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On the Road

Hauling refrigerated goods in the winter: Can it be too cold?

David Sickels is the Senior Editor of Fleet Equipment. He has a history of working in the media, marketing and automotive industries in both print and online.

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Just a few degrees can make a big difference in terms of quality at the end of a delivery, but can the cold outside affect the cargo inside the reefer unit?

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Here is a transcript of the video:

For optimal food quality and safety, the temperature control of your perishable products is always important regardless of whether it’s hot or cold outside.

But can the cold outside affect the cargo in the unit? Well, yes, but not really.

It certainly could affect your goods, but today’s CPU-controlled reefer units and thermally efficient insulation are typically going to make it so those exterior ambient temperatures don’t have much impact on the goods you’re hauling. The trouble is, the units are only as foolproof as the process of checking them. Basic checks of the refrigerated unit, and knowledge of the correct temperatures for what you’re transporting, can alleviate the possibility of cargo being hauled at the wrong temperature.

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The key is to make sure that this is on the driver’s radar, because if it goes unchecked, that load might be ruined before it even arrives.

Each type of cargo might have a different setpoint and mode for transportation, and this needs to be clearly communicated and tracked during transportation. If you keep cargo above or below the specific setpoint indicated by the shipper, the load could be damaged or rejected. Certain types of produce have high water content, like melons, pineapple, peaches… if these are stored below the recommended temperature, they can become soggy and water-logged when thawed.

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Technology can help you here.

You’ll want to invest in tools that have built-in temperature loss protection. This will ensure optimal temperature control and engine run time while minimizing potential for setpoint or mode errors by the operator. There are also trailer systems that replace the traditional hot gas circuit with efficient electric heaters for improved temperature control, consistent heating and defrost, regardless of ambient temperatures, even in northern climates and mountainous regions where significant cold temperature extremes are experienced.

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