What to Know About Shipping Through Different Climates


The global economy allows businesses to buy materials from one corner of the map, utilize manufacturing services in a different country and sell completed products in a third, completely separate region. On one hand, this allows organizations to keep costs low and quality high by taking advantage of the best materials and manufacturing on Earth; on the other hand, it means that companies are permitting a certain degree of risk to befall their goods, as they travel here and there around the globe.

Some regions are more difficult and dangerous to ship through than others. Here are a few places where shippers might take extra precautions to protect their goods, so that the end product is perfect for the ultimate user.

Arctic Regions

The Arctic and the Antarctic are, respectively, the northernmost and southernmost regions of the Earth. Some scientists define these regions 66.5 degrees latitude  north or south of the Equator, though many of the hazards of the Arctic and Antarctic extend slightly beyond these cartographical boundaries. Because these regions experience the least amount of direct sunlight, they are exceedingly cold and tend to be covered in snow and ice for the entire year. In addition to extremely cold temperatures, shipments passing through these regions could be more susceptible to delays due to road closures.

Perhaps the most important consideration for goods moving through Arctic regions is insulation against the cold. The typical temperature for the Arctic Circle is around freezing, though scientists have recorded lows as far as -92 degrees Fahrenheit. Most shipping containers should be fitted with robust heaters to keep goods in safe temperature ranges. Additionally, it might be wise to use insulation to protect goods against shocks, as dangerous Arctic roadways often boast higher rates of collisions and accidents. Shock indicators might also be useful in determining whether goods shipped through these regions have received rough handling.

Desert Regions

Deserts are regions that receive no more than about 10 inches of precipitation per year. Though there are cold deserts — in fact, much of the Arctic and Antarctic are considered deserts — such a severe lack of precipitation in most parts of the world results in exceedingly high temperatures, and extreme heat tends to be a severe threat to almost all shipped goods. Transport through deserts can be especially risky for goods in the cold chain, and shippers and carriers alike must rely on a bevy of cold chain technologies to monitor and protect their freight.

Like Arctic regions, some desert regions suffer from poorly maintained roadways that might increase the likelihood of shock and impact damage. In addition to using impact labels, shippers might take time to investigate the risks associated with different desert routes and select carriers with experience moving special types of freight through these regions.

Fortunately, deserts produce a dry heat which means there is little to no humidity that can compound the effects of extreme temperature shifts. Thus, cold chain shippers and carriers operating in deserts need only worry about temperature control and not any kind of dehumidification or desiccation. — which is not true of shipments passing through tropical regions.

Tropical Regions

Tropical regions are defined by their proximity to the Earth’s Equator, which means they receive the most amount of direct sunlight. The flow of air around the atmosphere allows humidity to concentrate in these regions, so the tropics tend to be intensely hot and humid year-round, with high levels of precipitation, to boot.

Shippers and carriers operating in tropical zones need to protect their freight against both temperature and moisture. Even during the dry season, shippers and carriers need to be careful to use tools that will eliminate moisture inside trucks and containers, as humidity in tropical regions always stays within the 60 percent to 100 percent range. Powered reefer units are usually essential for maintaining the cold chain in these zones, and powered ventilation as well as aggressive use of desiccants or powered dehumidifiers can help keep goods safe from water damage that can occur through condensation.

Every region has its differences — which is part of what makes the Earth such a stunningly beautiful planet. However, those differences can make it difficult to maintain a cold chain, so shippers should be careful to review the risks of any region their goods will pass through and prepare accordingly.