A Comparison of Transportation Considerations for Temperature Sensitive Bulk Liquids

Transportation Considerations

Bulk liquids are transported across the country and around the world each and every day. Some bulk liquids such as water may be moved in standard tank containers with trailers or on chassis. However, bulk liquid containers that are carrying temperature sensitive products require special modifications or equipment during transport in order to preserve the optimum product quality.

What Determines If a Product Requires Temperature Control During Transport?

Considerations such as; the type of product, the weather and the distance to be traveled are used to determine if equipment modifications or additional equipment are necessary to preserve product quality during transport. Temperature requirements for bulk liquid transportation are product specific and vary widely. Types of products requiring temperature control include food ingredients, consumable products and some hazardous materials. For each type of product, The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) governs the standards for transport.   

Depending on the weather, some bulk liquids such as molasses may not require temperature controls during transport. However, in colder temperatures, molasses thickens and may need to be warmed for optimal viscosity during loading and unloading.  In addition, perishable products such as; wine, milk, and juice require refrigerated tank containers. It’s important that perishable bulk liquids stay cool in order to preserve quality and prevent spoilage. Wine must be kept at a steady temperature between 55 and 65 degrees to avoid aging too quickly and to maintain its flavor. Therefore, depending on the time of year, different temperature controlled transportation equipment can be used to transport bulk liquid shipments of wine.  Another factor is distance. Milk is often transported only short distances to preserve freshness.

What Are Some of the Risk Factors for Choosing the Wrong Equipment? Are They Different for Standard vs. Temperature Sensitive Products?

For standard products that do not require temperature control equipment, failing to choose the correct tank and chassis or trailer presents some risks to the product being transported. For example, some petroleum based products may degrade or separate during transport. Some chemicals will corrupt tanks over time if they are not lined properly.  

For temperature sensitive bulk liquids the risk is much higher and care should be taken to select an appropriate tank container and implement the correct temperature control modifications. Failing to keep bulk liquid foods at the right temperature can result in spoilage, increase the risk of foodborne illnesses and / or result in bacterial growth. In general, foods must be kept at 40 degrees fahrenheit or below during transport. 

For both temperature sensitive and standard products, tanks must be free of contaminants which could affect quality or shelf life. It’s critical to use tanks which have been appropriately cleaned for both standard and temperature sensitive bulk liquids in order to prevent product contamination.

What Additional Equipment Is Required for Keeping Products at Warmer Temperatures? 

Tank containers may be insulated and / or equipped with transit heat lines to keep liquid products warm during transport. Electrically heated tanks are used to transport some products which are temperature sensitive and can freeze or expand in cold temperatures. Resins, food oils, fertilizers, fatty acids and crude oil are a few examples. 


What Additional Equipment Is Required for Keeping Products at Cooler Temperatures?

When transporting perishable goods, dry ice or refrigerated tank containers are used to keep bulk liquids cool. A tank container may also have pipes that carry refrigerant through the tank and a layer of insulation over the tank.  Another method is to use insulated tanks equipped with tank coils filled with liquid nitrogen as a coolant during bulk liquid transportation to maintain the desired temperature range.    

Penn Intermodal Leasing LLC understands bulk liquid transportation. Our experienced industry professionals will work with you to help select the right chassis and equipment for your bulk products. AND we will get your shipment on the road faster with a lease plan that is right for you. When you need answers quickly, Penn Intermodal Leasing LLC is the company to call. Contact us today.

April Uhlenburg
April U

April has been working with Penn Intermodal’s Sales and Operations teams to educate clients on the benefits of leasing chassis for bulk liquid storage and transport since 2012.