Cold Chain Logistics, Life Science Shipping, People Culture

Ice Cream Shipping Exercise with Dry Ice

July 3, 2023
Ice Cream Shipping Exercise with Dry Ice

Shipping with Dry-Ice: Arrival before Dissipation and Experiencing Client Challenges First-Hand  

At Mercury new hires gain valuable insights into the nuances of Cold Chain logistics through a unique challenge: shipping ice cream with dry ice.

Written By: Debbie Jung

Has your company ever assigned you a challenge that simulates the same situation your future clients would experience, physically putting you in their position? Understanding your client's pain points means empathizing with their challenges and knowing to create solutions for them.

At Mercury, we believe in equipping our team members with firsthand experiences. All our employees, from a logistics guide to a senior VP level, have gone through the same challenge: Shipping with dry ice! 

The Challenge: Shipping a Pint of Ice Cream on Dry Ice

All new hires are tasked to ship a pint of ice cream on dry ice to our desired destination. This challenge has little to no direction as we ask our employees to be as creative as possible. While some employees may be well-versed in shipping packages, others may not.  

Ice cream shipped on dry iceIce cream shipped on dry ice from Boston, MA to Westborough, MA

Navigating the Lack of Direction and Being Creative

I vividly remember my first attempt at this challenge. I rode to the middle of nowhere in Boston, Massachusetts, to collect dry ice. Big trucks and gravel surrounded me when I was dropped off. That was when I realized I needed to do more research before taking action. Every step required careful consideration, from determining the appropriate amount of dry ice to selecting temperature-controlled packaging and ensuring accurate labeling. To say it was a headache would be an understatement.

The Final Destination: Coordinating, Tracking, and Troubleshooting the Temperature-Sensitive Package

The destination for the ice cream shipment can be anywhere in the world. The new hire is responsible for coordinating, tracking, and troubleshooting the temperature-sensitive package. No matter where it's going, you must have the proper labeling, packaging, and service level to ensure successful, timely, and temperature-perfect delivery. Discovering that not all postal services ship dry ice was a part of my learning. I chose the easier route to ship domestically via FedEx to my friend.  

Customs Complications and Lessons Learned

Some of our team members took on the additional challenge of shipping internationally. Duc Tran, one of our logistics guides, decided to send his pint of ice cream to his family in Vietnam. International dry ice shipping presented additional complications for him. Initially, Duc encountered difficulties sourcing the necessary cold chain supplies for the shipment. While he originally planned to utilize FedEx for both the Styrofoam cooler and dry ice, this approach didn't work out as intended. 

After extensive research, Duc managed to get assistance from his coworkers in acquiring 10 lbs of dry ice for his shipment and in borrowing an 8L box from our Mercury office.  He also got a dry ice label and opted for a dry ice special service when creating the shipping label. After sending his shipment out, he had to monitor the shipment's progress personally.  

Ice cream shipping exercise at Mercury Business ServicesDuc's pint of ice cream shipped on dry ice from Boston, MA to Vietnam.

Unfortunately, Duc's package was held up at Vietnamese customs due to non-compliance with regulations and an improper selection of Incoterms. Despite learning valuable lessons from this experience, such as the importance of prepaying additional duties and taxes, Duc's family eventually received the package, even though the ice cream had melted and the dry ice had dissipated. 

The Purpose: Understanding Customer Pain Points and Fostering Unity

"Why?" is a common question we receive when sharing this challenge with outsiders. Why do we put our employees through this? Why subject them to the complexities of shipping? The answer is twofold: to understand our client's pain points and foster unity among our team members. By having every single Mercury employee tackle this challenge, we create a shared experience that fuels our collective passion and commitment to simplifying health and life science shipping for our clients.  

"I learned a lot about international shipments and got familiar with my daily tasks early on from this experience." - Duc 

The shared challenge among our employees provides the "why" behind our daily tasks and serves as a catalyst for our client obsession and exceptional service. It unifies us and ignites our drive to excel in health and life science shipping. 

Apply to join our world-class teamwork environment by checking out our careers page.

We are a Fast-Growing Logistics Company

View current job openings.

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