables spend outside of controlled environments by streamlining the loading and unloading processes. 

Coordinate with shipping and receiving teams to ensure quick transitions from cold storage to the refrigerated truck and vice versa. This reduces the risk of temperature fluctuations that can compromise the quality of the perishables.

4. Temperature Monitoring

Implement continuous temperature monitoring systems within the truck to track conditions in real-time. 

This allows for immediate adjustments if temperatures deviate from the optimal range. Many modern refrigerated trucks come with built-in monitoring systems, but additional portable sensors can provide an extra layer of assurance.

5. Plan Efficient Routes

Planning efficient routes is critical for minimizing transit times. Use route optimization software to find the quickest and most direct paths, avoiding delays that could jeopardize the items integrity. Shorter travel times mean less exposure to potentially damaging conditions.

6. Regulatory Compliance

Ensure compliance with all relevant regulations, including the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the United States, which mandates proper handling and transportation of food products. Stay updated on any changes to these regulations to avoid penalties and ensure the safety of your perishables.

7. Driver Training

Train drivers on the specific requirements for handling and transporting perishable goods. They should understand the importance of maintaining temperature controls, monitoring cargo conditions, and taking immediate action if issues arise. Well-trained drivers are crucial for the successful delivery of perishable items.

8. Emergency Plans

Have a contingency plan in place for emergencies, such as truck breakdowns or unexpected delays. This might include having backup vehicles ready or arrangements with local cold storage facilities. Being prepared for unforeseen circumstances can prevent the spoilage of valuable perishable goods.

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