Eric Bierman, President of Cool Transport Jax, is one of the most experienced cold chain experts in the business. Since arriving in the USA over 50 years ago, he’s been passionate about service excellence and providing a top-quality experience for his customers.
Eric has been involved in Puerto Rico trade since 1971. His commitment to hiring top experts, focusing on the details, and constantly innovating to improve his trans-loading and food delivery 3PL business are just a few of the reasons Trailer Bridge has chosen to partner with Cool Transport Jax as we expand into reefer service between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico.
Eric’s generosity in sharing that knowledge and experience is another reason he’s such a respected figure in the industry. We had a chance to catch up with Eric recently and asked him to share some of the cold chain insight with our readers. Enjoy this Q&A.
What are the benefits of choosing a single-source cold transport provider?
Single-source providers offer the simplicity of booking the cargo without having to deal with multiple services. It helps to keep everything under one roof because the less you’re handing cargo off between disconnected transportation solutions, the better, especially in the cold chain.
The relationships behind the scenes and cooperation are key to the success of every shipment. Who we each choose to work with is important! Our reputation matters to us and so we’re only choosing to partner with companies that share our values. Our top priority is making cold cargo transport as seamless as possible for the customer. In partnering with Trailer Bridge, we know cold cargo is being inspected, monitored, and kept at temperature from door-to-door and everywhere in between.
What’s the difference between shipping methods for cold chain cargo?
Barges have a bit longer transit time, but the cost savings can be substantial. Air cargo can be prohibitively expensive but may be the only option for items with a short shelf life such as strawberries, for example. When you ship to Puerto Rico by container ship, the transit time is about two days under ideal conditions, and a barge will take about five days.
This makes reefer transport by barge ideal for hardier food-grade commodities such as frozen meat, apples, onions, potatoes, pears, etc. Cool Transport Jax and Trailer Bridge’s close relationship can also help reduce costs by protecting these commodities that won’t spoil until they can be combined with other shipments, to maximize the space on the barge.
What are the greatest risks in the Caribbean cold supply chain?
We’re serving a relatively warm area of the world where not keeping cargo at temperature could be disastrous. The people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands really count on us to protect the integrity of those goods, to make sure their grocery store shelves remain stocked, and their businesses keep running.
It’s important to us that in addition to preventing as much loss as possible, any issues that do come up can be pinpointed and remedied quickly. This is why inspection and monitoring are so critical. If there was a breakage or spoilage issue in the first 100 miles and the client doesn’t know until they start opening boxes a week later, that’s unacceptable.
How can mainland USA suppliers connect with refrigerated sea transportation to Puerto Rico?
When customers are using Trailer Bridge reefer barges to ship to Puerto Rico, for example, they have 2 options:
- Within a 1,000-mile radius, cargo can be picked up at the supplier’s facility and then shuttled to the port for loading.
- The exporter can bring it to the Cool Transport Jax cold storage docking facility and then it is put on a TB reefer.
How do you prevent food spoilage or medicine breakage during transit?
We keep tabs on the cargo at every stage of the delivery. Our company employs top quality inspectors who offer a high-touch service. Inspection reports go out constantly, and they are recording everything from damaged boxes to the current temperatures of the cargo.
Our partner, Trailer Bridge, has invested thousands of dollars into satellite links to constantly monitor reefer units. At the terminal, reefers can plug in so there’s no spoilage if they have to wait for the sailing.
Our facility at Cool Transportation Jax is built to reduce cold supply chain interruptions. We have a 44-door facility with no staging area, so we aren’t having trucks line up for hours and hours waiting to unload. In fact, we guarantee to get them in and out within two hours. Cargo is backed directly into cold storage and inspectors check the cargo for integrity, quality, and temperature.
Further, we are inspected and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and approved by food and pharmaceutical industry quality compliance inspectors from Matrix Sciences. Security, sanitization, and operating under the strictest of food safety guidelines are our top priorities.