Tips for Temperature Sensitive Loads


Refrigerated carriers have the option of running their refrigeration units in two modes, “continuous” and “start/stop.” There has been a big increase in losses from the use of the “start/stop” mode by carriers wanting to conserve fuel costs. The only sure way to keep temperature-sensitive loads at the optimum temperature is to have the refrigeration unit set on “continuous.” Summer, with its warmer weather, is a time when a greater amount of seasonal-type products are hauled. Without a doubt, these perishable products require more attention. Carriers need to routinely monitor their reefer unit’s operation to ensure that the cargo is maintained at the required temperature. Shippers, brokers, and receivers are now recognizing and requesting that their product be hauled with a continuous cool setting to more evenly and continuously maintain the product’s temperature. Although running the unit on continuous will cost you a few more dollars in fuel each trip, it may help to prevent rejections and off-temperature insurance claims. This, in turn, will prevent deductible payouts and higher insurance costs. Here are some additional “best practices” for refrigerated freight haulers:

  • If hauling perishable items such as fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, or items ending in berry (for example, strawberry) that can decay in transit, make sure the refrigeration unit is set on continuous. It is a little known fact that ripening produce generates heat and therefore has a need for continuous airflow.
  • Avoid multi-temp loads unless using trailers designed for this type of operation.
  • Properly train drivers on the use of the refrigeration unit. They need to know when “continuous run” or “start/stop” mode should be used based on the commodity being hauled and the outside temperature.
  • Be aware of trailers over five years old and the product being hauled (for example, ice cream). The insulation in refrigeration trailers (known as “R” value) will break down over time, making them less effective. Newer, well maintained refrigeration units are also key.
  • Proper packaging is a must. Packaging should be crush proof, solid-side for frozen products, and vented-side for fresh products.
  • Cargo should be pre-cooled to desired temperature to remove heat.
  • Pre-cool the trailer to the desired temperature to remove residual heat.
  • Turn the refrigeration unit “OFF” while loading to minimize heat and humidity entering the trailer.
  • Ensure there is proper airflow in the trailer. This includes: using double faced block pallets for good airflow, providing adequate air space between the cargo and the ceiling; keeping the trailer clean and removing obstructions, and making sure that the evaporator air inlet (return air) is not blocked.[1]

[1] “Temperature Sensitive Loads,” Inside Coverage, Great West Casualty Company, Spring 2012

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