How to Improve Route Optimization and Work Efficiencies
How Can I Improve Work Efficiencies On Our LTL Routes?
Competing in the less-than-load (LTL) world is challenging. And handling mixed-temperature products—a big part of the LTL game—is particularly tricky. Every minute counts in transportation and strengthening work efficiencies is the key to success.
Loading and unloading a mixed-temperature truck can be a real pain. It involves using heavy, awkward cold walls to create temperature zones (which drivers aren’t usually very excited to do), and / or constantly shuffling pallets to get to the frozen product at the nose, closest to the reefer outlet.
Cold-walling and moving pallets around eats a lot of time and cranks up the inefficiency factor. In the ultra-competitive LTL world, every minute either earns you money or costs you money. Loading and unloading mixed-temp loads is one of those situations where you can almost see the dollar signs flying out the back of the truck and off into the wind.
All this shuffling also puts your product at risk of temperature excursions—and that’s the death knell for your client contracts. One shipment of ice cream that’s softened around the carton edges, and they’re making a call to your competitor.
A Close-Up Of One Of The Most Popular Ways Of Transporting Temperature-Sensitive Products
So, you might find this interesting. Transport refrigeration systems haven’t really evolved since they were first widely introduced to the market following WWII. (Side note: a self-taught Ohio car mechanic named Frederick McKinley Jones invented the refrigerated unit—what we now fondly refer to as the reefer.)
But World War II ended a long time ago. Just to really situate that in your head…our phones, televisions and cars are virtually unrecognizable compared to what they looked like in 1946:
Yet the cold chain looks pretty much the same 75 years on, in terms of the methods we use to pack, store and ship cold products. Here’s a snapshot of the state of the art when it comes to cooling:
- Dry ice
- Dry ice is actually solid carbon dioxide. Its cooling properties kick in as the material sublimates (turns directly into a gas right from its solid state, totally skipping over the liquid state) at -78°C.
- Gel packs
- These are sealed packages of phase-change material (PCM). They’re quite similar to the packs of blue goo you can buy at the pharmacy for when you sprain your ankle. PCM gel packs maintain temperatures between 2–8o°C and require reconditioning inside a freezer between uses.
- Eutectic plates
- Similar to gel packs, eutectic plates are plate structures that contain phase-change material. As the PCM melts, it releases its “coldness”. These plates require long periods of electrical recharging between uses.
- Charming in their simplicity but kind of stone-age in their ability to maintain precise temperatures, quilts are thermal blankets that dock workers or truck drivers place around frozen or chilled products to prevent heat intruding from the ambient air.
- Mechanical refrigeration
- These are the reefers, and they’re the current champion in the refrigerated transport industry. These vapour-compression systems require a power unit and use synthetic CFC refrigerants. Reefers dominate the market, with about 4 million worldwide, and an anticipated 9 million on the road by 2035. They’re being pumped out at a rate of 42,000 new units every year worldwide, but they’re coming under scrutiny due to their high cost of ownership and emissions.
And while many new refrigeration technologies are emerging, few of them hold real promise in their present forms. We’ll get into these in a future blog post.
For today, we’re going to highlight one of the most popular methods for packaging and transporting cold stuff: dry ice.
A lot of LTL carriers use insulated totes for shipping cold products. If you’ve ever used these blue totes, you will certainly also know that one of their significant drawbacks is that they have to be packed by hand. Like, item by item. There’s a catchy term for this in the trucking industry: hand-bombing. But you can give a bummer job all the catchy names you like, and it’s still just a bummer job—and for warehouse workers and truckers, hand-bombing freight qualifies.
What’s A Better Solution Than Dry Ice For Keeping Product Cold?
There’s this little white box that’s new to the market, and it pretty much makes all of your dry-ice, blue-tote and hand-bombing headaches a thing of the past.
We named it SnowSHIP™. It’s basically a small freezer with pinpoint temperature precision, built exactly big enough to fit a pallet of cold stuff inside. Unlike blue totes, SnowSHIP’s temperature control is bombproof (sorry, that one was so perfect that we just had to drop it in there). You could load that sucker up with Ben & Jerry’s on Monday morning, let it sit out on your dock for a few days in the warm spring sunshine, and come back on Thursday afternoon to scoop yourself a perfectly frozen hard ball of Cherry Garcia.
SnowSHIP makes hand-bombing and dry ice a thing of the past. With SnowSHIP, you can directly load a full pallet via a forklift, or, with the help of the CryoRAMP, you can load it or unload it with a manual or electric pallet jack.
SnowSHIP is easy to maneuver, too, and you can load it in whichever pallet position is most beneficial for your route. That means you don’t have to jam all the cold stuff up next to the reefer, knowing that you’re going to have to move it all around as the day’s deliveries unfold. Need frozen on your first stop? Load SnowSHIP right by the door—and you don’t have to quilt it to death due to it being located far from the reefer.
The cherry (Garcia) on top? Once you load it, you can forget about it. SnowSHIP even monitors, records and transmits load temperature and location to your desktop or smart device.
Save Money On Dry Ice & Reefer Costs
Refrigerated trailers are seriously expensive. Even dry ice is expensive. We’re currently saving one of our customers almost ten grand a month in dry ice costs alone.
Reefers are complex to operate, with more than 200 fault and alarm codes. They require a fair degree of knowledge to operate…and sometimes operator error costs an entire load. Add to this the fact that reefer technicians are becoming scarcer, and you can see the cold chain has itself some serious problems.
CryoLogistics’s SnowSHIP tightens the nut on all those loose parts in the unloading and loading process. Pallet-sized, easy to move and colder than the flagpole you froze your tongue to when you were seven, SnowSHIP takes a load of chilled product and holds it at a consistent temperature, not just for hours, but for days if you need it to.
There is a way out of blue-tote / reefer hell. Not only can your temperature-sensitive products now go in any pallet position, they can also travel on any type of transport truck, dry van included. The ability to put your temperature-sensitive product wherever is best for you allows you to optimize your routes, speed up deliveries and reduce manual labour associated with deliveries.
Save time. Save labour. Save money. Optimize your routes. Sound like a solution your company could benefit from? Give us a call, and we’ll set you up with a free field trial, so you can see for yourself.