What New Truck Drivers Need To Know About Refrigerated Trailers:
Demand for refrigerated drivers is usually high, and drivers generally get paid better than for dry van.
A variation on the dry van , with a few differences. Basically a box trailer with a refrigeration unit installed on it. Can carry either dry goods or temperature-sensitive.
Used to transport temperature-sensitive or perishable goods, such as produce and meat. Normally delivering to grocery warehouses.
A large percentage of refrigerated loads will be OTR , hauling from the West Coast to the East Coast. And back again.
Recent FMCSA regulation changes may require drivers to have a tanker endorsement to transport liquids, depending on quantity.
About Pulling Refrigerated Trailers (Reefers):
Running dedicated refrigerated routes will generally not get drivers much home time. A lot of reefer companies will try to get drivers out to the West Coast as often as possible. Many loads will be coming from produce-rich California, and travel to the East Coast, keeping drivers out on the road longer.
Refrigerated freight also tends to have more multiple-stop loads. It could be several different pickups, or deliveries, or both. Drivers will usually get paid more for the extra pickups or stops, but it will generally take longer to get loaded and rolling..
Refrigeration systems are mounted on the front of the box trailers and are usually diesel-powered, though a shift toward battery-powered electric or hybrid systems is ongoing.
Pulling reefers will require drivers to constantly monitor the refrigeration unit for proper operation and correct temperatures. In the event of a mechanical failure of the refrigeration unit, quick action will be required of the driver to prevent spoilage.
Drivers, especially those working for smaller companies, may have to help unload their trailer. Larger companies tend to have contracts with "lumper services" Lumpers are professional freight handlers working for a third-party at the warehouses. They will do the unloading, and get paid on productivity. Typically, drivers will pay the lumpers, and be reimbursed by their company., eliminating the need for driver handling.
Wait times to get unloaded at grocery warehouses are notoriously long, and waits of 6-12 hours are not uncommon.
How Do Refrigerated Trailers Work?
Reefers are not designed to actually cool the product inside, but to maintain it while controlling humidity.
In some cases, especially during winter, reefer trailers will actually be used to prevent product from freezing during transport by setting the temperature higher than 32°, but still cool.
Refrigerated trailers are built with insulated walls made of steel, plastic, or some other non-porous material, and sealed very well to prevent heat from entering them, and keep the cool air inside where it belongs.
Historically, reefer units have been diesel-powered. Increasingly, emissions standards (especially in California) and rising fuel costs have led a push toward battery, electric, and hybrid refrigeration units.
The more modern, advanced, models are equipped with alarms that will notify the driver of current or future problems. They may also be equipped with tracking systems that automatically track times and temperatures for auditing purposes.
Changes To FMCSA Regulations Re-defining Tank Vehicles:
Recent changes in FMCSA regulations mean that drivers pulling liquid freight over 1,000 gallons, regardless of trailer type, hazardous or otherwise, will be required to have a tanker endorsement:
"Tank vehicle means any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis." Hauling more than 1,000 gallons of liquid, regardless of trailer type, will require a driver to have a tanker endorsement.