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A Guide to For Shippers to Pick the Best Reefer Service for your Freight

Nathan McGuire
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March 3, 2023
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A Guide to For Shippers to Pick the Best Reefer Service for your Freight
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Shippers with cold chains realize the inherent risks involved in transporting perishable commodities using reefer trailers. There’s a lot of things that could potentially go wrong after the truck is loaded and gone. If the driver forgets to pre-cool the reefer before being loaded, they risk a temperature variance that could affect the quality of the product; if the driver forgets to set the reefer on continuous instead of start-stop; if the reefer chute is torn or damaged, the air might not circulate correctly in the trailer, causing an unequal distribution of cold air; If the reefer isn’t calibrated correctly, a degree of difference in temperature is enough to freeze and spoil an entire load of asparagus; and a dreaded reefer breakdown can spoil everyone’s day, and lead to expensive insurance claims and harm to the carrier-shipper-customer relationship.

Fortunately, there are certain measures shippers can take to mitigate the chances of lost product and insurance claims. It starts by partnering with a transportation service provider that specializes in food and beverage logistics and supply chain solutions. Experienced food logistics companies like Wicker Park Logistics ensure that all their North American network of reefer carriers are properly vetted for their service record; they require their carrier partners calibrate their reefer unit, pay careful attention to operational requirements, and use technologies that streamline communication and provide visibility on the entire supply chain.

What are Reefers?

Refrigerated truckload trailers (reefers) are distinctive from dry vans because the nose of the trailer has a large and noisy refrigerating unit. These trailers are standardized in dimension just like regular dry vans, and are usually 48’ or 53’ (of course there are exceptions, such as box trucks that come in a variety of sizes). The big difference is what’s inside the reefer unit. The floor, ceiling, and walls are usually made of metal or fiberglass to help improve insulation, and to prevent odors from the products transported from seeping into the material.Reefers are temperature controlled using a device handled by the driver. It displays the temperature readings throughout the journey, ensuring that the reefer is working and maintaining the right temperature.

Reefers are used throughout the logistics industry to transport time-sensitive perishable commodities. Shippers often look for dedicated reefer truck capacity to secure quality trucks and source enough capacity on their cold chain lanes.

What Type of Shippers Need Reefer Delivery Service?

Reefer service is needed across a range of industries that manufacture and distribute essential consumer goods and other temperature-sensitive products. Most perishable commodities such as fresh produce, medical supplies, frozen foods, pharmaceutical goods, hazardous materials, and seafood require reefer units to maintain proper temperatures throughout the entire logistical lifecycle. As many of us are well aware, certain commodities have specific temperature requirements necessary to keep products safe for consumption and use.

In the fresh produce industry, for example, every type of fruit or vegetable needs to be hauled at a certain temperature to prevent frost, wilting, or chill damage.  Product rejection is an unfortunately common occurrence in cold chain logistics, with DAT estimating that almost 12% of all reefer loads get rejected or delayed at the receiver. That’s why it’s imperative for shippers to partner with providers that bring shippers real visibility over their cold chain to prevent potential disruptions before they happen.

What to Look for When Choosing a Reefer Carrier

There are three major factors shippers should consider when choosing the right transportation service provider for your high-valued freight. For starters, make sure your carrier partner offers a range of value-added services that are more than just a rate and a truck. A fully-integrated provider can offer shippers:

  • Warehouse and Distribution Service
  • Last Mile Delivery Options
  • 24-hour customer service support
  • Cross-border freight solutions into Mexico and Canada
  • Transloading
  • Inbound logistics
  • Dedicated Capacity

On-Demand Reefer Capacity

When it comes to reefer freight, look for a provider that specializes in connecting cold chain shippers with their North American customers. Wicker Park Logistics has a network of dedicated reefer carriers in their arsenal, ensuring that cold chain shippers have steady capacity throughout the year, helping to mitigate seasonal volatility in the U.S. truck market. Whether it’s a spot load or consistent volume, Wicker Park Logistics offers dedicated solutions to ensure your time-sensitive freight gets picked up on time and delivered just in time. Their digital portal allows pre-qualified carriers to bid and accept loads, ensuring that the best truck is assigned to your high valued shipments.

Transparency and Total Visibility on Every Reefer Load

Not sure where your truck’s at? Can’t get a hold of your driver? Did your freight broker leave you in the dark? These are some of the daily challenges shippers face when it comes to basic load updates that are necessary to ensure on-time arrival. Wicker Park Logistics helps streamline communication by offering shippers with tech-solutions that provide end-to-end visibility on every single load. Their plug and play TMS is customizable based on your requirements, and gives shippers access to up-to-the-minute load notifications, tracking and tracing, searchable BOL or PO navigation, and an all-in-one portal that makes everything so makes your cold chain so much less stressful.

Optimize Your Cold Chain Operations

Behind each reefer load being transported is a trail of data that shippers can harness and find ways to lower their transportation costs and streamline efficiencies throughout their operations. Through the power of automation Wicker Park Logistics is transforming the way shippers think about their cold chain. Their team of pricing and data analysts can run customizable reports on your shipping data, finding ways to optimize your lanes and reduce dead or empty miles, automate certain tasks around the office that eliminate those dull data-entry tasks, and reduce your labor costs so you can concentrate your efforts on expanding your customer base and improving their overall satisfaction.

Wicker Park Logistics Has Your Reefer Freight Covered

Each day, Wicker Park Logistics helps cold chain shippers connect their time-sensitive reefer freight throughout North America. With cross-border and domestic shipping options available, they help alcohol and beverage companies, food shippers, seafood companies, retailers and manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies get their reefer loads delivered as safely and quickly as possible. Combining industry experience and tech-enabled solutions, Wicker Park Logistics helps shippers optimize their cold chain. Connect with an expert from Wicker Park Logistics today!

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