Importance of Reefer Trailer Temperature Monitoring
Today, there are not just tracking solutions for vehicles, but trailers too. Advancements in telematics technology have allowed the transportation companies to install the same tracking technology as they use in vehicles. It allows fleet managers to find the exact location and temperature status of the trailer.
Since refrigerated (reefer) trailers are an integral part of transportation services, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them. Improper temperature control is the main reason why perishable cargo gets spoiled in the supply chain.
Smart transportation agencies understand the value of reliable chain monitoring. They are also responsible for protecting the health of the public by maintaining their cargo at regulated temperatures.
To maintain an optimal temperature in refrigerated trailers, they are switching to a wireless temperature monitoring system. This monitoring and tracking solution offers complete control to guard refrigerated cargo. It assures properly delivered items to the customers.
Also, real-time temperature data allows fleet managers to take immediate action the moment cargo gets compromised. This maximizes efficiency and productivity while catering to the temperature-sensitive delivery requirements.
What are Reefer Trailers?
A reefer trailer is known as a refrigerated trailer equipped with refrigeration and insulation. It helps in the transportation of perishable items like ice-cream or flowers, thereby eliminating spoilage and damage in the loads.
Reefer trailers are usually 53-feet long and have insulated roofs, doors, floors, and walls and have a refrigerator mounted on the front. They are also available in different sizes. This makes them an excellent solution to the long and short term storage for transportation.
Refrigerated trucking companies that specialize in moving perishable goods use these trailers.
Additional Applications of Refrigerated Trailers include:
- Government food service operations
- Emergency response and disaster planning
- Medical and corrections facilities
History of Reefer Trailers and Trucks
Believe it or not, reefer trucks have been around with us for a long time. Before the 20th century and the invention of motor vehicles, temperature-controlled products were transported in limited quantities and for short distances only – using big chunks of ice.
Well, it has come a long way since then. In the 1920s, agencies in the USA used vehicles with cooled containers for the transportation of fish and meat for short distances.
In the year 1930s, commercial vehicles with mechanical cooling units built-in started to hit the roads. By 1939, Fred Jones invented the first portable air cooling unit.
How do Reefer Trailers Work?
A reefer trailer looks the same as a regular trailer, but they possess insulation on the front side of the trailer. Insulated walls are made using plastic, steel, or non-porous material.
It also has a translucent roof layer that is tear-resistant. The roof of the reefer trailer has the potential to reflect heat and UV waves, thereby maintaining a constant temperature.
Modern refrigerated trailers are equipped with alarms that alert the driver of the failures or set point issues.
Today, you will even find trailers equipped with tracking systems that track time and temperature automatically for auditing purposes.
Primary components of reefer trailers include:
A small engine within a reefer unit drives the compressor unit. Firstly, it draws in refrigeration and compresses it. The pressure inside condenses gas and liquid refrigerator release heat to the compressor body.
Condenser receives liquid from the compressor. At this point, heat gets exchanged within the condenser.
The heat from the liquid moves to the tubing walls and then outside to the attached fins. The fins offer more surface area to cool outside air drawn via condenser fan.
The evaporator is located inside the reefer trailer. The refrigerant that has released most of the heat to the condenser has turned it into a cool liquid. It is then released heat into the evaporator via a metering valve to control cooling.
In the evaporator, the refrigerant expands and becomes a gas. As it goes through the process, it absorbs plenty of heat from the surrounding finned coils. It allows heat from moving over fins to the refrigerant.
The trailer is cooled by releasing heat to the evaporator. The whole process continues to repeat until the desired temperature reaches.
Things You Need to Know about Reefer Temperature Ranges
As per Refrigerated Trailer Market Report published by Allied Market Research tells us that the international refrigerated trailer market has a $5.588 billion value in the year 2015. It is also expected to grow $7.658 billion by the year 2022.
Trucking and transportation companies need to ensure that reefer meets all the FDA standards including Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Moving perishable goods without proper cooling systems means loss of items and revenue.
Refrigerated trailers maintain temperatures between 55 to -20 degrees F. Also, some trailers consist of multiple temperature zones within them, thereby allowing you to move different kinds of cargo within the same reefer.
Here are the Reefer temperature ranges for different goods:
Produce is one of the most common freight transported on reefer trailers. Produce is what we consume. So, it’s likely that the temperate must stay consistent to ensure better food safety.
Product look is also a big factor when it comes to its purchase. Did you know 90% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously? Many studies show that it takes customers seven seconds to decide whether to buy the product or not.
It means good packaging of your product makes an excellent first impression on consumers. Maintaining FSMA standards for reefers along with proper documentation and vehicle cleanliness is also crucial.
- 32˚F – 36˚F: Greens, stone fruits, apples, cruciferous vegetables, berries, grapes
- 38˚F – 40˚F: Cranberries, avocadoes
- 40˚F – 45˚F: Green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes
- 45˚F – 50˚F: Watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus, bananas
2. Poultry, Dairy, Meat, and Fish
One of the biggest problems with the transportation of meat is bacteria growth. They must remain at 40 degrees F or lower.
Typically, meat products are frozen during transport and then later on defrosted for display. It prevents deadly microbes from becoming active.
Pharmaceuticals are also perishable goods that proper temperature control to ensure chemical stability.
Elevated or sub-zero temperatures can cause issues like separation of emulsified products or sedimentation. They also need to be shipped timely to ensure effectiveness.
Remember, reefer temperatures for pharmaceuticals differ hugely depending on the chemical compounds. Ask your pharmaceutical manufacturer for ideal temperature before shipment.
Common temperature categories for pharmaceuticals include:
- Refrigerated: 2˚C -8˚C
- Room temperature: 20˚C – 25˚C
- Cryogenic: below 0˚C to as low as -150˚C
4. Florals and Plants
Same as other products, plants and florals need be stabilized and stay cool, as excessive heat ruins them.
The best reefer temperature for plants is at 36 degrees F. Another essential factor to take into account is the humidity level.
Flowers and plants begin to lose humidity quickly when they are picked or cut. But luckily, reefer trailers have in-built humidity controls that can be used to control moisture levels.
Reefer containers are refrigerated containers. These enclosed units are used in freight forwarding.
They look the same as regular containers but have an in-built freezing system that controls the temperature of the cargo. Each container has its own refrigerated unit.
How do Reefer Containers Stay Cool?
Cooling a reefer container is accomplished via two methods:
- Cryogenic Cooling – Melts frozen carbon dioxide ice to keep the items cool
- Diesel-powered generators – These generators attach to the container pulled
Why Are Reefer Containers White?
You might have noticed reefer containers pained in white. Well, white shade reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it. That is why they are white.
What is Reefer Temperature Monitoring?
Reefer Temperature monitoring refers to maintaining proper temperature in refrigerated containers and trailers or reefers. Regulating and maintaining is essential for shippers for various reasons. It includes:
- Ensuring that customers get high-quality goods safely and on time
- Prevent unsafe temperature fluctuations for the shipment of perishable items
- Save money by reducing the total number of rejected deliveries
Temperature recorders for reefers record, or log what happens en route in real-time. You can even extract data if any problem or dispute arises.
Some software systems allow you to monitor trailer usage and offer alerts on the temperature when it increases or falls below a specific programmable temperature threshold.
How is Reefer Trailer Tracking Technology helping Trucking Companies and Cold-Chain Suppliers?
With the increasing demand for speedy shipment and deliveries, product distributors are finding the best solution to please their customers.
They are not just looking to deliver items fast but also keeping an eye on freight damage, product loading, and temperatures.
Did you know there are more than 500,000 refrigerated trailers in the United States alone? Each one of them costs more than $60,000.
A trailer temperature monitoring system offers an excellent solution for handling perishable goods. It not just ensures a long shelf life but also boosts profits.
Cold chain suppliers need to keep food and other perishable products at a consistent and safe temperature.
Federal rules allow shippers and drivers responsible for assuring the safety of products via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Due to the high degree of risk related to ingesting spoiled items, these rules are enforced strictly. Also, a perishable item transported for long-duration needs frequent monitoring and maintenance to ensure proper delivery.
Digitization of supply chain not just boost tracking of reefer container itself, but also offers better management and control on the cargo.
Wireless reefer trailer tracking technology plays a vital role in maintaining the proper temperature in trailers during the transport of temperature-sensitive and perishable items.
It includes fresh products, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, seafood, vegetables, dairy, meat, fruits, plants, etc. The main goal is to prevent the contamination of perishable goods during transportation.
Since reefers collect and pump heat, they can be used to cool and heat shipments.
Remember, as the temperature increases; the product spoilage rate increases. Without a temperature monitoring system, food items such as meat, fish, veggies, etc. spoil fast.
As per the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, approximately 10% of medical items such as vaccines and blood products are sensitive to temperature change.
1. Improve Public Health and Safety
As per the CDC, near about 48 million people get ill, and 3,000 die every year in America due to food-borne disorders.
Varying and improper temperature affects bacterial growth in food. It is the main cause of food-borne illnesses.
It is especially true for temperature-sensitive items such as meat, frozen products, etc. Cargo transportation is one of the primary methods of product transportation.
Container temperature tracking allows them to guard public health and safety by ensuring proper reefers monitoring.
2. Ensure Regulatory Compliance
When a receiver accepts the load, they are held responsible for its safety. If the carrier or shippers fail to maintain proper temperature throughout the transportation, a receiver can reject the items.
However, ultra-modern fleet technology like reefer sensors allows cold chain managers to complete their jobs with much ease and confidence. It also offers the digital record of temperature data during the journey.
This helps them adhere to cold-chain transport codes like U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other food safety rules by proving the reliability and safety of products delivered.
It ultimately helps transportation and delivery agencies to prevent hefty fines and rejected deliveries.
3. Reduce Cargo Waste
Did you know about one-third of food produced gets wasted or lost every year across the globe? Maintaining proper reefer temperatures lower the amount of wasted cargo and rejected loads.
Earlier, reefer temperature tracking was performed manually by the drivers to ensure the safety and freshness of the items.
However, the advancement in-vehicle monitoring and tracking solutions in transportation and the cold chain have resulted in increased efficiency.
Real-time remote monitoring, temperature alerts, and monitoring via wireless sensors remove the need for drivers to check temperature manually.
Lowering the number of stops, reducing wear and tear, and preventing wasteful engine idling pose an impact on the cost and fuel efficiency.
In fact, monitoring trucks and vehicles in real-time using temperature sensors allow carriers and shippers to reduce food waste.
4. Increased Business Productivity and Revenue
Trailers allow fleet managers to generate revenue. So, they make sure that they stay productive and in tip-top condition.
Not having this vital tool operating at its optimal efficiency means a significant impact on the agency’s bottom line.
Also, most of the perishable items have a limited shelf life besides temperature sensitivity. That is why the prevention of traffic delay regions and efficient routing are at a high priority.
Reefer temperature monitoring offers valuable reports that trucking companies and fleet managers can use to optimize reefer performance.
a) Boost driver performance
GPS tracking systems allow fleet managers to monitor different activities of the driver. Tracking driver performance will enable you to prevent:
- Unauthorized use
- Extended breaks
- Bad driving practices that increase fuel consumption
- Aggressive driving habits
- Route deviations
In fact, by incorporating GPS Tracker and Temperature monitoring device into overall fleet management systems allow carriers to lower the number of denied loads.
It prevents loss claims and delayed deliveries. All this leads to happy customers and high revenue.
b) Route Optimization
The use of GPS tracking technology offers real-time information like altering road conditions, weather patterns, etc. It allows effective route planning as drivers and dispatchers can see the best routes.
Reefer Trailer Air-Return Sensors
Reefer sensors offer real-time updates on the temperature for the whole length of trip, status, history reports, and location.
These sensors are linked to the trailer tracking devices, which offer you the ability to monitor trailer status.
Sensors alert the driver when the temperature in the reefer trailer goes above or below a specified temperature.
It allows fleet companies to maintain high-quality control over all the shipments and fleet. Plus, it also helps them adhere to all associated compliance.
They actively track and monitor the location and temperature of reefers, thereby lowering temperature-related spoilage. In fact, integrating sensors also allow speedy dispatches.
GPS tracking devices, when blended with fleet management software, allow drivers to pick the most optimized route while lowering fuel usage.
Another bonus point is that it provides the transportation agencies to recover lost or stolen reefer trailers quickly.
Remote-sensing units regularly record and transmit data such as
- Temperature and humidity
- Airflow in the trailer
- Refrigeration unit performance
- Other reefer status information such as low fuel level in the fuel tank of reefer
Fleet operations personnel can access all the data via smartphone, desktop, or tablet. Digital dashboards let them track and monitor trailers’ performance and act quickly when required.
GPS Sensors for reefers record and transmit location and operating status data at regular intervals- usually every five minutes.
Reefer sensors allow cold chain carriers to:
- Lower cargo waste
- Decrease food waste and rejected loads
- Guard consumers from deadly food-borne diseases
Benefits of Temperature Monitoring and GPS Tracking of Trailers
GPS trailer tracking is an invaluable tool in fleet management, and helps in guarding both the trailers and their contents.
It allows fleet managers to verify pickup/drops, check their exact locations, and much more. Here are the pros:
1. Provide More than Just Trailer Location Tracking
Fleet managers know there is more to managing than just finding the location of the reefer trailer.
They need to know:
a) Work Status
- Has the driver dropped off or picked up a load?
- How many stops does the trailer stop on a given day?
b) Operational Health
- Are there any maintenance problems that need to be addressed?
- How many hours has the reefer trailer been used in a given week, month, or year?
GPS tracking not only allows them to locate stolen trailers, but even pinpoint the location of incorrectly parked trailers.
It allows transportation companies to deter criminal activity and makes overall management smoother.
2. Digital Data Logging
GPS powered trackers offer data in both real-time and historical to monitor and verify things such as detention time, run time, temperature data, etc. right at the mobile device or desktop.
This digital log ensures that the drivers do not make an unauthorized diversion with reefer trailers. It also serves as proof of your service monitoring.
Depending on the setting of the installed tracking device, it will give you the location of the trailer.
Historical Logs can also be generated in csv format for printing or transmitting later.
3. Real-Time Temperature Alerts of Reefer Trailers
When temperature monitoring systems are combined with GPS tracking technology, this allows the dispatcher to monitor refrigerated unit conditions remotely at all times.
You can quickly view fleet in real-time using GPS tracking software and monitor temperature on the map for every trailer or vehicle. It allows you to get detailed information about the reefer’s temperature.
Furthermore, a GPS tracker linked to reefer can monitor up to 10 wireless temperature sensors at one time. It lets you monitor diverse areas of your refrigerated trailer well.
Since it is linked to the GPS fleet tracking system, the manager gets notified instantly when the temperature deviates from a set range.
Trailer tracking devices typically send a location signal every 15 seconds to 47 hours, depending on your needs.
4. Better Customer Service
A GPS-powered GPS tracking solution also allows transportation carriers to offer better customer service and accountability.
Also, temperature alerts and viewable temperature readings motivate fleet operators with the information that assures successful and safe delivery.
5. Eliminate Time Wastage
The fleet managers need to ensure that the trailers are picked up from their location as soon as they get filled.
GPS reefer trailer tracking offers insights into everything. You can even set a geofence boundary around crucial locations like yard, customers. It provides alerts when vehicles enter and exit the boundary.
GPS trailer trackers pinpoint exactly where the trailed is located. It assures that the driver does not sit idle in the yard for too long. This lower time wastage and ensures that everything goes well as planned.
6. Easy Preventive Maintenance
Maintaining trailers is essential for fleet agencies. It is because it decreases the amount of downtime that fleet experiences while they are out for work.
Remember, the reefer unit breakdown is one of the main causes of cargo spoilage. It is also vital to keep water out of insulated cavities.
Trailers that have not been picked up by the driver for a long time may indicate mechanical problems.
By setting reminders and crafting a schedule allows companies to get automatic alerts when the maintenance date of the reefer date is due, approaching, or overdue.
It will enable them to replace a reefer trailer with another till your fleet is ready to hit the road again.
Also, GPS tracking devices provide time stamps at all ping intervals and allow you to answer questions like:
- Why is the driver not choosing a certain trailer?
- Why is the driver avoiding a section of the yard?
Remember, repairs made instantly to the interior and exteriors during damage keeps water out and boost its lifespan.
Furthermore, proper reefer maintenance helps you pass yearly inspections with much ease. It offers great peace of mind.
7. Cut Down Cost
Reefer remote control systems drastically reduce the cost and time of inspecting reefer containers. It allows the crew to react fast to the potential issues in the event of refrigeration unit failure.
Also, instant alerts allow fleet managers to fix the problem before it impacts the product.
Custom alerts can be set for:
- Power disconnection
- Temperature fluctuations that fall out of a specified range
- Unscheduled stops
- Reefer temperature controller status
- Deviations of routes
- Reefer container doors opened at an unauthorized location
Furthermore, efficient routing saves on labor, fuel cost while lowering excess wear and tear on the vehicle. In fact, tracking engine mileage and hours reduces engine maintenance and extends the warranty period.
8. Ensure High Product Quality
Reefer temperature monitoring systems monitor trailers and assets in transit. It prevents product spoilage and rejected deliveries.
9. No Hassle
GPS tracker sends all the data in real-time. It offers you the potential to monitor, report, and get notified on data variances. The bonus point is that there is no hassle, and no special skills are required to get started.
10. Check Temperature at Any Point
Refrigerated temperature monitoring via a GPS tracker identifies travel automatically and starts reporting the location of the reefer when the trip started.
Some GPS Trackers may also act as Data Loggers and Temperature Recorders which record the actual location measured by the temperature sensor, time, voltage, and other metrics. Then, when the trailer returns to a home terminal, all the data is uploaded to be examined or shown to a customer.
Group mode allows you to track the entire fleet and reefer trailers on the same map at the same time. To check the live temperature of the trailers and vehicles, you just need to choose it on the map.
11. Analyze and Control Temperature
GPS reefer tracking allows you to showcase the temperature history. You can drag and zoom in and out to study the information at the chosen time interval.
13. Door Monitoring
The use of a door sensor alert system allows drivers and administrators to get alert when the reefer trailer doors are open for a long time.
These alerts will show when the door was closed or opened at what time, by whom, and at what location.
14. Trailer Theft Prevention
Did you know most of the reefer trailers get lost without having a clue? Are they lost or stolen? No one knows. GPS tracking technology is beneficial for the fleets that require extra security.
A GPS Tracker that can also monitor and log the trailer cargo temperature is the ideal solution and allows trailers to be adequately secured while guarding cargo against thieves or spoilage.
It is paramount for the transportation, freight, and logistics agencies to keep perishable products at safe temperatures throughout the journey.
By monitoring the Reefer trailer temperature, shippers and carriers can save money by lowering the rejected loads and product spoilage, in addition to Trailer tracking utilization reports which will show the details of how trailers are used, miles covered, etc.
These insights allow better management of trailers and enable the companies to get better revenue.