Last year’s series of winter storms left cities motionless, halted government operations, grounded airplanes, and brought ground transportation to a screeching stop. For shippers of temperature-sensitive freight, 2014 will go down as one of the most problematic winters in recent history. With temperature controlled transportation capacity being severely limited and shipping in a dry van being a very risky decision, unprecedented challenges were brought into focus.
In order to avoid catastrophe this year, many businesses have focused their attention on protecting their supply chain against potential problems and delays. This will be especially challenging for businesses that ship and receive water-based products throughout the Northeast region. Luckily, shippers can purchase a comprehensive winter protection service that protects their cargo from freezing temperatures.
What is “winter protection?”
Winter protection services are used by many carriers to ensure goods are kept at a constant temperature and do not go outside their ideal range. It is mostly used for liquids or water-based products such as paints, glues, alcohol, food items, batteries, and other chemicals that have the potential to freeze when the outside temperature falls below zero. Depending on the specific needs of your shipment, winter protection services can include one or more of the following:
- 24/7 all-weather capabilities
- Temperature controlled transportation
- Temperature- controlled storage facilities
- Thermal blankets or quilts
- Snow chains for transportation units
- Snow removal equipment
- Emergency power sources
Most shippers will naturally select the best protection their budget can afford. When heated or refrigerated units are too expensive to justify, passive insulation is often the best solution.
How does passive insulation work?
Many shippers choose to use a passive insulation service as it is more economical and does not have the same capacity limitations as heated and refrigerated transportation. Passive insulation utilizes thermal blankets for shippers who can’t transport their product in dry equipment, but don’t require a heated unit. The mechanics are fairly simple: the core material of the blankets traps the air coming off the product while a layer of foil directs ambient air away from the surface to reduce the amount of heat exchange that occurs between the product and its environment.
The blankets are usually placed over the palletized freight to create a buffer between the product and the outside air. The product(s) are packed closed closely together reduce surface space and minimize the amount of heat transfer that occurs. For example, a large container of liquid will freeze much slower than several small containers of liquid. This means that smaller containers should be stored as close together as possible to maintain a large thermal mass.
Passive insulation works by sheltering the cargo from outside conditions by using special blankets or quilts to limit the products interaction with it’s environment. Other benefits of winter protection such as temperature controlled transportation and storage units, as well as snow chains and snow removal equipment can be used to ensure freight is not exposed to extreme temperatures for extended periods.
Is it right for me?
The technology behind passive insulation has been used by shippers since the early 1990’s to save on the cost of reefer trailers or for extra peace of mind when shipping temperature-sensitive products. Unlike temperature controlled transportation, passive insulation does not stop temperature change by replacing air. Instead, it simply resists temperature fluctuations by shielding the product from its environment. Whether this is a relevant concern can be determined by a risk assessment based on the cost of replacement versus the risk. To learn more about passive insulation and other winter protection services, contact FreightCenter by emailing email@example.com or by calling our customer service line at 800-716-7608 .