Logging in-box shipping temperatures

How and when to ship. What box / packing to use. Carrier reviews. Importation questions and answers.
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Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:16 am

Nate (nhaislip) and I have started a project testing out shipping methods to log temperatures under different conditions. We'll post back here as we develop more data, but for now, I thought you would be interested in our first baseline shipment. This was a FedEx ground shipment of a small box filled with crumpled paper containing a data logger. The goal was simply to record temperatures under extreme conditions, shipping from Austin TX to Dallas TX. We wanted to see what the box temperatures were in the FedEx sort facilities and "on the truck" while out for delivery. No animals were involved.

The following plot represents temperature (F) on the x-axis, time is on the y-axis; the temperature "trip" starts at the top of the plot and moves downward. The tan line represents temperatures recorded by the data logger. FedEx tracking data is plotted as distinct tan points on the line, with trip duration and temperature at that time labeled on the left of the data point and status and location on the right. The gray region in the background is the city temperature (weather.com) for the approximate location at that transit time. White gaps in the gray regions indicate transit times where I did not know the exact city location. Click on the attachment for a larger view:
boxTest_AUS-DFWver2.PNG

It surprised me how brutal the temps were in the FedEx facility that I used in Austin (Howard Lane depot) at drop off. Granted my box was not labeled live animals, nor did I specify it had to be held in a climate controlled location, but I was still surprised at how hot it got in the sort facility. I was equally shocked to see how low the temps were on the truck for delivery, especially when compared to outdoor temperatures.

This is the first attempt at a data graphic for this, so any feedback is appreciated. I'll iterate on the design to see if I can improve it - I'd really like to add a geo-location aspect to the plot, but I have to think about that a bit. We will keep you posted as we run a few more shipments. Next up will be insulated boxes.
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby BcsTx » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:58 am

Jim what kind of box was it shipped in?
Oops noticed it said non-insulated.
Need more coffee.
Great info BTW.
-Beth

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:28 am

Thanks Beth! I agree Phil - personally I would not ship animals under these conditions. Nate and I were looking to take advantage of the extreme temps to see how different box types perform. This was a first test with a crummy box and no insulation and it was intended to record what temperatures would be under bad conditions.

  • We intentionally held the box back until the outdoor temps hit nearly 100 F. We both wanted to see what would happen to box temperatures under extreme conditions. So we picked a really bad window to ship within on purpose. We actually had a cold front roll in that we waited out to get back to "normal" Texas summer temps. This was intended to be a representation of worst case shipping conditions.
  • We shipped ground instead of air. It was still "overnight" because the trip was only about 160 miles. I'm not sure how much of a difference that would make in the warehouse handling. I know that in talking to some breeders that ship, they have specific FedEx contracts that call for housing their boxes in climate controlled locations. But, if a mistake is made (and it happens), then these are an example of extreme summer conditions we're up against.
  • We did not label as live animals or ask for special handling. Again, just looking for worst case conditions.
  • We decided against hold for pickup at the facility just to see what the temps on the truck and on the porch after delivery were like. This is something else you should not do, but we wanted to see what temperature conditions on the delivery vehicle were like. Surprisingly in this case they were better than facility temps.
  • This was a cheap double walled box with no insulation, no panels, no cool packs. I just wanted to record what unassisted box temps were like.

We've got some insulated boxes we'll test out next.

I can say from personal experience that if you are not extremely careful following shipment status and hounding FedEx about where your box is stored during delays, problems come up. For instance when I picked up my Lorenzo's they missed their connecting flight and were delayed by 12 hours. They arrived in Austin at 18:30, and were forced to overnight at the airport (missed the last truck to the destination facility). I was not permitted to go to the airport to pick them up, but we were able to get the box pulled from the cargo container and stored in a climate controlled room. It could have been a lot worse without both the shipper and myself working the phones. We did ship under ideal temperature conditions, nothing even remotely close to this.
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby RichardA » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:56 am

Very cool project.

I am eager to see what the final insulated cool packed box shows.

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby Boondoggle » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:30 pm

I ran this same experiment a number of years ago to try and get a handle on how to properly use phase change panels. I haven't looked at the data for a long time, but I remember a couple of things were surprising. I was surprised at how long the "tarmac time" (what I called the time between leaving the climate controlled world hub office and getting into the plane) could often be. According to the data there were times when the package seemed to be sitting outside in the elements for 45 min or more. Also after reviewing the data I came to the conclusion that FedEx jets can get much colder inside than they claim.

Most of my experiments were done under extremely cold conditions, it will be interesting to see what your data shows. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby BcsTx » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:16 pm

joneill809 wrote:Thanks Beth! I agree Phil - personally I would not ship animals under these conditions. Nate and I were looking to take advantage of the extreme temps to see how different box types perform. This was a first test with a crummy box and no insulation and it was intended to record what temperatures would be under bad conditions.

  • We intentionally held the box back until the outdoor temps hit nearly 100 F. We both wanted to see what would happen to box temperatures under extreme conditions. So we picked a really bad window to ship within on purpose. We actually had a cold front roll in that we waited out to get back to "normal" Texas summer temps. This was intended to be a representation of worst case shipping conditions.
  • We shipped ground instead of air. It was still "overnight" because the trip was only about 160 miles. I'm not sure how much of a difference that would make in the warehouse handling. I know that in talking to some breeders that ship, they have specific FedEx contracts that call for housing their boxes in climate controlled locations. But, if a mistake is made (and it happens), then these are an example of extreme summer conditions we're up against.
  • We did not label as live animals or ask for special handling. Again, just looking for worst case conditions.
  • We decided against hold for pickup at the facility just to see what the temps on the truck and on the porch after delivery were like. This is something else you should not do, but we wanted to see what temperature conditions on the delivery vehicle were like. Surprisingly in this case they were better than facility temps.
  • This was a cheap double walled box with no insulation, no panels, no cool packs. I just wanted to record what unassisted box temps were like.

We've got some insulated boxes we'll test out next.

I can say from personal experience that if you are not extremely careful following shipment status and hounding FedEx about where your box is stored during delays, problems come up. For instance when I picked up my Lorenzo's they missed their connecting flight and were delayed by 12 hours. They arrived in Austin at 18:30, and were forced to overnight at the airport (missed the last truck to the destination facility). I was not permitted to go to the airport to pick them up, but we were able to get the box pulled from the cargo container and stored in a climate controlled room. It could have been a lot worse without both the shipper and myself working the phones. We did ship under ideal temperature conditions, nothing even remotely close to this.


Awesome and needed experiment Jim and Nate!
The employees at FedEx hub know me my name, when shipping frogs I wait till close to loading the trucks time and they keep them inside and load them last, a few pics of the frogs on my cell phone works wonders.
Looking forward to the results!
-Beth

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:47 pm

Hey everyone! We completed the first insulated box test. I will let Nate post details on the box he sourced, but it's made of 1" thick "recycled material" walls in an 11" cube double-walled box. The recycled material is lined in a reflective plastic.
boxTest2-01-recycledMaterialBox.JPG

This first test placed the logger in the bottom of the box, surrounded by crushed paper with one cool pack inside the box. The test did not go as planned, as the box dropoff missed the last pickup in DFW. The box had to spend an extra day at the FedEx facility which led to a 24 hour delay. I'm not sure how much that altered the performance of the cool pack, but overall, the temps were quite high in this insulated box. Here's the plot for the trip from DFW to Austin:
boxTest_02-DFW-AUS.PNG
boxTest_02-DFW-AUS.PNG (30.59 KiB) Viewed 2628 times

The plot shows a steady rise in box temperatures while held in the FedEx facility from the low point of 62F to 83 at the time of pickup. Temperatures peak at the FedEx facilities in the high 80's, dropping to 82 as the outdoor temperatures drop. If this were a "hold for pickup" temps would have remained at 82. Temperatures peaked on the truck for delivery at 92, at the time of dropoff, closely following outdoor temperatures. Overall, not great. Temperatures were relatively mild for this time of year in Texas, and the box temps closely followed outdoor temps. I suspect this would have been much worse had we experienced the 100F temps we're seeing just one week later.

Our next test will use much larger ice packs (delivery has already happened and we think the data will be interesting - the ice packs were still frozen at time of delivery!). Nate will hang onto the loggers this week. The good news for the test is we're cookin' again here in Texas at 100F. More data next week when the loggers are back! Until then, I'll have another post with pictures illustrating the second insulated box test with ice packs.
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:07 pm

I decided to do a picture log of the second insulated box test. Since we both don't have a ton of money to throw at this, we decided to try and double up test conditions. I had a small foam cooler that would fit inside the recycled material insulated box so I put that inside the original box with a logger inside that, and a second logger outside the cooler but inside the recycled material. I also included 3(!) ice packs. This test was gonna make it through the heat! Here are the pictures of the process:
boxTest2-01-recycledMaterialBox.JPG
You've seen this picture before. Here's the insulated box made of recycled materials.

boxTest2-02-1inchRecycledWall.JPG
A close up of the outer wall of the box. It's approximately 1" thick.

boxTest2-03-1inchRecycledWall.JPG
Another view with a ruler for reference.

boxTest2-04-foamCooler.JPG
The smaller foam cooler (6"x8"x6") inside the recycled materials box.

boxTest2-05-foamCooler.JPG
Close up of the wall measurements of the foam cooler.

boxTest2-06-loggerLocations.JPG
Logger locations. The outer logger is in the upper left hand corner of the image. The inner logger is the black unit inside the cooler.

boxTest2-07-paperPacking.JPG
The cooler was packed with crushed paper.

boxTest2-08-innerCoolpack.JPG
A small cool pack was added to the cooler.

boxTest2-09-foamCoolerSealed.JPG
Sealed cooler.

boxTest2-10-crushedPaperIcePacks.JPG
Outer box was packed with crushed paper and two larger ice packs were added to the top of the cooler.

boxTest2-11-sealed recycledMaterialBox.JPG
Recycled material liner sealed.

boxTest2-12-sealedBox.JPG
The box is sealed!

I'll add a complete timeline for boxing and shipping when the loggers are back, likely next week. We'll have two temperature time series from this experiment, along with the outside temperature data. Should be interesting!
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:44 pm

Finally getting back to this project. If you recall, Nate and I were experimenting with two coolers in one shipment, with two separate data loggers in the box. We had a 1" recycled material outer cooler, and a 1" Styrofoam inner cooler. The logger locations are circled in red:
boxTest-03-loggerLocations_2821.JPG

A small ice pack was placed inside the Styrofoam cooler:
boxTest-03-innerIcePack_2855.JPG

Two larger ice packs were included inside the recycled material cooler:
boxTest-03-outerIcePack_2857.JPG

The package was sealed and shipped out FedEx ground on July 22 from Austin to Fort Worth. Here's the plot tracking the inner and outer cooler temperatures over time, with FedEx tracking locations along the way, and city temperatures (from weather.com) in the background. Comments along with the rate of temperature change are along the right side of the plot (you'll need to click on it for a full scale view):
boxTest_03-AUS-DFW.PNG
boxTest_03-AUS-DFW.PNG (44.72 KiB) Viewed 2574 times

Interesting notes:
  • We again saw the temperatures drop while the box was on the truck for delivery. The truck is actually cooler than the sort facilities. I'm not suggesting that you leave your frogs on a truck all day, but it does imply that FedEx trucks seem to be cooler than we would expect.
  • These tests are using standard shipping methods, so perhaps the overnight temperatures will not be as high when handled as live animals and held in climate controlled areas of the sort facility.
  • The sort facilities show a higher rate of temperature increase than the rate increase captured while the cooler was sitting on the front porch outdoors in the heat. :( Granted our box was pre-cooled pretty well, but this sort facility was where we recorded our highest in-box temperatures prior to delivery.
  • Under these extreme heat conditions, roughly 100F highs, a 1" insulated shipping box may not provide sufficient heat protection. Temperatures in the outer cooler spiked to 83F overnight. The inner Styrofoam cooler peaked at 75F, so a double insulated container may be sufficient for shipping in extreme temperature conditions.
  • I'd probably skip the inner cool pack next time - this caused temperatures to drop to the high 50's immediately after sealing the box.
  • Don't leave your box of frogs on the front porch for 7 hours ;)

Nate ran a bunch of other experiments with the coolers under various test conditions. More to come...if I can ever carve out time to plow through the csv's!
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby IEatBugs » Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:29 pm

Great stuff, keep it coming I am enjoying the info.
Dustin Y.

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:16 am

This was the return trip from Fort Worth. Temperatures ranged from the mid 80's to ~100F on this trip but we had lower overnight lows due to rain in the region. The box temperatures tracked city temperatures fairly well overnight with the outer logger only showing a 5 to 7F drop over outdoor temperatures. The inner cooler was generally 15F cooler than the outer box.
boxTest_04-DFW-AUS.PNG
boxTest_04-DFW-AUS.PNG (45.48 KiB) Viewed 2531 times

The temperatures on the truck again saw a drop while out for delivery. This is the third time on three trips that we saw this. The Styrofoam cooler was again packed with the smaller ice pack which kept these temperatures in the low 60's for most of the trip. This trip appears to confirm that a single 1" insulated box will lower temperatures by 5 to 10F, but greater temperature deltas of 20 to 30 degrees are sustained with the double cooler approach in extreme conditions.

We still have data from some location experiments that Nate ran, and there's likely a graphic in here that should focus on the cooling delta between ambient and the loggers.
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby Boondoggle » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:31 am

Sorry if this was already answered and I missed it.

Will you be doing any testing with phase change gel, or is the data being collated with regard insulation options primarily?

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:52 am

We didn't have much of a plan when this started other than to test out this recycled materials box. Nate sourced these boxes locally and mentioned he was curious about measuring their performance, so I said I'd ship him my data logger. After the first round, we saw the recycled materials box did not perform as well as we would have thought, so I sent the box back with two loggers and a second inner cooler. I tossed in what I have (the ice packs) and that's where we ended up.

Nate also conducted experiments with the loggers while they were in Fort Worth. He placed the recycled materials box in a variety of locations (inside a cooler, outside mid-day, etc) to see how quickly it gained/lost heat. I have not plotted that data yet - this is the remaining data we have left. Comparing the performance of ice packs versus Phase 22 would be interesting - I just don't have any at the moment. Perhaps in a future round ... :mrgreen:
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby IDPM » Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:36 pm

Let me know if you guys want to play with the 22's. I can drop some off to Nate.
brad

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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:46 pm

Sounds good Brad. I'll order replacement batteries for the loggers and PM you and Nate.
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
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Re: Logging in-box shipping temperatures

Postby joneill809 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:57 pm

I had an interesting exchange with Barbara Stewart from Herpetologic on FedEx shipping policies. She read this thread and provided more information to me via email on her experiences with shipping via FedEx. She gave me her permission to share her thoughts with DD, so thanks Barbara! We appreciate your contribution!

Excerpts from the exchange (I'm providing complete extensive because of how thorough the responses were and I found them extremely valuable as written):

Barbara wrote:Your shipping test was sobering and I have to add that FedEx will not handle any shipment labeled as "live animals" differently than the service for which it is scheduled. When we went through the process of becoming an "authorized live-animal shipper," we were required to sign a contract. The terms indemnify FedEx from any responsibility and makes it abundantly clear that they will not identify nor handle a live-animal shipment in any other manner except that guaranteed by the service parameters. Basically, FedEx discloses that it will do whatever is expedient and convenient for them. They also will not replace any animal lost even should it be caused by a "service failure." It is totally the risk of the shipper. We lost $600 in May when the other shipment delayed the same day as yours, was trucked by tractor-trailer. I spent the entire day on the phone with FedEx between my assigned tracker, corporate and account agent asking them to hold the shipments for the next plane and under no circumstances, put the shipments on a truck for transport. They did exactly that with the other shipment and the animals baked. That's the reason I drive the shipments to the FedEx plane at BWI in the evening and insist on customers picking them up at FedEx-staffed facilities. I try to control whatever variable available to me and always err of the side of caution.

So my comment that maybe live animals will be handled differently by FedEx does not apply. Very good to know. My Lorenzo shipment this spring was delayed by a day, but we were able to have the box stored in a climate controlled area due in large part to Barbara's tenacity with FedEx. There was another shipment that went out the same day that was not held at a facility after missing a plane; it was diverted to a truck overnight. This raises an excellent point - we need to pack animals understanding they may be diverted by other means of transport, including long overnights in a truck if a flight is missed.

Jim wrote:Good to know on the FedEx policy. Do you mind if I add that info to the thread? We have another test planned where we wont use cool packs in the inner cooler then we are trying phase 22's on the return. If you and Sean have any feedback on the types of experiments let me know.


Barbara wrote:Absolutely, feel free to use the information. It will help protect the well-being of animals. The most critical temperature to consider is the one at whichever of the three FedEx hubs the shipments will spend the overnight (Newark, Memphis or Indianapolis International). That is the longest stretch they will be anywhere. Tarmacs do hold the heat well into the night which is why we don't ship when the high temperature is over 95. Thirty minutes left on a tarmac that is still 90 is a threat and the cargo facilities are not heated or air-conditioned. Cargo areas in delivery trucks are not either. On a 75 degree day, the cargo areas in delivery trucks can reach over 100 degrees. No cooler/Phase 22 can maintain temperature inside for an extended period. We only use nested (double) coolers when shipping airport-to-airport. It provides an extra layer of protection especially when heat is used in-between the coolers. That dead space is the best insulation. Most customers are unwilling to use them routinely because it increases the shipping cost substantially when shipping FedEx. It does not increase cost when using Southwest or United.

We are not testing FedEx overnight / air shipments, but we did record similar observations where package handling overnight at FedEx sort facilities recorded the highest per hour temperature increases. Based on Barbara's experience and our tests, double coolers, though expensive, seem to afford the best protection against temperature change that we can provide during transit.

I really do appreciate Barbara's willingness to share her shipping experiences and contribute to the hobby. Nate and I will keep you posted on the next set of experiments.
Jim from Austin please contact me if you are willing to trade offspring from:
lorenzo - schwinn line|NAIB true sips|fantastica nominant
http://www.oneillscrossing.com/dart-frogs/


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