March 21, 2024

Why Temperature-Controlled Shipping Matters

Although it may seem like temperature-controlled shipping is a modern way of transporting perishable goods while maintaining their freshness and quality, it actually dates back hundreds of years. While the cold chain is newer, refrigerating temperature-sensitive goods during transportation can first be traced back to 1797 - when a British fishermen used ice to preserve their stockpiles of fish.

Then, in the mid-1920’s, the first refrigerated trucks became common on US roads and highways after an increased demand for ice cream by consumers. Soon after this, these refrigerated trucks were being used beyond the ice cream industry, by butcheries, delis, and other businesses that relied on perishable foods arriving fresh. In 1930, Frederick Jones designed and patented a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying perishable food. And by the late 1930s, refrigerated rail cars and trucks were carrying perishable foods long distances.

Fast forward to today and it’s amazing to see how far temperature-controlled shipping has come and how much the cold chain industry has grown. The current technology enables trucks carrying perishable goods to reach remote places and to keep food fresh for even longer durations of travel. Further, modern technology enables us to closely monitor a product’s freshness for the duration of travel, compile important data, and provide alerts to make important business decisions. This all allows for a high level of control in each part of the cold chain.

Temperature-Controlled Shipping

Storage, distribution, and delivery of temperature-sensitive goods require temperature precision to keep food safe and remain in compliance with federal regulations. The most critical part of cold chain and frozen shipping logistics is keeping items at the right temperature for the entire journey from the manufacturer or point-of-origin to the final destination in a store or other location. This includes transportation time in trucks and any temporary storage along the way.

Temperature-controlled trucks are one of the main ways perishable items are transported, with statistics from the food industry revealing that over 90 percent of total food and produce in the US will spend time in a refrigerated truck. Refrigerated trucks equipped with smart sensors , insulated containers with automated climate controls, and digital temperature monitors offer real-time tracking, alert systems for deviations, and data recording. This helps ensure adherence to specific temperature requirements for various food categories.


How Temperature-Controlled Trucks Work

Temperature regulation can be accomplished in different ways, including product packaging or the truck itself. Trucks can use passive or active temperature-control methods. Double-walled trucks provide passive insulation. Refrigerated or reefer trucks use a combination of double-wall insulation and an active refrigeration system powered by a motor to generate correct temperatures.

Most modern refrigerated trucks are diesel-powered, with a separate battery-powered supply that runs the refrigeration unit. Even if the engine is off, the battery-powered standby ensures temperature-sensitive goods can still remain at their required temperatures. This feature is critical during interim breaks or road emergencies like traffic.

Maintaining Food Temperature During Transit

Refrigeration is critical for maintaining the quality of perishable food during transportation. The primary goal in any temperature-controlled shipping service is to maintain the quality of the perishable products being shipped throughout the entire cold chain process, including last mile delivery. This ensures that the products being delivered will have maximum shelf life, without degradation of quality.

If the temperature of the food is too warm, it becomes an ideal breeding ground for many kinds of pathogens. Many times, bacteria and fungi are to blame. As they grow in the food items, toxic chemicals can surface and cause consumers to become sick. Some of the most susceptible food items include cut fruits and vegetables, dairy items, eggs, and milk. Meat is also particularly risky and needs to stay cold.

Maintaining the temperature of food during transportation in temperature-controlled trucks ensures food remains at the required temperature and stays microbiologically stable. Ensuring the freshness, safety, and quality of food items is important for businesses, such as restaurants and supermarkets, to provide fresh food to customers, as well as adhere to transportation protocols that prevent contamination.

Temperature-Controlled Shipping: Evigence’s 3-Pillar Solution

Evigence’s Freshness Management Platform for temperature-controlled shipping is made up of three pillars:

1. Monitoring

Our sensors (known as time-temperature indicators (TTIs)) serve as pivotal tools in the freshness monitoring process and are far more accurate than outdated and unreliable date codes. Our TTIs meticulously and consistently monitor the freshness of perishable items by tracking cumulative time and temperature, and relaying this information to businesses.

The TTIs are easily placed on items, serving as a cost-effective product label that provides a clear indication when the temperature falls outside the ideal temperature range. 

2. Data Collection

We deliver freshness data both digitally through QR scan and physically, facilitating "at a glance" freshness assessments that are valuable for retail and consumer settings. Upon delivery, sensors are scanned digitally and physically read, providing an instant read of the product’s remaining freshness. Using this technology enables you to instantly identify decreases in freshness and take the most appropriate action in a timely manner. Non-fresh alerts offer immediate insights, and granular data can be analyzed for freshness comparison.

3. Analysis

The data collected via our sensors enable us to create invaluable analytics. Scan data is aggregated and analyzed by corporate teams via the Evigence Insights Engine so freshness can be optimized across operations. This provides you with insights to help you further improve the cold chain process for your products.

This 3-pillar solution is powered by a strong technology platform and partner network that allows us to deliver best-in-class service to our customers. By strategically integrating analytics across the supply chain, the quality and safety of food products reaching consumers is greatly elevated. Analytics support food safety protocols, ensuring freshness and safety are upheld at every stage of production, distribution, and consumption.

Work With Us

When you partner with us for cold chain freshness management or last mile freshness management, you’ll benefit from our 3-pillar solution to temperature-controlled shipping and monitoring food's freshness in real time, from production through consumption.

Contact us for more information about how the combination of our monitoring, data collection, and analytics can support and improve your cold chain process.


Courtney Cook, Marketing Director

Start optimizing freshness across your supply chain and

extend food’s shelf life

Get in touch