What You Want to Know: A Guide to Refrigerated Container Shipping

Have you ever wondered how perishable goods such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products travel across the globe to reach your local supermarket fresh and in good condition? The answer lies in refrigerated container transportation. This ingenious solution ensures that temperature-controlled cargo travels across the world, maintaining its quality throughout its journey. This article serves as your guide to the ins and outs of refrigerated container shipping.


Refrigerated containers, also known as “refrigerated boxes,” are essentially mobile refrigerators that can be transported by container ships, trains, and trucks. They are designed to maintain a steady temperature regardless of external conditions, from scorching desert heat to icy arctic cold. This feature is critical for the safe transportation of perishable goods.


In the modern global economy, CIMC Yangzhou Base efficient refrigerated container transportation plays a vital role. With the rise of international trade and the demand for exotic products around the world, the need for efficient and reliable shipping methods has never been greater.


The Importance of Refrigerated Container Shipping


In today’s connected world, refrigerated container shipping is not just a luxury, but a necessity. It allows us to enjoy fresh produce from far-flung regions, and it enables companies to expand their markets beyond their local area. This versatility and reach makes refrigerated container shipping an integral part of global supply chains.


Additionally, reefer container shipping plays an important role in reducing food waste. Reduce the amount of food wasted due to spoilage by providing a controlled environment for perishable commodities, ensuring they reach their destination in salable condition.


In addition, reefer container transportation is crucial in the pharmaceutical industry. Many life-saving medicines and vaccines require strict temperature control during transport. Globally distributing these essential medical supplies would be extremely challenging, if not impossible, without refrigerated containers.


Learn about the technology behind cooler storage containers


The technology behind refrigerated containers is fascinating and complex. These containers are equipped with refrigeration units that regulate the temperature inside. The device works by removing heat from inside the container and expelling it from the body, thereby maintaining a constant cool temperature inside the container.



Additionally, modern reefer containers are equipped with advanced technology that monitors temperature and humidity levels in real time. If the conditions inside the container deviate from the set parameters, this function can intervene immediately to ensure the safety and quality of the transported goods.



Further advances in refrigerated container technology included the introduction of controlled atmosphere technology. This involves not only regulating the temperature, but also the composition of the gas inside the container. For example, reducing oxygen levels can slow down the ripening process of fruits and vegetables, increasing their shelf life.



Refrigerated container transport type


There are different types of coolers on the market today. We can choose one based on energy efficiency, cargo type and transport requirements.


  • Closed refrigerator: This is a traditional overall refrigerator. It has an integral front wall and fully electric automatic cooling and heating.
  • Ventilation refrigerated containers: These are insulated containers with an air exchange system that keeps the air inside the container constant by exchanging air so that the oxygen level inside the box is balanced with the rate of deterioration of the cargo.
  • Automatic Fresh Air Management (AFAM) Reefer: This container features cutting-edge technology that automatically regulates the air exchange within the container to maintain a constant temperature. AFAM refrigerators work similarly to MA/CA refrigerators to control the composition of oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases. Its controls can be adjusted to extend the shelf life of the goods, regardless of external conditions.



How to choose the right refrigerated container for shipping


Choosing the right reefer container for shipping is a critical decision that can significantly affect the quality of the goods being shipped. Factors to consider include the size of the container, the type of refrigeration unit, and the specific temperature and humidity requirements of the cargo.



First, consider the volume of goods you need to transport. Refrigerated containers come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 20 feet to 40 feet, and choosing a size that can accommodate cargo without overcrowding is critical, as this can affect airflow and temperature regulation.



Next, consider the type of refrigeration unit. Some units are more energy efficient than others, and some offer more precise temperature control. It is also worth considering whether the device allows real-time monitoring and control of conditions inside the container.



Finally, consider the specific temperature and humidity requirements of your cargo. Different cargo requires different conditions and it is crucial to ensure that the container you choose can meet these requirements.


Goods suitable for refrigerated transport are divided into three categories


1. Frozen foods: including fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood, dairy products, eggs, candy, live plants and flowers. They need low temperatures around freezing, but not frozen. Their freshness and shelf life largely depend on their nature and surrounding conditions. Temperature settings for such products must take into account the transport phase of the crop. They must be transported with the utmost precision to preserve their commercial value. For example, asparagus and broccoli have high respiration rates and therefore release a lot of gas and moisture. They require optimal temperature and humidity levels so that their quality and shelf life are not compromised.


2. Frozen goods: refers to goods that need to be stored and transported at -20°C and below, that is, they are frozen solid. Ice cream, frozen meat, poultry and seafood, concentrates and prepared foods are some examples. Freezing temperatures prevent spoilage and help preserve flavor, aroma, texture and quality. They prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria and microorganisms while also slowing down enzyme activity and oxidation. For such cargo, the reefer must maintain no fluctuations in the freezing temperature. Repeated freezing and thawing can result in a mushy product.


3. Special and Miscellaneous Cargo: These are non-food products that require optimum temperature and humidity. The bulk of such shipments are pharmaceuticals and medicines. Tobacco, batteries, chemicals and film also fall into this category. Often, they have special handling instructions regarding packaging, loading, temperature and humidity control.


Best Practices for Cooler Storage Containers Transportation


To ensure successful shipping of perishable goods, follow best practices for reefer container shipping. These include pre-cooling containers before loading, ensuring goods are properly packed, and maintaining a cold chain throughout transit.


It is essential to pre-cool the container to the required temperature before loading the cargo. This can avoid a sudden increase in temperature when the cargo is loaded, resulting in deterioration of the cargo.


Proper packaging of goods is also important. Not only does this protect the cargo from physical damage, it also helps maintain proper humidity levels inside the container. For example, packaging that allows moisture to evaporate helps prevent the build-up of humidity inside the container.


Maintaining the cold chain throughout the shipping process is probably the most critical factor in reefer container shipping. This means ensuring that the cargo is kept at the desired temperature from the moment it is loaded into the container until it reaches its final destination.


Costs Involved in Shipping in Refrigerated Containers


Cooler storage containers shipping is usually more expensive than traditional container shipping due to the additional costs involved. These include the cost of the refrigerated container itself, the energy cost of running the refrigeration unit, and the costs associated with maintaining the cold chain.


Due to the specialized equipment and technology involved, refrigerated containers typically cost more than standard containers. In addition, cooling units require constant power, which increases energy costs.


There are also additional costs involved in maintaining the cold chain. This includes the cost of pre-cooling the container, monitoring the condition inside the container, and providing power to the refrigeration unit while in transit.


Despite these additional costs, the benefits of refrigerated container shipping often outweigh the expense, especially when shipping high-value perishable goods.


Challenges and solutions for refrigerated container transport


Like any industry, refrigerated container shipping presents its own set of challenges. These include maintaining the integrity of the cold chain, energy efficiency, and dealing with unexpected breakdowns or failures of refrigeration units.



The integrity of the cold chain is perhaps the biggest challenge. Any break in the cold chain, no matter how brief, can cause the goods to spoil. One way to solve this problem is to use a real-time monitoring system that can detect any deviations in temperature or humidity and alert the relevant parties to take immediate action.


Energy efficiency is another major challenge. Refrigeration units in refrigerated containers consume large amounts of electricity, and with rising energy costs and growing environmental concerns, more energy-efficient solutions are urgently needed. Technological advances are helping to solve this problem, with new types of refrigerated containers that can improve energy efficiency.


Unexpected breakdowns or malfunctions of refrigeration units can also present challenges. Regular maintenance and inspections can help prevent such problems, but in the event of a breakdown, having a contingency plan is crucial.


Future trends in refrigerated container transportation


Looking ahead, several trends are likely to shape the refrigerated container shipping industry. These include the increasing use of technology, greater focus on sustainability and the growth of e-commerce.


Technology is playing an increasingly important role in refrigerated container transportation. Real-time monitoring systems are becoming more sophisticated, allowing for more precise control of conditions inside containers. Additionally, advances in controlled atmosphere technology allow for greater control over the fruit and vegetable ripening process.


Sustainability is another key trend. With growing concerns about climate change and environmental impact, there is a growing need for more sustainable practices in refrigerated container shipping. This includes the development of more energy-efficient refrigeration units and the use of renewable energy.


The growth of e-commerce could also have a significant impact on the refrigerated container shipping industry. As more people shop online, the need for efficient and reliable delivery of perishable goods will increase. This is likely to drive further innovation and growth in the industry.



Conclusion: The future of refrigerated container shipping


In short, refrigerated container transportation is an important part of the global supply chain. It transports perishable goods over long distances, ensuring they reach their destination fresh and in top condition. Despite the challenges, the future of refrigerated container shipping looks promising.



As we move further into the 21st century, the efficient refrigerated container shipping industry will continue to play a vital role in our interconnected world. It’s an important and fascinating industry, and one that we often take for granted. So the next time you enjoy a bowl of fresh exotic fruit or receive a frozen treat, consider the reefer container that makes it all possible.


CIMC Yangzhou Base is a leading manufacturer of Refrigerated Container Shipping and various other standard and special logistics equipment. With years of experience in the industry, it focuses on the design, production and distribution of high-quality innovative products that meet the specific needs of customers.


If you need high-quality and innovative logistics equipment, including refrigerated containers, cold chain equipment, containerized equipment integration, modular buildings, etc., CIMC Yangzhou Base is your best choice. Welcome inquiries from customers all over the world and look forward to the opportunity to cooperate with you.


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