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Refrigerated Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) shipping is a specialized transportation service to maintain specific temperature conditions for perishable goods. Unlike traditional LTL shipping, refrigerated LTL utilizes temperature-controlled trailers with refrigeration units. These units ensure that products such as food, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural goods remain at the optimal temperature range from pickup to delivery, preserving their quality, safety, and integrity. In this blog, we’ll explain what refrigerated LTL is and the major industries driving demand.

Refrigerated LTL vs. Dry Van LTL

While both Refrigerated LTL and Dry Van LTL share the purpose of transporting goods from one location to another, they differ significantly in their capabilities and applications.

  • Temperature Control: The primary distinction lies in their ability to regulate temperature. Refrigerated LTL maintains specific temperature ranges, typically between -20°F to 70°F (-29°C to 21°C), ensuring the preservation of perishable items. Dry Van LTL provides no temperature control, making it suitable for non-perishable goods that do not require specific climate conditions.
  • Product Suitability: Refrigerated LTL is ideal for transporting perishable items such as fresh produce, dairy products, meat, seafood, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive goods. Dry Van LTL is more suited to items that can withstand ambient temperatures, including packaged goods, electronics, furniture, and clothing.
  • Cost: Refrigerated LTL typically commands higher shipping costs due to the specialized equipment and technology involved. However, the added expense is justified by the ability to preserve the quality and safety of perishable goods, reducing the risk of spoilage or damage.
  • Market Demand: The growing demand for perishable foods, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products has fueled the expansion of the refrigerated LTL market. As industries seek reliable temperature-controlled transportation solutions, the demand for refrigerated LTL continues to rise. In contrast, dry van LTL remains a staple for general freight transportation, catering to many industries and product types.

The Food & Beverage Industry

Refrigerated LTL finds its stronghold in the food and beverage sector, dominating the reefer truck market. In an industry where logistics costs account for 7-10% of the total product cost, efficient and reliable temperature-controlled transportation is non-negotiable. With the rising demand for chilled and frozen foods due to the proliferation of quick-service restaurants and retail locations, the need for robust refrigerated logistics solutions has never been greater.

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Beyond just food, the pharmaceutical industry is another major benefactor of refrigerated LTL services. The United States leads the charge in drug development, with about 95% of new drugs entering the market originating from its laboratories. This reliance on pharmaceutical innovation necessitates stringent temperature-controlled logistics for medications and chemicals. Moreover, the recent global health crisis has amplified this need, with pharmaceutical companies increasingly relying on refrigerated shipping options to preserve and transport potential treatments for viral infections like COVID-19.

The Agricultural Industry

The agricultural sector forms yet another cornerstone of the refrigerated trucking industry. With the growth in agricultural products and increasing trade, there’s been a surge in reliance on refrigerated transportation. From fresh produce to dairy products, maintaining optimal temperatures during transit is essential to preserving the quality and safety of these perishable goods.

Refrigerated LTL Logistics | Synchrogistics  

Are you looking to streamline your refrigerated LTL logistics with a trusted partner? Synchrogistics offers tailored temperature-controlled solutions to ensure the integrity of your perishable goods. One of our services is LTL consolidations, where we efficiently combine multiple less-than-truckload shipments from different customers into one truckload. LTL consolidation not only maximizes the use of space but also reduces costs for all parties involved. By leveraging our expertise in LTL consolidations, we help you streamline your logistics operations, minimize transit times, and ultimately enhance the overall efficiency of your supply chain. Contact us today to learn more about how Synchrogistics can synchronize your logistics for success.

 


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Raleigh, April 19, 2024Synchrogistics, a rapidly expanding logistics and supply chain firm, has been featured in the latest article by the Triangle Business Journal. Titled “Top exec at $80M Raleigh logistics firm sees the road to more growth,” the article highlights the incredible journey of Synchrogistics logistics in Raleigh and the pivotal role of our President, Erica Jackson, in driving its success.

Founded in 2010 by Erica and Bill Jackson, Synchrogistics started in a Greensboro garage. Bill’s background in transportation consulting and Erica’s legal expertise laid the foundation for their innovative analytics and technology-driven approach to logistics. Despite initial challenges, Synchrogistics quickly gained momentum and expanded its operations, attracting a talented team of 40 individuals. In 2017, the Jacksons relocated the company to Raleigh, drawn by the region’s vibrant talent pool and Erica’s deep ties to the Triangle area, having earned degrees from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. Since then, the company has experienced rapid growth, with revenues soaring from under $50 million to $81 million in 2022. In the article, Erica reflects on the company’s journey and its prospects, emphasizing the importance of staying focused on differentiation and remaining adaptive to customers’ needs. Erica also shares insights into the challenges of leading a rapidly growing team and the ongoing development required to strike the right balance between high expectations and support.

Synchrogistics’ remarkable success has not gone unnoticed, earning recognition as one of the fastest-growing private firms in the area by Triangle Business Journal. We are so proud of our team and honored to receive this recognition. Click here to read the Triangle Business Journal article.


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On August 6th, after 99 years in business, Yellow, one of America’s most prominent trucking firms, declared bankruptcy due to falling sales and significant debt, laying off its 30,000 staff.

The American logistics industry witnessed a surge in demand between 2020 and mid-2022, with revenues growing by approximately a third, driven by stimulus checks and the lockdown-induced focus on goods, leading to the industry hiring a million workers and constructing 1.8 billion square feet of new storage space.

A shift is occurring as consumers prefer experiential over material goods, resulting in stagnated goods spending; the logistics sector saw three consecutive quarter-on-quarter declines in revenues, with the volume of goods in American ports in July 2023 dropping 14% compared to the previous year.

The industry’s downturn has caused a drop in dry van shipping costs by 21% since early 2022, and approximately 20,000 truck operators (nearly 3% of the total) have halted operations since mid-2022; the sector has also seen significant layoffs, with parcel delivery and warehouse operators shedding almost 100,000 jobs combined.

While investments have decreased with a 40% reduction in warehouses under construction compared to a year ago, analysts remain hopeful for a rebound in the latter half of the year, anticipating growth for major players like UPS and FedEx, provided the American economy maintains its strength.

Synchrogistics logistics in Raleigh remains a steadfast partner for businesses seeking reliable and efficient transportation solutions. Contact us today to learn how we can support your logistics needs and help your business thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.


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Truckload rates continue to remain low, though spot rates appear to have stabilized for now, according to DAT Freight & Analytics. The trucking industry is in the late stages of a freight cycle downturn, but positive destocking trends have helped balance the low demand. While the rate of price erosion and demand decrease have slowed, the industry has not yet reached the bottom. Consumer spending has shifted towards services, indicating a recovery in the service economy. However, expected patterns like produce season have been weaker than anticipated. Analysts believe the industry won’t see significant changes until demand improves, and (potentially) an increase in fleet closures. Despite some positive signs, the rest of the year is not expected to be particularly strong for trucking industry pricing.

Discover how Synchrogistics can optimize your logistics in Raleigh amidst fluctuating truckload rates. Contact us today to streamline your supply chain and drive efficiency.

 


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Synchrogistics logistics in Raleigh has delivered immediate freight savings for almost a decade across multiple market cycles, industry verticals, and transportation modes. Our transparent pricing model builds trust with our clients and allows for crystal clear communication.

The Synchro Effect is real – reach out to us for a free freight spend analysis to see your potential savings opportunity.

 


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We’ve heard from people that the trucking industry is currently in a freight recession or even that one began earlier this year. A freight recession typically combines falling shipment volumes with flat to negative pricing trends. What some industry participants (particularly brokers) are likely feeling right now is the pain from a collapse in spot market pricing as a greater supply of trucks chases a more slowly growing shipment market. While the US economy is in transition to a lower growth rate, we wouldn’t use the term “freight recession” yet for the following reasons:

1) Shipment Volume ⇑ September 2022 vs 2021
  • The Cass Freight Index reports September 2022 shipments 4.8% above the same time in 2021: Cass Transportation Index Report.
  • At the same time, the Federal Reserve industrial production index shows that manufactured goods are still expanding… for now.
  • If we weren’t in a freight recession a year ago, it seems unlikely that we are be in one now with higher freight volumes and expanding manufacturing.
2) ATA Truck Tonnage Index ⇑ Highest Level Since 2019
  • The American Trucking Association reports September 2022 for-hire truck tonnage at 5.5% above the same time in 2021. ATA September Report
  • The fact that two independent measurements of truck tonnage (ATA and Cass) show expansion during 3Q22 gives us confidence that the overall number of shipments moved during 3Q22 was indeed higher than a year ago. That’s evidence that the market was still expanding in 3Q22, not contracting.
3) 3Q22 Asset Carrier Earnings Releases ⇑
  • From JB Hunt (intermodal) to Knight Swift (TL) to Old Dominion (LTL), 3Q22 earnings releases from the largest asset carriers had EPS within or above guidance with companies reporting overall volume and price growth in 3Q22.
  • Old Dominion did show negative volumes of 2.6% vs last year, but Old Dominion has a strong focus on yield (i.e., higher prices) with a 17.4% increase in revenue per hundredweight YoY.
  • The BLS Producer Price Index for general freight trucking, long distance was also up 22% in 3Q22. Traditionally large asset carriers have more contracted lanes, and those lanes don’t usually reset until 4Q of a year.
  • Publicly traded companies may be seeing slowing volume growth, but their combined volumes are still above where they were last year. Pricing (especially contract pricing) continues to show strength, both anecdotally (in Old Dominion’s yield growth) and on a macro level (BLS PPI for trucking).
4) High Inventory Levels Saw Growth in 3Q22
  • Across the US economy, inventory levels are at historic highs. Even given that, net business inventories grew during 3Q22 albeit at a slower pace than earlier in the year. Manufacturing inventories levelled off in 3Q22, but retail inventories continued to grow.
  • Trucks are needed to move inventory, so growing inventories across the country means trucks were moving in 3Q22 to supply the goods. While the growth is slowing, the inventory portion of the freight market continued to grow in 3Q22.
5) Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Survey Still Reading Growth
  • ISM in August reported 52.8 followed by September’s reading of 50.9. While the survey still showed expansion, this is the lowest figure in over 28 months.
  • And look at that downward trend…more on that in our next post.
6) While spot market rates have submarined, contract rates continue to show year over year growth…
  • As we mentioned at the top, people may mistake the drop in spot market rates for a freight recession. The below table from DAT (dat.com) certainly makes a convincing case that truckload dry van linehaul spot market rates are falling fast.
  • However, based on carrier earnings reports, contract rates in 3Q22 stayed stable and even increased in some cases.
  • This divergence cannot be sustained for long – spot market rates have their own economic gravity, and contract rates are bound to reflect the drop.

Nobody is arguing that we were in a freight recession in September 2021, so if the things that drive the trucking sector – shipments, inventory levels and manufacturing – are above the same period in 2021 then you’d have to argue that we weren’t in a freight recession as of September 30, 2022. That’s not to say that we don’t have pain and dislocation in certain sectors, just that it hasn’t coalesced into a full-blown hurricane of bad news just yet. However….