The Pitfalls of Relying on Destination Temperatures

Choosing the right amount of coolant for a shipment is no simple task. It's a complex decision that depends on time-in-transit, box size, box contents, insulation, coolant types, and one variable that is notoriously unpredictable: weather. It changes daily and varies widely along shipping routes.

Put too much coolant in the box, and you’re not just wasting valuable materials—you're also unnecessarily increasing logistics costs. Put too little coolant in the box, and the result could be a costly re-ship, damaging both your bottom line and your reputation.

The Destination Temp Approach

When we first engage with customers, we often ask how they're currently determining coolant amounts. In most cases, the response involves relying on destination temperatures. Here are some typical explanations we hear:

  • “Each week, we update a spreadsheet with the high temperature for each state. If it's over X℉ and it's Y-days in transit, then we bump up the coolant Z amount.”
  • “I check the weather on Sunday, and if I see a heat wave in part of the country, I tell the team to add extra coolant for shipments headed that way.”

The Issue

While taking the destination temperature into account is a positive step, it only tells part of the story. A box is exposed to many different climates throughout its journey, each with its own weather patterns. If you're not considering the full journey, you might end up:

  • Under-icing shipments where the end destination is colder than the route. For example, see this temperature plot of a 2-day shipment from Oklahoma through Kansas to Denver. Even though Denver is 35℉, this shipment was exposed to some temperatures nearing 100℉.
  • Over-icing shipments where the end destination is hotter than the route. Such as this 2-day shipment from Indiana through Kentucky to Texas. Even though Texas will be above 80℉ when it’s delivered, most of this shipment’s journey is well below 50℉.

How Often Does This Happen?

Here’s a revealing histogram from the hundreds of thousands of perishable shipments we’ve processed in the past year. It shows the differences between destination highs and route average temperatures.

The key takeaways from this chart are:

  1. Risk of Under-Icing: The bars to the left of the graph represent shipments that would be at risk of under-icing - and possible re-ships. Surprisingly, 9% of the time, the destination’s high temperature is actually less than the route’s average temperature. For example, these shipments might be going to a cold Chicago, but passing through a hot Oklahoma and Missouri on the way.
  2. High temps are over-estimations: This one might feel obvious, but high temperatures don’t account for the day-night cycle, and so they will over-estimate your box’s exposure 91% of the time.
  3. Broad Distribution: The difference between the destination’s high temperature and the route’s average temperature spans a 50-degree range, highlighting how destination temperatures are not an accurate reflection of the temperature along a box’s journey.
  4. Significant Over-Icing: The bars to the right represent shipments that should be shipped with less coolant. 10% of the time, the destination’s high temp is even more than 20 degrees above the route’s average temperature. For example, these shipments could be delivered to a location with a 90℉ high, but the average along the way was 70℉ (meaning it was even colder than 70 a lot of the time).

Keep it Cool’s Approach

With Keep it Cool’s coolant prediction software, we go beyond mere destination forecasting. We predict each shipment’s entire route, and we use the forecasts along this route to inform our precise coolant predictions.

96% of the time, our predicted average temperature is within 5℉ of the actual route temperature. The remaining deviations are caused by unforeseen factors like delayed shipments.

Want to Learn More?

If you're intrigued by our data-driven, route-specific approach, we’d love to chat. Reach out below, and we will find a convenient time for a demo. We believe our methodology not only saves you money but ensures that your shipments arrive in the best possible condition.

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