Ocean Container Temperature and Humidity Study

By: Pakarada Premtitikul
General Manager
InterDry (Thailand) Co., Ltd.

A study on a few typical shipments and the effect on Temperature and Relative Humidity.

Let’s have a look at three commonly used shipping routes and what this does to the temperature and humidity inside the shipping container.

We’ve chosen three routes, namely Japan – Netherlands, Japan – Memphis and Japan – Portland.

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Typical Conditions

A normal shipment consists of three distinct stages. The first stage includes the time from container filling until the container is loaded onto a ship. This includes road transportation and brief periods of storage. Daily cycles of temperature and humidity are common. For example, figure 2 includes temperature swings of 40° F [22°C] during the first stage of a shipment from Japan to The Netherlands.

The second stage is the actual time at sea or aboard a ship. This may or may not be the longest stage during the container’s journey. During this stage, daily cycles of temperature and humidity are usually very minor or completely non-existent. Temperature changes are gradual, often occurring over days rather than hours. Occasionally, a single temperature/ humidity cycle occurs as the ship makes stops along the route, however extreme conditions are rare. Figure 3 includes a slow temperature rise and fall as a winter route takes the ship near the equator and then north to The Netherlands.

The final stage begins when the container is removed from the ship and continues until the recorder is removed during the freight unloading process. This may include varying periods of time spent in customs, on trains, on trucks, and in storage. Daily temperature and humidity cycles are common and may be extreme.

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Typical summer shipment – Japan to the Netherlands

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Typical winter shipment – Japan to the Netherlands

 

Extreme Conditions:

Some of the most interesting recordings are the extreme conditions. The highest recorded temperature occurred on July 25, 2005 during a shipment from Japan to Memphis. The temperature reached 135° F [57° C] during the third stage of this shipment (figure 7).

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Hottest shipment 135°F (57°C) – Japan to Memphis (USA).

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Coldest shipment -21°F (-29° C) – Japan to Memphis (USA).

The lowest recorded temperature occurred on January 15, 2005 also along the Japan to Memphis route (figure 8). The temperature dropped to -21° F [-29° C], which is slightly beyond the recorder’s published temperature range.

The shipment with the highest relative humidity occurred during a trip from Japan to Portland. The relative humidity was recorded at 96% on August 5, 2005 while the container was on land. Figure 6 shows the detailed temperature and humidity profile. The most extreme humidity conditions are seen during periods of large daily temperature changes. In this example, as the temperature slowly drops from 88° F [31° C] to 67° F [19° C] over 9 days, the humidity increases to 88% before returning to 79%. However, starting on August 4 as the temperature dropped from 121° F [49° C] to 68° F [20° C] over a 16 hour period, the relative humidity rose from 32% to 96%. The corrugated boxes seem to absorb moisture fast enough to temper humidity during slow changes in temperature while at sea. However, rapid temperature changes seen on land seem to exceed the rate at which the corrugated boxes can absorb moisture.

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Highest relative humidity 96% – Japan to Portland (USA).

 

 Ocean Container Temperature and Humidity Study

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