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While many truckers that are owner/operators choose a flatbed or standard trailer for hauling freight choosing a reefer trailer may provide you with an additional source of income. This is because the reefer trailer can be used to hail those perishable loads that need to stay cool and temperature controlled, but, it can also serve as a standard trailer to haul all types of freight. Of course, a reefer is more expensive to purchase and does have additional upkeep, but you may be surprised at how quickly this can be offset with the range of freight options you have.
The term reefer, while well recognized and understood, is actually a short version of the term refrigeration. The formal or correct term for these trucks and trailers is transport refrigeration units or TRUs. Reefers haul everything from swinging beef and pork carcasses to fresh fruits and vegetables and pharmaceutical products to bulk chemicals that must be kept at a constant temperature. For some types of reefer loads HAZMAT regulations and endorsements will be required.
There are some important considerations when driving a reefer unit. Understanding these issues as well as having some basic knowledge to do "on the road" emergency repairs will be essential if you are doing any distance hauling. Reefer trucks, and loads, also may require additional cleaning and maintenance between hauls. Usually this is very minor and easy to keep up with provided you get into the habit of routine cleaning and regular servicing of the reefer unit itself.
Reefer Trailer and Truck/Trailer Combination Costs
Reefer trailers, with their self-contained cooling systems and temperature control, are more costly than most standard types of trailers. The additional features, whisper quiet operation models, and the load capacity of the trailer will all impact the cost.
The cost of a used reefer truck typically ranges between ten and thirty thousand depending on hours of use, condition, general repair and size. New trailers, with multiple temperature zones, can easily double that cost depending on the make, model and features you select. Most truckers that want to do long haul work look for a 53 foot trailer as this is a good size for hauling other types of dry freight if a refrigerated load is not available.
In addition to the actual cost of buying, the cost of operating and maintaining the system in the reefer unit itself is costly. Most drivers find that the additional fuel consumption to run the reefer is about a penny a mile in the colder weather and higher in the hot summer months. Depending on where you truck to and from this could be a considerable expense over a long, hot summer and a warm temperature year round.
Smaller units that are a reefer truck/trailer combination are also a good option. These typically will range in size from a 14 to a 26 foot body and may have additional loading and unloading options for ease of freight management. These trucks, as used options, will vary in price from under ten thousand dollars to over thirty, again depending on a variety of factors.
Routine Maintenance and Upkeep
As with any type of perishable product or produce, additional care has to be taken in cleaning a reefer trailer between loads. This typically includes a full wash, not just a sweeping out, of the trailer. Of course the type of loads you haul will make a big difference in how much cleaning is required.
In addition, any possible loss of temperature control in the unit, failure of the refrigeration system or any type of damaged or spoilage of the produce or fresh items being hauled is going to result in a much more significant mess. Truck wash-outs will definitely become an expense that you learn to plan for if you are hauling perishable commodities.
Depending on the actual refrigeration system in the truck routine maintenance can include replacing belts, compressors, evaporators and condensers. The older the model of reefer the more routine upkeep is required. New models, which are less maintenance intensive, have less moving parts including fewer belts, driveshafts and other parts that are likely to become less reliable with use. Electrical motors within the reefer also help to reduce routine maintenance but they do result in more costly repairs if they stop working.
Generally, unless you are trained in refrigeration maintenance and repair, it is a good idea to have a professional check the unit every few months. You should also make it a daily part of your pre-drive inspection to check the reefer unit fluid levels for both oil and the coolant. This is a simple procedure and will only add a minute or two to your overall inspection. It is also important to check the reefer for signs of leaks or any type of damage to belts. Loose belts can also be a problem and can be easily adjusted. visit this website. http://voltaair.com