What is refrigerated trucking?

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Refrigerated trucking definition.

Refrigerated trucking, (also referred to as “reefer”) is a freight shipping method that specializes in the transportation of foods and products that require a temperature-controlled means of transport. The trailer that is hauling the food and other products has a built-in refrigeration system to keep any and all products in their pre-shipped state.


Benefits of refrigerated trucking.

Refrigerated trucking is a solid option for shippers who need to safely ship temperature-controlled freight. A few of the benefits of refrigerated trucking include:

  • Supply and demand: Fresh products will always remain in high demand. Refrigerated trucking allows trailers to safely haul and transport these products all across the country.
  • Wide variety: Refrigerated trucking can be used for many products in addition to foods that require temperature control. Plants, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products are some of the other commonly transported goods that rely on refrigerated trucking. 
  • Protection: The protection of the products and materials is considered the greatest asset of refrigerated trucking. Due to the nature and sensitivity of the products being transported, the trailer itself is better equipped to protect against spoilage, damage (from temperature changes), and varying weather conditions. 


Refrigerated trucking best practices.

  • Identify shipping needs: Not all items are equal as far as temperature stability requirements are concerned. Distinguish perishable items from those that are not. Examples of perishable items (include, but are not limited to): pharmaceuticals, seafood, dairy, plants, meat, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Load quickly: Since the freight being shipped is temperature sensitive, always have the shipment prepared to be loaded so the product is not damaged or ruined. Although time is of the essence, it’s important to remember to load and secure the shipment properly.
  • Monitor the shipment: While the shipment is in transit, the driver is responsible for the well-being of the freight. Refrigerated trailers come equipped with a monitor for the cooling system and allow the driver to easily assure the quality and/or safety of the products being shipped.
  • Unloading procedures: Much like the loading process, unloading has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Reefer units are often run during the loading and unloading process, but doing so depends on the shipper or consignee’s rules and preferences.


Common refrigerated trucking questions.

  • Does refrigerated trucking allow for LTL shipping? Absolutely. LTL shipping is actually a very common practice within refrigerated trucking as temperature-controlled LTL services are covered throughout most of North America.
  • Is it ok to use reefer trailers to ship goods that don’t need to be temperature controlled? Yes, reefer trailers work just fine for transporting goods that don’t require cooling temperatures, and it is actually a very common practice. 
  • Do temperature-controlled goods have to be packaged differently? Due to the temperature requirements and delicate state of the goods, proper packaging is very important. If you’re ever unsure about packaging requirements, refer back to the shipping guidelines for complete instructions.
  • Can frozen items be shipped through refrigerated trucking? Yes. Gel coolants and dry ice are often used to support shipping extra sensitive temperature-controlled goods. 


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