5 Ways Refrigerated Trucking Companies Can Keep Up w/ Industry Demands

Posted by Fernando Correa ● Apr 18, 2023 1:02:37 PM

Refrigerated transport is a vital component of global supply chains, and it’s valued at over $60 billion. It allows businesses to ship products at the right temperature while minimizing spoilage and keeping products fresher for longer.

Due to the temperature requirements and the perishability of refrigerated goods, trucking companies must ensure optimal freight efficiency and capacity to prevent spoilage. More importantly, they must provide a great customer experience throughout the load life cycle.



How Refrigerated Trucking Can Keep Up w/ Current Industry Demands

refrigerated trucking company

Delivering such a seamless refrigerated shipping experience requires refining your processes, embracing innovative solutions, and adapting your services to today’s ever-changing consumer needs. This post will cover five practical ways reefers can be more efficient and effective in fulfilling today’s demands.


1. Utilize Technology to Optimize Routes

Poor route optimization and planning increase operational costs and make meeting customers’ needs challenging. If you don’t map and plan your routes, you’ll likely spend 20% or more on fuel per reefer truck, experience delays, and reduce your capacity.

Note that route optimization helps to:

  • Improve resource utilization,
  • Reduce delivery times for perishable goods and supplies,
  • Increase the number of deliveries per reefer,
  • Improve driver’s productivity

Remember that effective planning doesn’t involve using typical consumer maps like Google Maps and Waze or manual route planning. You’ll need to invest in route optimization software to analyze routes, track logistics KPIs, and map routes based on your fleet capacity.

Examples of route planning solutions include Upper Route Planner, WorkWave Route Manager, and Route4Me. Pick a solution that provides toll management capabilities, as it can save you up to 10% on tolling costs.

With automated routing and mapping technology, you get better visibility into your routes while taking advantage of familiar geography and the least miles to ensure faster deliveries. Plus, you can improve scheduling for drop-offs and pick-ups with effective route planning.


2. Train Drivers on Best practices for Cargo Handling

Reefer drivers ensure refrigerated products stay cool throughout the freight journey. As such, they need to be familiar with the ins and outs of refrigeration and transportation.

According to the FDA rules, drivers need adequate training on potential food safety problems, basic sanitary transportation practices, and equipment maintenance. This includes stacking loads properly for optimal airflow and avoiding overloading trucks.

More importantly, they should be able to perform pre-trip, on-the-road, and post-trip freight inspections using a pulp temperature thermometer instead of the truck’s thermometer. Drivers also need to know the reefers' basic operations to troubleshoot simple road problems.

It’s up to employers to offer regular training to their drivers. You can develop in-house training programs or partner with a course provider. The training programs should cover temperature requirements, vehicle and equipment storage, food safety procedures, sanitation, equipment maintenance, and corrective actions.


3. Maintain a High Level of Customer Service

Good customer service is one of the essential pillars of a successful business. Given the nature of refrigerated cargo, keeping customers updated about their freight and delivering various services to guarantee fresh products is critical.

Exceptional customer service is not about offering the least freight rates but going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and seamless experiences. For example, you must provide multiple communication channels, including email, calls, support tickets, and chat. You also must:

  • Seek and implement customer feedback to improve your services
  • Personalize your services based on a customer’s product needs and temperature requirements
  • Delight customers by exceeding their service expectations
  • Have excellent service standards that set your shipping company apart
  • Emphasis on building and nurturing long-term customer relationships

More importantly, your customer support should be responsive -- aim to respond to emails and messages in under 24 hours. Be sure to provide precise quotes and reasonable freight times when engaging with new customers.

Offering a way for customers to track their shipments can also improve their experience, hence better loyalty and retention rates. If there are complaints, make sure to address them promptly and adequately to avoid negative reviews and reputational damage.


4. Reduce Cross-Docking and Freight-Swapping Times

Decreasing your dwell time during cross-docking and freight-swapping is vital for seamless supply chains. While some dwell is normal, you must have target thresholds to save time. You must identify choke points within your operations to ensure seamless cross-docking and swapping.

Here are essential factors to look at to reduce cross-docking and freight-swapping times.

  • Arrival times: When planning drop-offs and pick-ups, you must have a clear idea of your arrival times and those of other trucks. It will help save time and ensure convenience for drivers and customers.
  • Load complexity: Complex freight, such as mixed-pallet loads, can increase dwell times at hubs or facilities. In this case, there are two things you can do: schedule complex orders to arrive during off-hours to minimize delays. Or, group orders based on similar to avoid complicated sorting processes.
  • Check-in processes: Your check-in procedures are also quite important; if they’re complicated, time wastage is unavoidable. Complex check-ins result in long queues and are prone to errors. Shifting to paperless and automated processes can simplify your check-ins to reduce cross-docking times.

Streamlining and optimizing your operations offer significant benefits, allowing you to save time and ensure timely deliveries for refrigerated cargo. More importantly, it helps to improve your capacity and keeps your drivers motivated.


5. Maintain Your Vehicles and Equipment

Moving the cold chain reliability and seamlessly requires optimal vehicle and equipment maintenance. The performance and operation of refrigerated, dry vans rely on periodic maintenance and inspections of every feature and system.

For example, the refrigeration unit operates at temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower if they have coolers or specialized insulation. They also feature climate-control systems to ensure a constant temperature regardless of external conditions.

Since reefers are subject to temperature changes, inclement weather, and vibration, their performance and integrity will likely be affected, hence the need for scheduled maintenance. Here is what you need to do while paying attention to the FMSCA guidelines:

  • Pre-trip inspections: These include physical inspections and computer diagnostics. Inspecting for cracks and broken or loose connections that impact performance is advisable. You should also check the control panel on the refrigeration unit to ensure accurate readings and settings.
  • Service maintenance: Regular vehicle service involves inspecting and replacing the batteries if needed. Inspect the tires, engine, brake pads, suspension, oil levels, and coolant system to ensure everything is okay.
  • Fuel levels: Running out of fuel is a common problem among long-distance trucks. You must check your truck’s fuel level and the reefer unit’s diesel tank. If your unit features telematics, you can always be notified if you have insufficient fuel. Otherwise, inspect for fuel clogs and replace the fuel filters as needed for a seamless flow.
  • Refrigeration performance: Refrigeration units need periodic maintenance to check leaks and temperature performance, including intake and output air performance. You also need to check Refrigerant suction and discharge pressures.

Additionally, you need to clean your reefer to ensure proper sanitation, which is essential for safely transporting dairy, meat, and medical products. The FDA refers shippers to have written procedures for cleaning their vehicles and equipment.

Keeping your reefer in good condition will reduce the chances of mechanical problems while on the road. As such, you need to schedule periodic maintenance to inspect and maintain your truck and the refrigeration unit. Be sure to keep service records for future reference.



Improve Refrigerated Shipping Efficiency with Cargobot

Cargobot Freight Tracking Screen

Running a refrigerated shipping company offers many opportunities to grow a successful business. Given the industry is poised to grow, you can cement your reputation and authority with great customer service and exceptional experiences.

To that end, you need to invest in digital solutions to streamline and optimize your operations. Perishable food requires temperature-controlled environments, so technology gives you better visibility into your processes and enables forecasting for efficient operations.

Learn more about choosing the right partner for your PTL transport solutions in 2023 with our free guide.

You must also train your drivers, deliver excellent customer support, maintain your vehicles and equipment well, and avoid time wastage during cross-docking. Also, verify shipper and product requirements to ensure you have the capacity and capability to offer successful deliveries.

At Cargobot, we’re revolutionizing the freight industry by harnessing the power of technology to deliver impactful digital solutions. Whether you’re a shipper, freight forwarder, or carrier, you can explore our capabilities to drive real growth, reduce disruptions, and enhance your logistics capacity.

Contact us today to discover our digital freight solutions and how they can benefit your shipping business.


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Topics: Cargobot Pool