With the advent of the Internet of Things, technology standardization, and advanced software, the container shipping industry is seeing tremendous transformation to shippers' benefit. Nowhere is this move to digitization more transformative than the movement of refrigerated cargo.
Cargo visibility throughout its supply chain journey helps mitigate the risks associated with shipping perishable commodities and other temperature-sensitive cargo.
A lot is on the line. Per MarketsandMarkets Research, "Refrigerated Transport Market size is estimated to be valued at USD 113.4 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 160.7 billion by 2027, recording a CAGR of 7.2% during the forecast period in terms of value.”
This growth has resulted in reefer shippers looking for new and innovative strategies and technologies to reduce freight losses, improve their ROI, and improve supply chain efficiency.
Before reefer shippers can understand how to use recent innovations to their advantage, they must understand reefer shipping.
What is Reefer Shipping?
The term “reefer” refers to refrigerated ships or shipping containers transporting perishables like fruit, meat, or dairy items. Additionally, reefers might be used to transport temperature-sensitive goods like vaccines. While reefer is short for refrigerated, reefers can also be used to control the temperature for heated goods.
Reefer shipping is simply the movement of goods in cold chain shipping containers that protect them.
There are a tremendous amount of use cases for reefer shipping. Some products that require reefer shipping might even be surprising. Goods shipped with reefer shipping include the following:
- Perishables – Foodstuffs with a limited lifespan have to be protected. Spoilage can destroy a load’s profitability; shippers must maintain a consistent and predictable temperature-controlled environment throughout the supply chain journey.
- Pharmaceuticals – Many medications require constant temperature control within a specific range to maintain effectiveness. For example, depending on manufacturer specifications, COVID vaccinations must be stored anywhere from -80°C to 5°C and can only be at average refrigeration temperatures for a few days. Temperature control is crucial.
- Fine art – High-value art often needs temperature control to protect it from heat or unpredictable temperature changes. Older paintings are especially susceptible to temperature changes.
- Flowers – In higher temperatures, flowers can wilt and become unsellable. Temperature control is essential to getting them to the customer in good condition.
- Hazardous materials – Many hazardous materials require specific temperature ranges for safe transport.
There are many more use cases for reefer shipping, such as paint, wine, tobacco products, and candles.
Challenges Facing Reefer Shipping
Shippers must maintain consistent temperature ranges for perishables or goods to arrive in top quality, which adds a considerable layer of complexity to shipping. Here are the top five challenges facing shipping with refrigerated cargo containers.
Difficulty Maintaining Temperature
The most obvious challenge is a reefer set at the wrong temperature; some estimates have a third of refrigerated cargo loaded at the wrong temperature. Exceeding food temperature tolerances can result in spoilage or outright rejection of the load by the receiver.
All equipment has the potential to fail, and a reefer that stops working or has problems could be a disaster. Faulty belts, hoses, air chutes, sensors, and condensers are some things that could cause failure with a refrigerated cargo container. Problems that go undetected jeopardize the entire load’s quality. Modern reefers have fault codes but cannot be relied on solely.
Drivers don’t always have the same levels of training and might not fully understand how to set the reefer controls or know the alarm codes. They might misset the controls, not respond appropriately to an alarm, or forego a visual inspection of the load.
Difficulty with Compliance
While groups like the FDA set forth rules like the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food to prevent food contamination, terms like “adequately cleaned and sanitized” are not clearly defined, leaving it up to interpretation by the driver. Room for error results from this ambiguity, especially if organizations lack an understanding of best practices.
The last four challenges create the need for reefer cargo visibility throughout the entire transportation journey. Shippers need the ability to see the state of the cargo and reefer functionality to ensure cargo arrives damage free and of top quality.
The stakes of reefer trucking are much higher than standard trucking, as shippers can lose entire due to improper in-transit conditions.
How Refrigerated Cargo Visibility Software Helps Shippers Keep Their Cool
Total visibility through reefer container monitoring is essential to protecting cargo and bottom lines. When shippers have access to immediate identification of potential malfunctions and mistakes, load protection results.
Unified reefer shipping tech stack through streamlined API
A unified reefer shipping tech stack through a streamlined API transforms operations. Solutions are no longer siloed and rendered useless. With endless options to scale the tech stack, refrigerated cargo visibility through a streamlined API results in total supply chain unity for reefer logistics.
Analytics Through Refrigerated Cargo Visibility Ensures Reefer Shippers Learn From Past Mistakes
Learning from past mistakes requires knowing what they were in the first place. Analytics help shippers develop a comprehensive understanding of the ins and outs of their operations, leading to identifying new opportunities for improvement throughout their refrigerated supply chain.
Track Terminal Events to Ensure Shippers Keep Up-To-Date on the Latest Reefer Shipping Events
Keeping up with the latest logistics events is essential in reefer logistics. Event tracking ensures shippers that their reefer shipments are safe and cared for from the beginning of the supply chain until the end.
Keep Your Cool With Refrigerated Cargo Visibility Software From Vizion API
Reefer shipments have everything on the line when a simple mistake or equipment failure is all it takes to ruin an entire load. Something trivial could result in a total loss.
Visibility throughout the entire reefer supply chain saves cargo and profitability with the ability to identify and remedy problems immediately. Additionally, total visibility results in learning opportunities that can streamline supply chains and facilitate better planning. A fully integrated reefer tracking tech stack is essential for shippers when so much is on the line.
Refrigerated cargo visibility software from Vizion API ensures that shippers’ reefer shipments are safe and cared for throughout the end-to-end supply chain journey. A minor event that could quickly destroy an entire shipment no longer goes unnoticed until it is too late.
Book a demo with Vizion API today and see how complete reefer supply chain visibility transforms supply chains.