Loading and unloading can be the most critical and complex point in a temperature controlled supply chain. Transferring product from one location to another adds factors to the process that are often unmonitored. Fortunately technology is rapidly improving in this critical space. In addition to maintaining the temperature of the truck, warehouse, and product, shippers and carriers must also take into consideration the temperature of the loading dock, outdoor weather conditions, and even the time it takes to load and unload items. While the shipper and carrier should each have specific obligations to fulfill during this process, confirming the work of the other party can help minimize problems and identify areas for improvement.
Confirm product temperature
If the product arrives at its final destination at the wrong temperature, it may be rejected. Many of today’s refrigeration units are not meant to cool products—only maintain a set temperature. Shipments or pallets not properly cooled prior to loading may never reach the correct temperature while in transit. Beyond that, the warm product may cause a rise in the ambient temperature of the trailer, thereby negatively affecting the temperature of other products. Prior to accepting loads, carriers should double check the temperature, including items deep within a pallet. This confirmation may help minimize the risk for rejection at the receiving end.
Inspect condition of equipment
While carriers certainly know their equipment best, a thorough inspection by both the carrier and shipper prior to loading can verify it is in good working order. Shippers should watch for tears in chutes that could prevent consistent temperatures, check for correct positioning of trailer vents (e.g., open, closed, open halfway, etc.), make note of any odors that may contaminate fresh goods, and pay attention to any other factors that could impact the effectiveness of the refrigeration or mobility of the vehicle. For example, vent position is critical when transporting bananas to ensure the proper elimination of additional ethylene gas at the right stage of transit.
Check for proper container air flow
Even if the product and vehicle meet all expectations, the way pallets are stacked—both how cases are stacked on a pallet as well as pallet positions within a trailer—can affect air flow. Blocked air may result in hot spots or cold zones. Shippers should oversee loading and watch that there is sufficient space for air to pass between pallets, walls, air chutes, the ceiling, and the floor.
All observations should be carefully documented by both parties. Standardized forms and photographs can help keep this information clear, accurate, and organized for review down the road. Any exceptions noted during pickup can be critical to understanding the cause of problems that may arise prior to or during delivery.Please visit us at www.Procuro.com to learn more about Cold Cnain Management.