Temperature controlled trucks are an integral part of the supply chain, responsible for maintaining specific temperature and humidity levels for on-route products to meet quality assurance requirements. Trucks deliver products to and from manufacturers, wholesale locations, storage facilities, and the final destinations, the retailer.
However, coordinating the number of trucks delivering to a store and ensuring product stays at the optimum temperature can be a logistical nightmare. As well, it is very expensive when stores need less than a truckload. That’s where the multi-temperature truck comes in as a more efficient alternative.
What Are Multi-Temperature Trucks?
Multi-temperature trucks keep different products at different temperatures using multiple refrigeration units. Trucks are segmented into flexibly sized compartments using skinny buns. Multi-temperature trucks are similar to single-temperature trucks: they use control and monitoring systems that assess the temperature of the refrigeration environment and individual products at regularly timed intervals. Remote evaporators are used to keep the units’ temperatures consistent and separate from each other.
Who Should Use Multi-Temperature Trucks
Grocery and pharmaceutical retailers are the main users of temperature controlled trucks. Today, many stores suffer from out of stocks or are inundated with multiple deliveries of a few pallets. Moving to multi-temperature delivery means fewer trucks at the receiving dock and allows for more frequent, smaller deliveries. This leads to fewer lost sales from out of stocks.
Food and health safety authorities, like the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), reinforce regulations and standards for players in these industries. For example, the CFIA’s Guide to Food Safety stipulates that refrigerated products should be handled at 4o C or less (just short of freezing), and frozen products at below 0o C. These guidelines are top level; the distribution system becomes more complex when specific product requirements or special orders are taken into account.
How Multi-Temperature Trucks Benefit Retailers
Retailers using single temperature trucks have to enlist multiple trucks to deliver shipments, but a multi-temperature truck combines these shipments in one order and eliminates the need for a second truck. Multi-temperature trucks also increase capacity by up to 60% depending on the design. Costs are reduced on two levels: the retailer expenses less for delivery and saves costs related to inefficiency.
Shipping multiple orders at once expedites operations by improving distribution flows. Products no longer need to wait at a warehouse until a truck configured to the appropriate temperatures arrives. Volume and inventory turnover increases, which enable retailers to serve their market better.
At the store level, with fewer trucks arriving, retailers can plan for the multi-temperature truck. The receiving dock will be clear. As well, stores receive advance notice as to when the delivery will arrive and how it was packed. This means that coolers can be prepared at store level and products can be moved from the truck directly to the appropriate location. Less product sitting around on the receiving dock means less shrink.
Minimize Environmental Impact
Multi-temperature trucks reduce emissions by decreasing the number of trips taken to deliver batch orders. Depending on the brand, some multi-temperature truck companies train their drivers to use planned routes that promote sustainability.
What It Takes To Succeed
Multi-temperature delivery success requires a commitment throughout the supply chain. At the manufacturer level, manufacturers need to be able to pick and pack orders by stores. From there, they will be required to deliver properly labeled orders on time to a cross docking facility. Because the multi-temperature trucks will be packed in a specific order, manufacturers must be on time or the delay will ripple throughout the entire supply chain.
The warehouse becomes a cross dock. Product moves from the temperature controlled manufacturer’s delivery truck to the multi-temperature truck. Selecting the right trucking service to fit the needs of your products is key. The service provider should understand regulatory guidelines and accommodate your timeframes and shipping needs. At the store, orders must meet manufacturer guidelines to ensure that manufacturers have time to pick, pack and deliver product. Because the multi-temperature trucks arrival times are tightly scheduled, coolers must be ready and the receiver must ensure that the dock is clear and ready to receive the truck. Product must be moved directly from the truck to the appropriate cooler.
Communication lines should be established prior to the first shipment to keep personnel up to date about status and bottlenecks. Staff must be trained on handling and documentation of shipments, and regular inspections should be carried out to ensure that packaging and contents meet industry standards.
If manufacturer, distribution centre and retailer can work in harmony, multi-temperature delivery can be a winning solution for everyone. It takes costs out of the supply chain and reduces shrink and out of stocks at store level. Ultimately, the consumer is the winner and that’s what every retailer aims for.