Refrigerated trucking is the transportation of highly perishable goods in temperature-controlled carriers, which are also referred to as reefers. This product delivery system is constantly increasing in popularity. If you’re looking to get into this business, here’s what you need to know about refrigerated trucking:
Reefer Trailer Construction
The carriers of the trailers are usually constructed with metal and fiberglass. Their walls, ceilings, and floors are designed to not only provide heat insulation but also absorb odors.
The heavy construction is then fitted with refrigeration units, ensuring that the temperature required is maintained. A single carrier can be divided into several units. Each of these can be set to a different temperature. This facilitates the transportation of different types of goods at different temperature levels.
Goods Transported By Refrigerated trucks
Refrigerated trailers vary in load capacity–the big ones can take up to a maximum of 43,500 lbs. Here’s a list of some of the goods you can transport with your reefer:
- Honey bees
- Hazardous materials
Depending on demand, you may want to specialize in one line of products or be a Jack of all trades. In other words, if transporting flowers alone can keep you busy throughout and pay your bills, you can stick to that line. But if flowers alone can’t give you enough returns, you can carry any of these products whenever you’re called to.
How To Find Reefer Loads
You need to know where and how to find loads to transport. If you can’t find a shipper that keeps you fully occupied with deliveries, a good alternative is to work with several shippers. This is very possible through the use of online load boards.
Typically, shippers and brokers post on the platform about the type and volume of loads they need to be delivered to various destinations. By being a member of such load boards, you can easily find reefer loads.
Make sure to sign up with a reliable platform that regularly vets the shippers. You don’t want to work with fraudulent people who can swindle you. A good platform also enables you to competitively price your services in correspondence with the current market rates, enabling you to make good profits.
Food Safety Rules And Regulations
When transporting food in refrigerated trucks, it’s important to handle the shipment with care to avoid contamination.
Thoroughly clean the carriers before loading new products. Doing so prevents cross-contamination of the current freight by the previous ones. Take note that contamination can lead to food poisoning for the consumers. In the worst-case scenario, this can cause death, for which you can be sued.
In this sense, it’s also good if you work with truck loaders who are well trained in safe food handling. This way, you can rest assured that you’ll deliver uncontaminated food to your clients’ customers.
Seasons definitely impact the availability of loads to transport. Food and flower industries have high and low seasons. When its harvest time, fresh fruits and vegetables increase in the market. This means they need to be transported by certain dates or else they go bad.
As a reefer owner, you should take advantage of the produce season. Schedule your trips more regularly to make the most profits during these high seasons. Also, combine shipments from various clients to ensure your truck is filled to capacity. Just ensure that you don’t overload and break your country’s laws. You can be fined heavily, ruining your business’ financial standing.
When the low season comes, you can consider modifying your truck to also carry dry weight, which refers to loads that don’t require temperature control.
Record keeping is very necessary for the transport business. Without proper records, you can easily mix up shipments from different clients, then fail to know the exact ones to be delivered to a particular customer. Delivering the wrong products to customers is a sure way of triggering complaints and conflicts.
Additionally, proper records act as proof that you did what was required of you. For instance, if the goods in transit are supposed to maintain a certain temperature, you can use your records to prove to the client that you transported them at the required temperature. Should they go bad, then it can be attributed to other causes, and not poor temperature regulation.
Maintaining Cleaning Standards
As mentioned earlier, you should always ensure that your trucks are thoroughly cleaned before loading. Depending on what you’re transporting, you may need to take your cleaning procedure an extra mile.
Fruits and vegetables, for example, are likely to absorb odors. Assume you carried candles on one trip, followed by fruits and veggies on the next trip. If the candle scents linger in the carriers, the fruits and vegetables may absorb the strong smells, and end up tasting awful. So, on top of cleaning the carriers with water, you need to air them until the smells disappear.
Remember to avoid the use of corrosive chemicals since they can corrode metal surfaces and could harbor contaminants.
Preventing And Handling Breakdowns
Equipment can fail anytime. This means they should be closely and regularly monitored. Install alarms that alert you when there are system faults, such as penetration of outside air into the carriers.
On top of that, always schedule thorough check-ups before and after deliveries. Inspect your trucks for flaws in proper airflow, security seals, tire pressure, and wall damage. This ensures that your trips proceed with minimal interruptions.
It’s also important to travel with a professional reefer mechanic. Should any system break down, they can quickly correct the fault, allowing you to quickly get back on the road. This way, you’ll always be punctual with deliveries.
Your clients will most probably be interested in knowing the location of their cargo at any point in time. So, consider installing digital video recorders in your refrigerated truck. This way, they can receive live updates on your whereabouts via the internet. Such transparency portrays you as an honest entrepreneur, hence clients won’t find it hard to stay loyal to you.
You now have information that can help you to successfully run your refrigerated trucking business. With the right approach, this can be a highly profitable venture.
Jason is the Marketing Manager at a local advertising company in Australia. He moved to Australia 10 years back for his passion for advertising. Jason recently joined BFA as a volunteer writer and contributes by sharing his valuable experience and knowledge.