Refrigerated trailers have the ability to control a certain cold or hot temperature inside the cargo area.
That is why, this type of semi-trailers are widely used to transport freight that require temperature-controlled environments such as frozen foods, meat, plants, pharmaceuticals ,etc..
Find out below how to load a trailer to maintain the necessary temperature in the cargo area.
Things to consider before loading a reefer
To be more efficient before loading a reefer, there are few things to consider.
1. Understand the needs of your freight
When hauling perishable goods, this type of freight needs to be loaded or unloaded fast.
While loading, make sure that the palleted freight has enough space between them to ensure the airflow in between.
You should also know the minimum and maximum temperatures for the specific hauled freight to ensure that it always stays within an acceptable temperature range.
2. Ensure a proper airflow inside the cargo area
It’s important to make airflow accommodations before you start packing.
This may involve adding an air chute or a T-rail to the floor that helps to control the airflow under flat cargo. For flat truck floors, cargo should be packed on pallets so that the air can easily move beneath.
3. Cool the truck before loading
Perishable cargo needs to stay at a consistent temperature throughout the shipping process.
That's why it's important to cool the trailer before bringing it for loading. In that way, the trailer walls won't transfer unnecessary unregulated temperatures that can affect the quality of the freight.
4. Know how many palletized freight fit in a 53' reefer trailer
The most common length for reefer trailers is the 53 feet trailer because it fits the most amount of freight.
A 53 feet trailer fits 26 pallets of 42"x48".
Make sure to know the exact trailer width of the trailer as it may vary.
Steps to successfully load a refrigerated
Once you arrived to the shipper, to load the reefer quickly follow the below steps to ensure a consistent temperature inside the cargo area and a successful delivery
1. Load quickly
If before loading, the cargo is taken out of the fridge, load it quickly and efficiently. Otherwise, some spots of the cargo may heat up. And if this residual heat is taken inside the trailer, it can affect the freight.
2. Keep proper distance between the palletized freight inside the trailer
To maintain the airflow inside the refrigerated trailer, while loading, maintain a good distance between the cargo and the walls and the ceiling for the truck.
Here are the general guidelines:
- Keep at least 1 to 2 inches of free space between the freight and trailer sidewalls.
- Keep at least 9 inches of free space between the freight and the ceiling of the trailer.
- Keep at least 4 inches of free space between the freight and back end of trailer (rear doors).
- Check that the evaporator outlet is not blocked
3. Turn off the refrigeration option while loading or unloading
If you pre-cooled the truck before loading and you plan to load efficiently and fast then you can turn off the refrigeration unit while loading and unloading. This prevents the unit’s fan from sucking warm air into the truck and may improve fuel efficiency.
4. Follow the guidelines set by the shipper or the customer
Some shippers may provide their own requirements for the refrigerated cargo. The shipper should tell you about these requirements before or during the loading process.
If the shipper didn't provide any list of requirements for the load, ask the shipper if there are any that you, as the driver, should know.
5. Clean the reefer trailer prior to loading
Check if the shipper has specific guidelines for cleaning the trailer.
Some shippers may specify cleaning the methods, list approved chemical substances, or have requirements for cleaning frequency.
When cleaning, consider the following:
- Does the truck need a basic cleaning, or does it need to be sanitized?
- Are you preparing for an inspection? If so, know regulations that may affect cleaning standards.
- If you’re carrying food, additional cleaning may be required.
- Check that all debris–like nails, wood, or trash–are removed after each shipment.
- Clean drains to ensure proper drainage.
- Properly sanitize boxes that may be carrying odor-absorbing cargo.
For more information about loading cargo into a 53 feet reefer trail, please watch this video.