In The Spotlight: Introduction to Temperature Controlled Shipping

Do you need to start looking into temperature-controlled shipping or curious about cold shipping in general? Let’s dive in…

It seems like an apt time of year to talk about chilly temperatures and its relevance to distributors who need the temperature of their goods to stay spot on. The most notable of these are in the food, medicine and science sectors – industries that need to move a lot of organic material and often within tight time scales to prevent spoilage.

Today there are huge cold chain infrastructures in place. The world’s largest couriers can control freight temperature and time-in-transit across road, air and sea. They are complex services that serve to meet industry-specific compliances, risk-control, heightened security and appropriate packaging.

Here are some of the top providers you will recognise in the UK:

Here are some of the top providers you will recognise in the UK:



UPS have various cold chain solutions to meet different business requirements. These services include Temperature True, PharmaPort, Proactive Response and PolarSpeed Thermologistics.

polarspeed logo png transparent

At Shipster we integrate with UPS PolarSpeed ThermoLogistics, which is designed for the transportation of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. Their fleet of 150+ temperature controlled vehicles deliver to home patients, hospitals, pharmacies and wholesalers.

Integrating with PolarSpeed means our clients can directly use a guaranteed temperature controlled service across the UK without the typical old clunky CSV interface.   - MD Tony Cheetham


DHL logo png

As another monster-sized courier, there are multiple branches of DHL temperature controlled shipping. For road, DHL Freight Coldchain offers temperature controlled transportation for life sciences and healthcare products. The service includes enhanced visibility and security, transport of dangerous goods, scheduled departures, less-than-truck-load consolidation and full-truck-loads.

For international cold shipping, DHL offer DHL Air Thermonet and DHL Ocean Thermonet.


igloo logo transparent png

Igloo Thermo-Logistics is a specialised chilled and frozen food courier for small companies and big corporates. They take care of multi-temperature food delivery throughout the week, next-day and same-day. Igloo’s same-day capability also means they can also assist in delivering food goods to promotional events.


temperature controlled courier delivery


Other Considerations

Storage and Packaging

To preserve the quality and shelf life of cold products, some cold chain logistics suppliers provide storage. A good example is Lineage, who store the customer’s product in temperature-controlled environments and have expertise in blast freezing.

Cold packaging solutions are a whole other subject. Here are 10 types of cold packaging:

Ice Packs
Gel Ice Packs
Ice Sheets
Sheep Wool Insulation
Bubble Insulation
Reflection/deflection of thermal energy with foil laminate lining
Polystyrene Boxes
Foam Insulated Boxes
Insulated Cool Bags
Pallet Covers

Advice needs to be taken on a product-by-product basis as each packing method has it’s own time limitations and target temperature.

The cold couriers themselves use specialised vehicles with temperature control, insulation, advanced security and GPS tracking.


Documentation & Automation

There’s an immense number of standards to be lived up to in both the food and medical sectors and this doesn’t end at shipping. It’s particularly important to keep detailed and accurate records and watertight paperwork to avoid mistakes or delays, especially at customs.

Automation can ensure the production of accurate and relevant documentation more efficiently than by hand. Having advanced warehouse management software setup too means temperature-sensitive products can be paired with the correct documentation and moved quickly to the appropriate mode of transport.

lorry making cold delivery

Final Thoughts

The world’s largest couriers such as the likes of UPS and DHL have the greatest choice of cold chain solutions are perhaps are amongst the most tried and tested with the largest networks. Smaller cold couriers are more likely to be restricted by region but can offer more specialist solutions such as storage and one-off deliveries for events.

There is a plethora of packing opportunities to choose from and finding the perfect fit could take some time and require some testing by mailing samples to different locations. Similarly, additional documentation and compliances must be checked on a product-by-product basis and the requirements of any connected warehousing or shipping software to put everything together accurately and efficiently.


Disclaimer: This article is intended to introduce the concept of cold shipping and show that numerous providers are available to you in the UK – these are not recommendations and we have not worked with all of the suppliers mentioned. Please do your own careful research when selecting a courier and we can help you at the software integration stage.