Temperature Controlled Transport


Temperature controlled transport isn’t new – as far back as the 1840s refrigerated cars were used to transport dairy and seafood and keep them cool. It’s a bit more evolved than that now, with many logistics companies specialising in the storage and transport of cargo that needs to be constantly maintained at a certain temperature.

Standard shipping containers generally run at about 30 degrees warmer than the air outside. Whilst lots of products will be fine in these warm temperatures, there are many industries that rely on being able to keep products cool in transit.

What can temperature controlled transport be used for?

  • Chemicals and dangerous goods – many chemicals need to be kept at certain temperatures in order to not become volatile. Batteries, circuit boards and wires can also face heat damage if not kept cool enough.
  • Pharmaceuticals and cosmetics – given the high value of certain medicines, it’s vital that they reach their destination without getting too hot or cold and expiring, or it could result in a huge loss of profit. Cosmetics can also be affected by heat, with products like lipsticks melting when too warm.
  • Flowers and plants – keeping flowers and plants cool after they come out of the ground helps extend their shelf life. If they’re transported in hot vans, they’ll wilt before they’ve even reached their destination.
  • Blood and organs – preserving organs and blood requires very cool temperatures, but not as low as freezing. With around 6000 people on transplant lists in the UK alone, it’s essential to have blood and organs kept at a key temperature in order to save lives.
  • Food and tobacco – clearly, certain foods need to be kept cool so as not to perish in transit and make it to the shelves in a fresh state. Products like cigars and cigarettes also need protecting from high temperatures and humidity.

How can I transport temperature controlled products?

You’ve got a choice between air, road, and sea shipping – and all three can be controlled carefully to keep the products at the correct temperature.

Road freight is often the cheapest option, and tends to be quicker over shorter inland distances, but is obviously not always the best option for long cross-country or inter country trips that need constant temperature control. Via road, the products would be shipped either in refrigerated vehicles or passive shipping containers.

Passive Shipping systems are storage containers that use a mixture of electricity (either from the engine of the vehicle or from their own units and backups) and insulating materials to maintain temperature control. They can only maintain control for set periods of time, so are effective for shorter journeys.


Air freight is the most popular form of temperature controlled transport, as it’s efficient and isn’t stopped by geographical obstacles – or traffic. It can even be used to transport from one part of the country to another.
There are a couple of different ways to transport products in a temperature controlled environment via air.

Commercial airlines often offer cargo services, but will have less storage space than planes dedicated to cargo. Planes dedicated to cargo will have been purpose built, so they’ll have more space. Both use some sort of active shipping system. These are similar to passive shipping containers, but typically used in air and sea freight rather than road freight. They are usually powered by an external electrical source or internal batteries, and can maintain temperature via heating mechanisms or cooling fans, for as long as the power sources run.

Air Freight is the favourite for a reason – it’s efficient, reliable, and very rarely slowed down by external issues. However, it’s one of the pricier options. It’s getting more expensive over time, but there are alternatives.


Sea freight is the main alternative to air freight. Almost 20% of the transport of pharmaceutical products is currently done by sea freight, but this number is expected to rise to 75% within a decade. This is because sea freight is a very controlled and easy to monitor environment, and it’s more cost effective than air freight. However, it does tend to be slower and isn’t very practical for reaching remote in-land locations.

At Pinnacle, we can offer you air, road, and sea logistics at competitive rates. If you’d like to know more, contact us today. We’ve been providing excellent services in worldwide logistics for almost 50 years. If you’re U.K based, give us a call on 0845 6216 111 or drop us an email at enquiry@pif.co.uk. If you’re in the USA, call us on +1 757 306 1211 or email us at inquiry@pinnaclefreight.com. Alternatively, you can request a quote with us today.

Temperature Controlled Transport

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