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What is a Reefer Semi Trailer

What is Freight?

Learn about reefer semi trailers and how to find a reefer with a 3PL like FreightCenter.

What is a Reefer Trailer

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

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

How Does a Reefer Trailer Work?

A small engine within the unit drives the compressor. Compressors draw in gas refrigerant, compress, and liquefy 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—similar to how a radiator cools an engine.

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How a Reefer Trailer Differs from a Dry Van

Reefers and dry van trailers may seem similar, but they differ significantly. The primary difference between reefers and dry vans is insulation. Reefers are heavily insulated to protect their contents from warm outside temperatures. In contrast, 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 the 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 Semi Trailer Temperatures

Reefers maintain climates from -85° to 50° Fahrenheit. While sub-zero temperatures work well for meat, temperatures should remain between 32 ° and 55 ° Fahrenheit for produce. Reefers have many safety features, such as extra insulation and improved airflow.


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Preparing Your Reefer Trailer Shipment

When shipping produce, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, figure out the best temperature. Different products have different temperature requirements. 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 before packaging them. Always avoid overcrowding the packaging and use efficient materials for all meats and produce. Finally, label your shipment clearly and include special instructions for handling the produce. These help ensure 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.

Reefers Help in Avoiding Medical Mishaps

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

  • Blood products
  • Vaccines
  • Organs
  • Medicine

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

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

Finding Your Reefer

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

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 nationally and internationally. Our freight agents can ease you into the process to ensure 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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Rail shipping is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly transportation method that utilizes trains to move goods over long distances. It's known for its efficiency in handling large volumes of cargo, making it a sustainable and economical choice for businesses seeking reliable freight transport options.

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Expedited shipping is a premium service designed to meet urgent delivery needs. It prioritizes speed and quick turnaround, ensuring that packages or goods reach their destination faster than standard shipping options. Expedited shipping is the go-to choice when time-sensitive deliveries are essential, providing businesses and individuals with reliable and prompt service for critical shipments.

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White glove shipping is a premium service that goes beyond standard delivery, offering meticulous handling, specialized packaging, and in-home setup or installation for valuable or delicate items, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free experience for customers.

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Less than truckload (LTL) shipping is a smart logistics solution for businesses with smaller shipments. It combines multiple smaller shipments into a single truckload, optimizing space and reducing costs. LTL shipping offers affordability and efficiency while ensuring timely delivery, making it an ideal choice for companies looking to save on transportation expenses without compromising on service quality.

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Reefer Semi Trailers FAQs

Q. What is a reefer semi-trailer?

A. A reefer semi-trailer, short for “refrigerated trailer,” is a type of truck trailer designed to transport perishable goods that need to be kept at specific temperatures. These trailers are equipped with refrigeration units to maintain controlled environments, ensuring that products like food, pharmaceuticals, and other temperature-sensitive items remain fresh during transit.

Q. How does a reefer semi-trailer work?

A. A reefer semi trailer works by using a built-in refrigeration unit that can cool or freeze the trailer’s interior. The unit is typically powered by a separate diesel engine or connected to the truck’s power source. The temperature inside the trailer can be set and maintained to suit the specific needs of the cargo, whether it’s keeping fresh produce cool or frozen goods below zero.

Q. What types of goods are transported using reefer semi-trailers?

A. Reefer semi-trailers are used to transport a wide range of temperature-sensitive goods, including fresh produce and dairy products, frozen foods and ice cream, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, flowers and plants, meat and seafood, and beverages that require temperature control.

Q. How do you maintain the temperature in a reefer semi trailer?

A. Maintaining the temperature in a reefer semi trailer involves several steps. The trailer should be pre-cooled to the required temperature before loading. Goods should be loaded in a way that allows air to circulate freely around them, and the temperature should be regularly monitored and adjusted as needed. Regular maintenance of the refrigeration unit is crucial to ensure it operates efficiently, including checking refrigerant levels, cleaning filters, and inspecting the overall system for any issues.

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