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While most freight that truck drivers move is in a dry van or traditional intermodal container, there’s also freight that needs to move in a temperature-controlled environment. Commonly referred to as reefer freight, these refrigerated containers move items that need to stay at a certain temperature to not spoil. All of the refrigerated and frozen products that you may see in a store had to get there while still maintaining their freshness. This is where reefer loads come into play.

Intermodal reefer loads: the basics

Reefer loads are available in long-haul trucking as well as intermodal trucking. Because of the temperature requirements for this freight, there’s only a certain amount of time that refrigerated freight can stay out on the road. This makes intermodal freight transportation perfect for moving reefer loads as most moves are local, moving containers to and from the rail. Due to the nature of the move itself, hauling reefer loads will usually net a higher rate for the carrier.

While out on the road, the reefer unit will be powered by a diesel generator attached to the back of the container or the bottom of the chassis called a genset. It’s very important to make sure that there is enough fuel to keep the refrigeration system running. The good news is that the fuel gauge will say exactly how much fuel is left to run the refrigerated unit.

Hauling intermodal reefer freight

For a live intermodal reefer load, commonly known as a pickup, the driver will be getting a reefer container from the rail and bringing the unit to the shipper to get loaded. In order to prepare for the trip back to the rail, truck drivers should make sure that the refrigeration unit is fueled up and ready to go, the container has the correct temperature as specified for the particular reefer load, and that there are no alarms notifying of an issue.

For a live unload that originates from the rail, also known as a delivery, a truck driver will bring a loaded reefer container to the consignee to get unloaded. There’s no guarantee how much fuel is powering the genset when picking up the container so it’s essential to make note of what the gauge says. If there’s not enough fuel, the truck driver will need to add fuel so the unit doesn’t lose temperature before arriving at the consignee for the unloading process. Carriers will get reimbursed for the cost of fuel, as it can be added as an accessorial to the trip.

The DrayNow app has local intermodal loads available for owner operators, including reefer intermodal freight. If you’re interested in signing up for the app, get started with registration at the link below.

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