The freight shipping method that is focused on the transportation of products and foods with temperature controlled trailers is called refrigerated trucking. Well, refrigerated transportation is essential and crucial for the food supply chain, and as such it requires a great deal of care.
Nowadays, there are over 35 million container loads of refrigerated products being shipped on a yearly basis all over the world.
Thereupon, refrigerated transportation is performed by a specially designed trailer that has a built-in refrigeration system. This refrigeration system is built in the trailer with the aim to keep all products and loads in their pre-shipped condition. These days refrigerated transportation is considered to be the most common type of temperature controlled transportation.
Hence, reefer truck drivers these days are facing the biggest issue, which is maintaining the proper temperature in order for the shipment to arrive at the final destination in a good condition and on time during these summer days.
Nevertheless, by seeing the basics of reefer transportation we can notice that it is the safest means of food transportation and at the same time is remarkably easy and inexpensive in comparison to a few years ago!
So, let’s take a look at what I have prepared for you in this article!
The Role of Refrigerated Transportation
Nowadays refrigerated transportation represents a critical element of the cold chain logistics. Most compelling evidence about the importance of refrigerated transportation is the fact that food and consumable commodities cannot be transported with a conventional truck for 50 miles without any spoilage.
Refrigerated Transportation Fact: It is expected that the refrigerated transportation by 2020 will increase by $14 billion.
By all means, refrigerated transportation significantly improved after the World War II when the technology for cold chain logistics was dramatically improved. Straight proportionally the refrigerated transportation back then experienced rigorous standards and regulations.
It is important to realize that even these days it is almost impossible to create a 100% risk-free reefer trailers.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.1: Outside Temperature
One of the very first challenges that people engaged in the refrigerated transportation are facing is the outside temperature. That is mainly due to the fact that when the outside temperature increases, straight proportionally it is leading the reefer trailer to be affected by the interior temperature.
As the sun rays are falling upon the metal of the trailer, it can cause a dramatic effect on the interior temperature, but only if the trailer itself is not properly calibrated to handle hotter temperatures. But if the temperature rises the product can become straight away inedible.
Thereupon, as I said previously only if the trailer is not properly calibrated to handle hotter temperature only then it will lead to spoilage. Yet, this problem can be mitigated, but that is not the only option.
Provided that you can see the importance of reliable monitoring systems in the refrigerated transportation.
After all, if your reefer trailer is not running properly, then the summer sun can spell disaster for your business!
So with that in mind, always perform pre-trip inspections and constantly monitor the temperature in the trailer.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.2: Respiratory Temperature Changes
We can see that in the refrigerated transportation everything is inter-connected since the maintenance of the proper trailer temperature is imperative to the respiratory temperature changes of the goods that are being transported.
Moreover, the respiratory process is naturally increasing the heat, it can increase the heat to that level that it can warm up the reefer truck. So, that is why it is really important that reefer truck drivers bear in mind that some types of food do have a higher respiration rate than other types of food.
In spite of that, reefer truck drivers, as well as trucking company’s owners shall pay a special attention to heat which is caused by respiration. Different rates of respiration must be taken into account especially when a reefer truck is transporting different types of food and perishable goods. It is well known that at a lower temperature the respiration rates can be reduced.
Last, but not least, the easiest way that you can keep track of what is going on inside of the reefer all the time is by installing a designed monitoring system. That will definitely keep the food safe.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.3: Infiltrative Heat
Part of the summer issues that refrigerated transportation is also facing with is the infiltrative heat. The infiltrative heat includes the flow of cold air that can easily be replaced with hot air, and all that can happen due to broken seals in the structure of the reefer trailer.
Therefore, full inspection of the trailer is of a great importance before any loading takes place. The full inspection should include the trailer, seals, doors, and temperature gauges. Heat can easily make its way during the loading and unloading process. That is why the loading and unloading should be performed quickly.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.4: Only Load pre-cooled products
If you want to stay away from troubles and at the same time to stay compliant with all the rules and regulations you will have to check whether the loads that you are loading are pre-cooled. Let me be more specific why you should load only pre-cooled products, first of all, reefer trucks are designed to keep the perishable food and products at the loading temperature.
With this in mind, you should always check the internal temperature of the products before you load it into the reefer. For example, if you load some product which is hot at the time of collection, then it will end up to the final destination hot as well.
Another key point is that the reefer truck cannot correct any discrepancy in the loaded cargo temperature.
Henceforth, refrigerated transportation technology has improved dramatically in the last few decades, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still some prevalent issues.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.5: Maintain A Proper Airflow
The function of the refrigerated transportation is to maintain an accurate temperature of the load. Thereupon, you will have to remove the heat from all sources. Straight after that, you should know that the airflow can be restricted if the load is placed too high.
In addition, the cool air must be in contact with the load so that the heat can be removed. Also, the proper loading procedure plays a big role in airflow maintenance. Hence, the pallets must be loaded so that the skids can allow air flow.
Thus the product/ the perishable good shall be placed away from the trailer walls in order to allow airflow around all sides; air space must be allowed between the ceiling and the load, as well as between the front bulkhead and the cargo.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.6: Residual Heat
Reefer truck drivers on a daily basis are facing different types of challenges. So that reefer truck drivers can protect and ensure food safety they must take some measures in regards to the temperature controls.
Thereupon, it is the best that the reefer trailer is pre-cooled. This is a crucial part of the refrigerated transportation process because this way the residual heat will be removed from the reefer trailer.
On the other hand, if you try and load the trailer while it is warm with refrigerated products it will lead you to improper distribution.
Later on, during the summer days, the radiant heat of the sun is transferred into the trailer- that is the main reason why reefer trailers should be pre-cooled.
Moreover, the pre-cooling process shall take a minimum of one hour prior to loading.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.7: Data Entry Errors
The refrigerated transportation challenge no.7 includes the data entry errors that can happen to reefer truck drivers. Luckily, these days there are state of art electronic monitoring systems that can help truck drivers easily eliminate the entry errors.
Here are part of the benefits that your trucking company will experience if you decide to implement monitoring systems in your reefer trucks:
You will reduce the risk of product damage due to non-compliant temperature;
As well, you will have a peace of mind because you can track your shipments from anywhere and anytime;
Data entry errors will be decreased;
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.8: High Humidity
Part of safeguarding the perishable loads while performing the refrigerated transportation plays the prevention of high humidity. Since humidity levels are usually high within the refrigerated trailer, the condensation is accumulating on the walls, cargo, as well as on the ceiling.
If condensation forms inside the reefer trailer it can lead to freezing or liquid form. Well besides the increased heat in the reefer trailer, the ice crystals and the moisture can also lead to the potential to cause food items to become inedible.
Later on, in order for reefer truck drivers to prevent the high humidity in their reefer truck trailers, they should pay attention to the doors, which should be open for a short period of time. Yet, the high humidity can be controlled by constant monitoring of the interior humidity levels.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.9: Complying With Regulations
Well, without refrigerated trucks our food wouldn’t get to the final destination on time and in an edible condition. Thereupon, without reefer trucks, it would be impossible to maintain the temperature when transporting sensitive goods.
Be that as it may, all trucking companies that are specializing in refrigerated transportation should work in compliance with the mandate which is to maintain the temperature when transporting temperature sensitive goods. In fact, transportation companies are impacted on a daily basis by the implementation of FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Each reefer truck driver should be well trained on temperature management as well as on reporting requirement and temperature records for all loads. Mainly the rules and regulations that do imply refrigerated transportation are issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Yet, one of the established requirements for trucking companies that are performing refrigerated transportation by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is the sanitary practice.
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.10: Equipment Malfunction
Having equipment malfunction during the refrigerated transportation means big issues. In order to prevent such situations, reefer truck drivers should perform a detailed pre-trip inspection.
Nevertheless, if any heating problems do come up during the transportation period they can’t be avoided easily unless they are being noticed by the monitoring system at the very beginning.
Moreover, each reefer trailer should be designed from a material that is really suitable and adequately cleanable.
Here are few tips how you can prevent equipment malfunction, and at the same time to perform safe and on-time refrigerated transportation:
The reefer trailer altogether with the transportation equipment should be maintained in an exceptional sanitary condition;
Also, the reefer trailer should be maintained at the adequate temperature control in order to prevent impair;
On the other hand, we can see that there are several other reasons for equipment malfunction during the refrigerated transportation. Thereupon, the malfunction can happen due to:
Running out of fuel;
Refrigerated Transportation Challenge No.11: Immediate Proof of Delivery
In addition, if any type of equipment malfunction happens during the refrigerated transportation the transporter is the one that is often the first one blamed. Every here and now the reefer truck driver might find himself in the situation where he needs to prove the conditions in which he has been transporting the cargo.
By the same token, each transportation company and reefer truck drivers should stay in compliance with all documentation and auditing.
Thereupon, in order for the reefer truck driver to reduce the claims easily and quickly, he should provide a proof of in-transit temperature. If he can do it as quick as possible he will increase the chances of not being blamed and staying compliant.
When speaking about compliance, I must not forget to mention that the rules that FMCSA and OSHA have issued do imply to refrigerated transportation as well.
Proper Management in Refrigerated Transportation Can Lead To Ensuring Product Integrity
In the foreground, the role of the management in the refrigerated transportation plays a big role. In order for a trucking company which is specialized in refrigerated transportation to perform impeccable transportation process it should have a holistic approach and to fully integrate technology.
Moreover, by adopting and implementing the new technologies, not only that you will improve the management in the refrigerated transportation, but as well you will provide a peace of mind to your clients.
All in all, refrigerated transportation as a form of climate-controlled transportation is serving numerous industries. Yet, the food industry is the most common requester for refrigerated transportation because climate-controlled vehicles/ trailers are the only solution for the food items to get to the final destination safe and edible.
The trucking industry in the USA these days can notice that there are more and more trucking companies specializing in refrigerated transportation.