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Randy Swart

Many processed or manufactured food products are shelf-stable, so companies often won’t think twice about choosing a carrier to transport their products to a warehouse, distribution center or buyer. Generally the focus is on whether the carrier delivers products on time.

However, those food products are vulnerable in states that experience winter weather, and the packaging or the food itself can be damaged, or even ruined, if not properly transported or stored during extreme cold temperatures. Beverages are an obvious example of a manufactured product that can freeze if not transported properly during the winter months, but other shelf-stable products like soup or canned fruits and vegetables can also be damaged.

When selecting transportation options, shippers should consider a carrier’s unloading, loading and cross-docking operation. If shelf-stable products sit on a loading dock or in a warehouse without heat for too long, there’s a chance they will freeze and be damaged. While most foods are still safe to eat even if frozen and thawed, it can change their consistency or damage the packaging, so it is best to take precautionary measures and winterize the supply chain.

Winterizing Both Ends Of The Supply Chain

Food and beverage manufacturers should take winter weather into consideration when shipping their products to buyers. Partnering with a transportation company that operates a heated trailer fleet with heated facilities is the best way to ensure the integrity of the product. It is also important that food manufacturers ensure their suppliers utilize transportation partners that offer shipment freeze protection, as those food products are just as vulnerable in the winter cold.

Heated trailers are vital to keeping vulnerable food and beverage products at a safe temperature during transport. It’s also important to remember the different climates a shipment might travel through on its journey to the endpoint, as a food shipment leaving Texas may not need to be heated but if it’s headed to Maine, it will need freeze protection.

Choosing The Right Carrier

Companies receiving temperature sensitive shipments should request that suppliers use transportation providers that offer freeze protection with heated equipment and facilities. This option is in the supplier’s best interest too, as they will not have to send a new shipment to replace damaged goods or refund the buyer.

When choosing a carrier to ensure vulnerable shipments are protected it is important to ask the right questions. Some transportation companies may not offer true freeze protection, rather simply use thermal blankets and are burdened with constantly moving freight in order to keep products from sitting still too long. This increases the risk of the shipment not only freezing but being damaged in the process of continuous movement. A transportation provider with a genuine protect from freeze service will have heated trailers, warehouse facilities, service centers and docks. True freeze protection eliminates the possibility of a freight embargo or refusing pickup during extreme conditions. Freight embargoes delay shipments for extended periods of time and shipments will not move until the weather allows for the product to travel safely.

Planning Early

The probability of finding a carrier with heated trailers at the last minute is likely very slim. Most transportation providers set their capacity for their normal customer base. It is best to plan well ahead of the next winter season.

It is also important to keep an eye on the weather prior to any sensitive shipments, as winter storms can impact any well-laid plan. Continual communication ahead of these types of delays will help keep everyone informed and satisfied.

When it comes to transporting and storing food and beverage products during the winter months, it’s in everyone’s best interest — from the supplier to manufacturer to buyer — to plan ahead and protect vulnerable products. True protect from freeze services including heated trailers, loading docks and warehouses are all options that are available and should be utilized to protect from freezing and prevent damage due to weather extremes.

Randy Swart joined A. Duie Pyle in 2008 as vice president of integrated services before becoming senior vice president in 2012. In 2014, Swart was named chief operating officer, responsible for leading the company’s strategic direction, improving operational efficiencies and further developing employee advancement programs and succession plans. Over the course of his career, Swart has been at the forefront of innovation, created cross-functional team environments, nurtured employee development programs, and established information flow technologies that impact cost control, productivity, service quality and profitability.

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