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Find answers to common freight questions.

What is a Reefer Trailer?

Reefer” is a slang term for a refrigerated trailer pulled by your standard semi-tractor (truck). The reefer really is just the trailer, making a “reefer truck” a semi-truck pulling a refrigerated trailer, usually hauling food, medicine or other perishable goods. These trailers differ from dry vans, which are just insulated and vented.

Reefer trailers are an essential part of the food supply chain and are the primary method used in transporting fruits, vegetables, frozen foods, meats, flowers, medical supplies and more. Reefers are made from either aluminum or stainless steel, have insulated walls to help maintain temperature control, and allow perishable goods to transport over long distances without spoiling.

What is a reefer semi trailer

How a Reefer Trailer Differs from a Dry Van

Reefers and dry van trailers may seem similar, but they actually differ greatly. The primary difference between reefers and dry vans is insulation. Reefers are heavily insulated, to protect their contents from warm outside temperatures. Whereas, a dry van doesn’t have a refrigeration system. Another difference is in the flooring. Dry vans typically have flat wood or metal flooring while reefers have metal floors which sometimes can include grooved floors. These grooved floors allow for ventilation of perishable goods, helping to maintain consistent temperatures thanks to added airflow.

Reefers are specifically for refrigerated freight, while dry vans primarily carry dry goods.

Reefer Temperatures

Reefers maintain climates from -85° to 50° degrees Fahrenheit. And while sub-zero temps work well for meats, temperatures should remain between 32-55 degrees Fahrenheit for produce. Reefers come with many safety features, such as extra insulation and improved airflow.

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How Does a Reefer Trailer Work?

A small engine within the unit drives the compressor. Compressors draw in gas refrigerant, compresses, and liquifies the gas. The refrigerant then goes to the condenser. Condensers receive the liquid and send it through the walls of the tubing. The liquid then goes to the outside fans, and out to the cool air. The liquid has become cool at this point. It goes inside the evaporator and turns back into gas. All a similar process to how a radiator cools an engine.

What is a Reefer semi-trailer

Preparing Your Reefer Trailer Shipment

When it comes to shipping produce, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, figure out the best temperature. There are different temperature requirements for different products. Second, you’ll want to pack your produce carefully so it arrives with as little damage as possible.

Make sure your products are at the proper temperature prior to packaging them. Always try to avoid overcrowding the packaging, and make sure to use efficient packaging materials for all meats and produce. Finally, make sure to label your shipment clearly and include any special instructions needed for handling the produce. These help ensure that your crop arrives fresh and ready for your local market. Need help finding someone to handle shipping your produce? We can handle that. FreightCenter is always happy to assist.

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Reefers Help in Avoiding Medical Mishaps

There aren’t a lot, but there are medicines that are deemed to be hazardous. A reefer trailer is excellent for medical supplies that need to kept cool. Supplies that need to remain cool can include:

  • Blood products
  • Vaccines
  • Organs
  • Medicine

Reefer trailers help to ensure that these supplies remain at the correct temperature during transport. Temp control is crucially vital to these kinds of shipments. In addition, reefers can provide an oxygen-rich environment for them.

Reefer trailers are a much-needed part of the supply chain for medical supplies. While there are many of these shipments made on a regular basis, they tend to stay at a small size. LTL shipments are perfect for medical supplies. Without reefers and LTL, many lifesaving treatments would not be possible.

Reefer Basics for Shippers

There are some things that you should keep in mind for reefer trailer shipping. For the safe transport of food items, shippers should refer to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Communication is another thing to always keep in mind. You want to make sure to clearly communicate the details and requirements of your freight. FreightCenter is happy to assist you with these communications. Lastly, you should always make sure to work with a carrier that has plenty of experience and fully understands the complexity reefer trailers.

Finding Your Reefer

Partnering with a 3PL is the best way to find the best carrier and lowest rate for your reefer trailer. 3PLs assists in finding the best rates, best carriers, and track your shipment. FreightCenter is one of your best 3PL options and can assist you online or over the phone.

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Questions on Your Shipment?

Are you having trouble sending your package or have shipping questions? Let FreightCenter help! We are experts when it comes to shipping products both nationally and internationally. Our freight agents can ease you into the process. To ensure it’s a smooth ride for both you and your shipment. Use FreightCenter’s free online quote tool to begin. For other locations, call our international shipping experts at 800.716.7608.

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