The Impact of High Temperatures on Freight

The Impact of High Temperatures on Freight

by Stephanie Hoon

As of the current state, high temperatures are increasingly prevalent around the world, with many regions experiencing record-breaking heat waves. These soaring temperatures have become a concerning trend attributed to climate change, impacting various countries and continents. In numerous parts of the globe, heat waves have led to scorching summers, prolonged droughts, and extreme weather events. The consequences of these high temperatures are far-reaching, affecting ecosystems, agriculture, human health, and energy consumption. In response to this alarming trend, there is a growing need for global cooperation and urgent measures to address climate change and mitigate the adverse effects of extreme heat on the environment and societies worldwide.

In logistics, freight transportation plays a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth flow of goods and commodities across regions and borders. However, as global temperatures continue to rise due to climate change, the freight industry faces new challenges in coping with the impact of extreme heat on cargo transportation. From perishable goods to sensitive electronics, the repercussions of high temperatures can be far-reaching, affecting not only product quality but also the safety of personnel and the environmental footprint of logistics operations.

High Temperatures

Temperature Matters: Maintaining Product Quality During Transport

High temperatures significantly threaten the quality of various freight goods, particularly perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, pharmaceuticals, and dairy products. These products are highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations and can quickly deteriorate when exposed to extreme heat. Maintaining a controlled and consistent temperature throughout the supply chain becomes a paramount challenge to ensure these products reach consumers in optimal condition.


Electronics, such as computers, smartphones, and various electronic components, are highly susceptible to heat damage. Elevated temperatures can lead to thermal stress, component failure, and shortened lifespan of these devices. In addition to electronics, certain chemicals, and hazardous materials have specific temperature thresholds that, if exceeded, can lead to dangerous reactions or leaks. Proper temperature-controlled storage and transportation are crucial to prevent significant losses and potential safety hazards.


The choice of packaging materials becomes crucial in mitigating the effects of high temperatures on freight. Plastic materials, commonly used for packaging, can warp, melt, or lose their structural integrity when exposed to extreme heat. This compromises the protection of goods, especially for delicate items such as glassware or electronics. Manufacturers and logistics companies must invest in heat-resistant packaging solutions to safeguard cargo during transportation.

To preserve product quality, logistics companies can adopt the following strategies:

1. Invest in temperature-controlled transportation and storage solutions, such as refrigerated trucks and warehouses, to safeguard perishable goods. 

2. Implement real-time monitoring systems to track and regulate cargo temperatures throughout the entire logistics process.

3. Collaborate closely with suppliers and producers to ensure that goods are appropriately packaged and labeled with temperature-sensitive indicators to monitor deviations from the required conditions.

Farmers Market

Heat Injury in Freight: Protecting the Workforce Amid Rising Temperatures

While the focus of discussions on high temperatures and freight often revolves around cargo, it is crucial not to overlook the safety of the workforce involved in logistics operations. Heat injury becomes a significant concern during hot weather, especially for workers involved in manual handling, loading and unloading, and driving freight vehicles. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can have severe consequences on workers’ well-being and productivity.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Heat exhaustion, the early stage of heat-related illness, manifests through symptoms like heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, and headache. If left unaddressed, it can escalate to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition characterized by a body temperature exceeding 104°F (40°C), leading to confusion, loss of consciousness, and potential organ damage. With heatstroke posing a grave risk to employees, preventing and managing heat injury is crucial for maintaining a safe and productive workforce.

To mitigate heat injury risks, logistics companies should implement adequate measures, including:

1. Providing proper training and awareness programs to employees about heat-related illnesses and preventive measures. 

2. Encouraging regular hydration and frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas during hot weather. 

3. Outfitting workers with appropriate personal protective equipment to shield them from the direct effects of extreme heat. 

4. Adjust work schedules to avoid peak heat hours, if possible.

Freight’s Contribution to Emissions Amid Soaring Temperatures

High temperatures can exacerbate energy consumption in freight transportation and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Cooling systems in refrigerated trucks and warehouses, as well as air conditioning in the drivers’ cabins, demand additional energy to maintain desired temperatures during extreme heat. This results in higher fuel consumption and contributes to the carbon footprint of logistics operations.

The consequences of heightened greenhouse gas emissions from freight transportation are particularly concerning, as they contribute to global climate change and exacerbate the very conditions leading to extreme temperatures. The transportation sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and the additional energy consumption during heatwaves further compounds its environmental impact.

To reduce energy consumption and emissions, logistics companies can adopt eco-friendly practices:

1. Invest in energy-efficient vehicles and technologies that optimize fuel usage and reduce emissions.

2. Optimize route planning and load consolidation to minimize unnecessary trips and empty runs, reducing energy consumption.

3. Explore alternative energy sources, such as electric or hybrid vehicles, to mitigate the environmental impact of logistics operations.

Carbon Footprint

Preparing for the Heat

The impact of high temperatures on freight is a multifaceted challenge that requires careful consideration and strategic measures to address effectively. From safeguarding workers’ health to preserving product quality and minimizing environmental impacts, logistics companies must take a proactive approach to combat the adverse effects of extreme heat. By investing in proper training, temperature-controlled solutions, real-time monitoring, and sustainable practices, the freight industry can navigate the challenges of rising temperatures while ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of goods in an ever-warming world.

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