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International Logistics: refrigerated cargo freight



Have you ever wondered how products such as meat, fruit, ice cream, and even medicines are transported over long distances? In this post, we will seek to present the International Freight of refrigerated cargo, in addition to some important information that must be kept in mind for the prospect of exporting products that require this special treatment.


In this sense, refrigerated cargo are basically those products that, due to their perishability characteristics - that is, their low expiration date under various conditions - require temperature control during transportation over long distances. The importance of this control is noticeable to the extent that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), of the entire amount of food lost annually, corresponding to 1.3 billion tons, the logistical process of production, storage and transport is responsible for 54%. Such losses, besides generating negative socio-environmental impacts, also impact companies, resulting in losses and reducing the profit margin of exports.

Once the importance of this category is understood, one can think about the main modes and devices used in the transportation of refrigerated cargo:

First, there is the refrigerated road freight, which can be carried out by trucks with specific bodywork that can meet the specific temperature requirements of a given product. The refrigerated trunk type, which works as a mobile cold chamber, is the most used and recommended, able to reach temperatures between 0 and -20 degrees Celsius, depending on the model.

In the refrigerated maritime freight modal, in turn, it also counts on technologies such as refrigerated containers, which allow greater control of the temperature during transport, with the possibility of prior adjustment of the conditions even before the goods arrive in the containers, ensuring rigorous handling of those products that require it. This transport is used, in general, for large quantities of cargo to be transported, because due to its large storage capacity, it favors the cost-benefit ratio.


Lastly, we have the refrigerated air transport, which is faster, being the advisable means for the export of more delicate or perishable products. Not only the flight time, but also the waiting times during transshipment, stock audits, dispatch, and other stages of handling the goods must be taken into consideration. Thus, there are several solutions for maintaining the cold chain in air freight. One of these solutions is isothermal packs, which can be of different capacities and are more effective in direct flights, but generally require some complementary cooling material, such as dry ice or gel packs. Dry ice, however, for the purposes of air freight, is considered a dangerous commodity and is a limiting factor in the quantity transported.


Another solution for refrigerated air freight are the AcuTemps, loading units (ULD) equipped with compressor and batteries that allow the maintenance of controlled temperature up to 100h. This medium does not carry dry ice, unlike Envirotainers, ULDs with a compartment for this material and which maintain the temperature for up to 72 hours. Because of this, the AcuTemps can board any type of aircraft.


Therefore, the choice of the transportation modal involves several variables, such as estimated freight time, risk rates, cost-benefits, and the most appropriate storage, among other factors that comprise the logistics chain. Thus, it is a customized path for each type of merchandise and export contract, demanding a complete and individual analysis.


By: Victória Rodrigues




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