Frozen LTL Transportation and Trucking

Refrigerated transportation has revolutionized the logistics sector and allows consumers to enjoy products that would once have been impossible to ship safely. This article will explain how companies that need to ship loads which are not large enough to fill a refrigerated truck can still enjoy the benefits of a fully integrated cold supply chain.

What Is Frozen LTL?

inside of refrigerated truckLTL is an industry term that means “less than a full truckload,” and it is typically used to describe shipments that will take up less than a third of the floor space in a standard trailer. Trucks are filled by combining several LTL shipments into a single freight load. Frozen means that LTL loads must be kept at a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius during shipping.

Cold Chain Shipping Logistics

A cold supply chain includes temperature-controlled warehouses and dispatch facilities as well as refrigerated trucks. Products stored and shipped in freezer compartments can spoil or become volatile when temperatures rise, which is why the industry is so closely regulated. The regulation dealing with transporting frozen food is the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. The rule establishes the type of trucks that can pick up and transport frozen food, the steps that should be taken during transportation to prevent contamination, and the records logistics companies must keep.

Temperature Controlled Trailers in Trucking

Trucks that transport goods in temperature-controlled environments are called reefers, which is an abbreviation of “refrigerated.” Freezer compartments are kept cold by circulating a refrigerant between an evaporator inside the cargo area and a condenser outside the truck. The system is powered by an electric motor connected to the truck’s engine. A reefer, including a reefer LTL, can have a small refrigerated compartment, or the entire trailer can be cooled, and there are even reefer trailers that have refrigerated, frozen, and uncooled areas. Truck refrigeration systems are rated based on how many BTUs they can remove in an hour.

Challenges of Frozen LTL Transportation

frozen seafoodLogistics companies expect strict deadlines, but time really is of the essence when the products being transported are in cold storage. Therefore, companies that transport frozen LTL shipments must not only make sure that their cargoes arrive on time, they must also ensure that temperatures of 0 degrees Celsius are maintained throughout the trip.

Temperature Fluctuations

Microbes like bacteria and mold become inactive at low temperatures, but they do not die. When frozen foods begin to thaw, they start to deteriorate because of enzymatic changes and oxidation. Temperatures must be kept constant as well as low because even minor fluctuations can lead to dehydration and frost buildup as moisture in the product migrates out toward the packaging materials.

Cold Chain Integrity

Cold chain integrity means that the entire frozen goods supply chain must be constantly monitored. For example, products must be stored in climate-controlled warehouses, so dispatch centers should provide the availability for goods to be held in refrigerated areas to minimize exposure to the elements during loading and unloading. Lastly, efficiently transporting frozen LTL shipments takes a great deal of coordination, and it should be left to logistics companies with the necessary equipment and experience.

Slightly Longer Transit Times

Frozen LTL shipments are normally transported using a hub and spoke distribution model. The spokes are producers that ship goods in refrigerated box trucks or vans, and the hub is a distribution center where these smaller loads are combined into freights and loaded onto trailers. This extra step means that transit times are usually a little longer when shipping LTL loads.

Cost of Frozen LTL

LTL loads cost slightly more per pound to transport than full loads because there are extra steps involved, but they allow smaller companies to combine their shipping efforts and enjoy the same benefits as multinational corporations. If you want to find the best frozen LTL deals, you should look for a logistics company with considerable experience in the field that is familiar with the challenges involved and knows how to handle them.

How LTL Shipments Reduce Costs Compared to Freight or TL Carriers

When smaller loads from several clients are loaded onto a single trailer, each client saves money because they are splitting the cost and only paying for the amount of space they actually use. A smaller truck may burn less fuel than a tractor-trailer, but it can only carry a fraction of the cargo. When LTL loads are combined, clients spend less on shipping and know that their products are transported in state-of-the-art equipment.

Popular Frozen LTL Applications and Industries

Logistics companies that offer frozen LTL shipping serve clients in several industries, and they all have regulations that must be observed.

Food and Grocery Industry

Sales of frozen food products in the United States have increased by almost 10 percent in just the last year. Experts say the surge in frozen food sales is caused by rising fresh food prices and consumers becoming more concerned about spoilage and waste. The seafood industry, which heavily relies on refrigeration and freezing, is especially hit hard by surging prices. In addition, the increased costs of factors such as labor shortages, backed-up US ports, increased transportation prices, seafood cost hikes, and packaging are complicating operations. These trends have caught many smaller LTL shipping companies off guard.

Chemical Transport

While frozen food can spoil when temperatures climb, chemicals can begin to break down and even explode. Before shipping any chemical or volatile substance, responsible logistics companies check the substance’s Material Data Safety Sheet for precise instructions. Combustible substances that should never be exposed to high temperatures include cumene, acetic acid, phenol and propionic acid.

Pharmaceutical Industry

The rules for transporting pharmaceutical products are set by the Food and Drug Administration, and they are very strict. Vaccines and drugs can become ineffective if they are not stored and shipped at precise temperatures, and these temperatures are often as low as 2 degrees Celsius. Pharmaceutical products that must be kept cold during transport include insulin, rescue inhalers, and eye drops to treat glaucoma.

Choosing the Top Frozen LTL Carrier in the U.S.

​Mulder Brothers Brokerage has become a leader in the frozen LTL sector because we offer coast-to-coast service backed up by some of the best customer service in the industry. Most brokerage firms have minimal trucking experience, but Mulder Brothers Brokerage knows the business inside and out. In addition to an entire fleet of refrigerated trucks, we offer our clients an integrated cold supply chain that includes climate-controlled warehouses and dispatch centers. If you operate in a regulated industry and need your products shipped fast and in a controlled environment, you should choose the nation’s top frozen LTL carrier.

Experience Matters When Shipping LTL Frozen Goods

Transporting frozen foods, chemicals, or pharmaceutical products and other perishables safely and efficiently takes a great deal of experience. Frozen products must be loaded in a way that allows air to circulate as this will draw heat from the truck’s floor, ceiling and walls as well as the cargo. When this is done properly, a consistent temperature is maintained throughout the trailer or refrigerated compartment. Loading and unloading must also be closely monitored and completed quickly to minimize contact with warmer environments.

Mulder Brothers Brokerage was founded in 2008, but it is backed by a trucking company that has been in business since 1971. This means we can offer our clients cross-docking, redelivery and warehousing services as well as frozen LTL shipments. Our clients pay extremely competitive rates that do not fluctuate with the season, and we offer year-round shipping services and superior customer service.

Contact Mulder Brothers for Frozen LTL Shipping Expertise

If you would like to learn more about the services offered by Mulder Brothers Brokerage and how we could help your company better its bottom line, you can call us on (616) 392-5907, or you could ask us your questions by filling out our online form.

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