It is very risky to use air freight to transport products that need to be maintained at a specific temperature as there are many critical points in the logistics chain that threaten the cold chain. From loading at the point of origin, awaiting loading on the runway (often in the sun), time in the hold (where the temperature can be anything from -18ºC to +20ºC), or waiting time in a warehouse, there are many external threats to the temperature of the product calling for specialist treatment by an expert perishable cargo freight forwarder.
Planning is crucial. Calculations must include not only flight duration but also connection times, cut-off times for each flight, clearance times, etc.
MAINTAINING THE COLD CHAIN IN AIR FREIGHT
There are various ways to maintain the cold chain from origin to destination depending on the type of product, the duration of the flight and connection times:
- Isothermal containers.
- Insulated packaging.
Envirotainers are Unit Load Devices (ULDs) equipped with a motor, batteries and a dry ice compartment that maintains the temperature for up to 72 hours. They are the ideal solution for highly sensitive pharmaceutical products.
AcuTemps are equipped with a compressor and batteries that maintain the temperature for up to 100 hours. As they do not involve dry ice (considered a hazardous substance) they can be loaded onto any type of plane, including passenger planes.
Various types of insulated packaging are available such as cardboard boxes with expanded polystyrene or aluminium sheets. This packaging comes in various sizes and is usually sufficient on direct flights if combined with a coolant.
COOLANTS FOR AIR FREIGHT:
Also known as carbon dioxide snow, dry ice is simply carbon dioxide (CO2) in solid form. It comes in different-sized blocks or pellets depending on the intended use. Although dry ice does not create waste, it evaporates and in air freight it is considered a hazardous substance, which tends to increase freight charges and limits the types of planes it can be loaded onto.
Gel packs are sealed bags of liquid coolant which absorb heat and maintain temperatures. Although they are not usually considered dangerous goods in air freight, they do tend to be more expensive than dry ice.
REFRIGERATED AND FROZEN AIR FREIGHT FOR FOODSTUFFS
Air freight is the only solution for certain consignments of perishable products either because of their short shelf life or because the option of refrigerated or frozen shipping groupage, or full reefer shipping is not available.
The consolidation of different foodstuffs is organised at our cold storage warehouses in Madrid, near Barajas airport, using insulated packaging and coolants in order to ensure the required temperature is maintained in transit. Thermographs can also be installed so the client can verify the temperature en route.
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