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What is a Reefer Trailer

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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 either aluminum or stainless steel, have insulated walls to help maintain temperature control, and allow perishable goods to transport over long distances without spoiling.

How a Reefer Trailer Differs from a Dry Van

Reefers and dry van trailers may seem similar, but they actually 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° 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.

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.

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.


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 keep cool. Supplies that need to remain cool can include:

  • Blood products

  • Vaccines

  • Organs

  • Medicine

Temp control is crucially vital to these kinds of shipments. Reefer trailers help to ensure that these supplies remain at the correct temperature during transport. 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

You should keep some things 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 communicate the details and requirements of your freight clearly. FreightCenter is happy to assist you with these communications. Lastly, you should always work with a carrier with plenty of experience and who fully understands the complexity of 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 assist in finding the best rates and best carriers and tracking 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 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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