Category: reefer operator

Pros and Cons of Driving a Reefer

pros-and-cons-driving-a-reefer

Driving a refrigerated truck (reefer) is one of the most fundamental jobs there is:  bringing fresh food from the farm (distributors) to the people (stores). Reefers are the reason why people from Maine can have ripe avocados, people from Utah can have fresh lobster, and a small milk farmer can be distributed to a large chain of grocery stores.  Reefers keep food fresh and safe as it makes its way across town or across the country.

There are both pros and cons with most things in life, and driving a reefer is no different.  Many truck drivers who want to make themselves more versatile and marketable will get the training and expertise to drive different types of loads that require more knowledge.  Whether it’s hazardous materials or special equipment like a dump truck, having these added skills can put a driver above the rest of the pack.

Because refrigerated cargo is perishable and must be kept at a consistent, specific temperature, extra training is needed.  If temperature requirements are not strictly followed, the cargo is at risk of being spoiled and therefore a total loss, or worse, the cargo could become a public health hazard.

 

Pros of Driving a Reefer

  • Some dry loads are able to be hauled in the reefer which doubles possibilities for filling deadhead loads.
  • Typically, reefer drivers earn more money.
  • Fresh food is always in demand so there’s a consistent demand for reefer drivers, no matter how well the economy is doing.
  • Long haul drives are common which usually means more money.
  • Lumpers or people who unload trucks often will unload your cargo for you.  
  • If you do have to unload your cargo, a cool, refrigerated trailer is nicer than tractor trailers that are sweltering in the summer heat.
  • Most grocery stores and grocery chains have dedicated loading docks so they’re usually easy to maneuver into.

 

Cons

  • Reefers often need to be early-morning deliveries so there can be a lot of night driving.
  • The continuous noise from the refrigeration system can be difficult to tolerate for the driver as well as any trucks they park near.  The refrigeration units have to run constantly, including at night.
  • Reefers need to be cleaned out well after each haul.
  • Because there are two tanks and the refrigeration unit runs constantly, they use more fuel.
  • Long hauls are common so driving a reefer may not be the best option for drivers with families or who are looking for more regular hours.
  • Reefer drivers are responsible for controlling the cooling equipment.
  • Breakdowns could lead to freight spoilage.
  • Reefer repairs are more expensive than other vehicles.  

 

Driving a reefer isn’t for everyone.  Due to the importance of protecting the freight by strictly controlling the temperature and keeping the trailer interior  washed and clean, there is more work that goes along with higher pay. However, the added responsibility is the reason why many drivers choose to drive a reefer.  Add to that less competition for jobs and work stability even in the worst of economic times, driving a reefer can be a rewarding and lucrative challenge.

No matter what kind of truck you drive, Trucker Search can help you find trucking companies that are looking for you.  Go to TruckerSearch.com today and post your resume or search the extensive database of companies who need drivers like you.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmissions

manual-versus-automatic-transmissions

Whether driving a tractor-trailer truck or your own passenger vehicle, there are some people who enjoy the complete control they get by driving a manual transmission vehicle while others prefer the ease and simplicity of an automatic.  In the personal vehicle market, fewer and fewer people are opting for manual transmission vehicles, in fact, you might be hard-pressed to walk onto a lot and find one.

In the trucking industry, manual transmissions have always been the standard.  With as many as 18 gears to shift down, tractor-trailer trucks can be tricky to learn, especially for those who are inexperienced with driving a manual transmission vehicle.  Recent trends have shown an increase in automatic transmissions coming off the assembly lines and hitting the roads, but which is better?

Manual transmission trucks are, of course, ones that the driver manually shifts the gears.  Automatic trucks come in either fully automatic like an automatic car, or Automated Manual Transmissions or AMTs that have a gearbox shifted by a computer.  

 

Control

For many, preference comes down to control.  Being in control of when to shift up or down gives the driver more control over the truck.  One of the biggest complaints about Automated Manual Transmissions is that they accelerate too slowly.  The computer works its way through the gears efficiently as it is programmed to do, a driver would manually shift faster to gain momentum faster.  

 

Ease

AMTs are simply easier to drive.  When a driver doesn’t have to concentrate on shifting, he or she can focus on what’s happening on the road ahead. AMTs are considered to be safer than manuals that take greater focus.  In heavy traffic, Manual Transmissions can be downright tedious. Not having to constantly shift gears as you creep along can make dealing with stressful traffic a little easier.

Shifting through all the gears can be tiring as well, although many drivers feel the opposite is true.  Some people feel that driving an AMT is too relaxing and being too relaxed when  driving a big rig can lead to drowsy driving and falling asleep behind the wheel.  Drowsy driving is a huge problem for truckers who spend hours on end driving the country’s highways and is a leading cause of highway accidents.  

 

Fuel Economy

Experienced truckers are generally good about driving to save fuel.  If they’re owner/operators, fuel costs are one of their biggest expenses and for truckers who work for trucking companies, there are bonuses for adhering to the company’s fuel economy standards.  When the computer is doing the shifting, gas mileage is maximized and the savings can be considerable, especially when the drivers are less experienced.

 

Driver Shortage

The U.S. is currently experiencing a severe truck driver shortage that is having an impact on shipping costs nationwide.  For this reason, truck companies are looking to Automated Manual Transmissions or Automatics as a way to bring in more drivers.  As the number of manual transmissions in cars diminishes, so does the number of young people who have ever driven a manual. Manual transmissions are seen as a hindrance to younger applicants who may find the thought of driving a manual transmission truck intimidating.  AMTs are easier to be trained on, and the ease of training also shortens the training period.

The current average driving age in the U.S. is 55 with more drivers retiring than coming in to take their places.  AMTs and Automatics allow older drivers to drive longer.  When arthritis might stop a driver from being able to shift as they once did, an AMT makes it possible for them to put off retirement, which is a huge help to the industry.  

 

Although lovers of Manual Transmissions may not like it, Automated Manual Transmissions are the direction the industry is headed due to their ability to save money through fuel economy, driver recruitment, driver retention, and safety.

 

Whether you drive a manual or automatic, Trucker Search provides a way for truckers to find a great company to work for or for shippers to find great truckers to join their team.  Go to Trucker Search and begin your search today.  

Sources:

https://truck-school.com/wordpress/how-many-gears-does-a-semi-have/

http://www.startribune.com/last-bastion-of-stick-shifts-semis-are-going-automated/492556851/

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/576752327/trucking-industry-struggles-with-growing-driver-shortage

https://www.trucker.com/equipment/amts-yes-or-no

 

Reefer Hauling Tips

reefer-hauling-tips

 

Steven Wright once said, It doesn’t matter what temperature a room is, it’s always room temperature.  

If you’re a reefer operator, you have to be a little more precise.

A reefer, or refrigerated truck, is a truck that has a built-in refrigeration system in order to haul temperature sensitive freight safely.  The trailer must be maintained meticulously to keep it running properly so that the food being hauled is kept at safe temperatures. If it is not kept at the right temperature, food can be lost, costing the company thousands of dollars or worse yet, people could get sick and even die, costing your employer million dollars in lawsuits and lost sales due to a damaged reputation.  

Food Safety is a public safety issue.  In 2017, the FDA launched the Food Safety Modernization Act intended to protect foods from being contaminated on their way from the farm to consumers. The requirements include rules for the cleanliness of vehicles and transportation equipment, required temperatures controls, keeping ready-to-eat foods and non-food items away from raw foods, and keeping out contaminants and allergens.  Also included are guidelines for food safety training and record-keeping which must be detailed and kept for a year. For more on the act, go here.  

As a reefer truck driver, you must take more precautions than with a regular trailer.  Some of the things you must do are:

  • Keep the trailer clean.  It should be washed after every load if you can.  If you’re carrying meat, blood can spread across the floor during transit so be thorough about cleaning.   Odors can stick around too and affect the smell and taste of your next load. Be on the lookout for things that could’ve been left behind from your last load like wood bits or nails from the pallets or screws from other equipment.
  • Do strict regular maintenance.  Breaking down in a reefer truck can result in the loss of your load.  Don’t risk it! Get regular maintenance to ensure your truck and its sensitive load meets their destination safely.  Giving your truck a quick inspection before each trip, looking for any damage or nails in your tires, check tire pressure, etc. may prevent a breakdown as well.  
  • Follow loading guidelines.   Stacking loads appropriately so air flows through the truck will help to keep the food at the correct temperature.  Never overload.
  • Pre-cool your reefer.  If you put cold food in your hot truck, the temperature of the contents will lower before the truck cools to the appropriate temperature.  Better to do it first. Allow plenty of time to do this, especially in the summer.
  • Make the temperature of your trailer the most important thing.  Before you pick up your load, check with the shipper to find the right temperature of the load.  If the temperature is off by even a little when you deliver the load, the receiver may reject it due to food safety concerns.  Bacteria grow at temps between 40°-140° so it’s crucial to get it right. Don’t rely on the trucks thermometer; use a pulp temperature thermometer before, during, and after transit and be sure to record all of your temperature readings.
  • Fill up at the pump first.  Make sure that when you pick up your load, you have a full tank of gas.  Reefers need to be kept running to keep the trailer cool so any stop can affect food temperature.  Some shippers require that you’ve filled up before you take the load.

 

TruckerSearch is a leader in helping reefer drivers find employers and jobs across the country.  You can search our database of thousands of job listings or load your resume and let companies find you.  And if you’re a shipper looking for experienced reefer drivers, we’ve got the database for you! Go to TruckerSearch and begin your search today!