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Refrigerated Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

Truck driver adjusting the settings on his trailer for his Refrigerated shipping

What Is Refrigerated Trucking?

Refrigerated trucking is a specialized freight shipping method that transports goods in temperature controlled environments. These trailers, also referred to as a reefer trailer, utilize a built-in refrigeration system to preserve products that would be otherwise damaged during transit. Refrigerated trailers can maintain a set temperature to ensure cargo remains frozen or chilled no matter the outside conditions. Refrigerated trailers are most often used for shipping produce and other perishable items, especially in warmer climates whereby a standard trailer would not be able to maintain the pre-shipped quality of goods.

How Do Refrigerated Trucking Cooling Units Work?

The refrigerated trucking cooling unit operates in a closed system. The unit works by continuously removing heat and channeling it through a cooling process to maintain a set temperature. Here are the components used for the cooling process:

  1. Compressor: The trailer has a small engine that drives the compressor, which draws in gaseous refrigerant and compresses it. The compressed gas then liquefies and releases the heat into the compressor and the air.

  2. Condenser: The liquid from the compressor then passes to the condenser, where heat exchange begins. The warmth from the liquid then moves through the tubing walls into the fins, which consist of a larger surface area for effective cooling.

  3. Evaporator: This component is inside the trailer and receives the cool liquid from the condenser through a metering valve. It evaporates the liquid while absorbing heat from the finned coils. Then, air moves to the compressor, and the process begins once again.

What are the Benefits of Refrigerated Shipping?

The refrigerated trucking business plays a critical role in distribution centers, grocery chains, and food processing facilities that handle thousands of pounds of cargo daily. Generally, the industry handles, loads, unloads, and stores goods that require refrigeration. It's imperative to avoid damage and spoilage, especially when shipping such cargo hundreds of miles away. Here are the key benefits of refrigerated trucking:

High Demand and Supply

With the consistent need for fresh products, refrigerated trucking has become one of the most effective shipping methods. This makes reefer trailers in high demand even during economic downturns. Therefore, refrigerated trucking remains one of the most safe, efficient and convenient methods for transporting perishable goods across the country.

Accommodates a Wide Variety of Products

Refrigerated trucking can be used to ship a wide range of products besides foods that require temperature control. Personal care products, live plants, and pharmaceuticals are some goods commonly transported shipped on refrigerated trucks.

Utmost Protection

Refrigerated trucking is considered the ideal shipping method for protecting products and materials in transit. Reefer trailers have more features for protection than standard trailers due to the nature and sensitivity of goods being transported. Refrigerated trailers are able to protect sensitive goods against damage, spoilage, and changing weather conditions.

Refrigerated Trucking Best Practices for Drivers

  1. Identify shipping needs: Based on temperature stability requirements, some products do not require freezing temperatures during shipping. Hence, distinguish perishable cargo from other goods before loading.

  2. Load quickly: Freight shipped in temperature-controlled trailers is temperature-sensitive. Loading such products quickly helps prevent damage or spoilage, although it is essential to ensure you secure the shipment currently.

  3. Monitor the shipment closely: While in transit, monitor the shipment through monitoring systems to ensure the quality and safety of the products. Temperatures may rise during transit, resulting in damage or spoilage. Monitoring the shipment prevents such scenarios while ensuring the cargo is secure.

  4. Follow unloading procedures: Similar to loading, unloading should be done quickly and efficiently to prevent damage to the cargo. Although most reefer units are left to run during loading and unloading, some shippers or consignee preferences and rules do not allow to keep the unit running. Be mindful if the system has to be turned off for loading and unloading.

Bottom Line: Refrigerated trucking is important for the trucking industry because of the trailer's ability to protect perishable goods from being damaged or spoiled during transit. Although other options exist for transporting perishable goods, reefer trailers are considered the most effective. They are versatile, flexible, convenient, secure, and efficient. For additional information, talk to an expert at Veltri Logistics to learn more today!

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