What Is Refrigerated Shipping and How Does It Work? | GoShip

What Is Refrigerated Shipping and How Does It Work?

Posted on:
Oct 02, 2019

What is Refrigerated Shipping?

Refrigerated shipping, otherwise known as Reefer shipping, is the most popular type of temperature-controlled shipping. It is the ideal transportation mode for temperature-sensitive goods, as they use temperature-controlled containers to keep them at the right temperature during transportation.

In this case, the freight is loaded and taken in trailers with built-in refrigeration systems and climate control.

Reefer shipping plays a significant role in the global economy, especially in the grocery stores and logistics industry. It is the best way to prevent items from deteriorating while in transit.

For this reason, shippers of dairy, fruits, meat, vegetable, pharmaceutics, and many others depend on refrigerated transportation every day.

Frozen shipping dates back to the 1800s when drivers place freight on large pieces of ice and salt to ensure that the goods remain in a cool environment. This method was largely inefficient and often led to spoiled goods and damaged trailers. It resulted in the emergence of more sophisticated reefers in the 1900s.

However, these days, thanks to technological advancements, there are cutting-edge equipment with temperature monitoring systems that help to store products in pre-shipped conditions.

How Does Refrigerated Shipping Work

The refrigerated containers in reefer trucks have at least one compartment. In some cases, they can have as many as three compartments. They are durable and structurally designed to resist harsh conditions.

In addition, all the sections in a refrigerated truck have specific temperature control that allows the shipping of different items at varying temperatures or humidity. This is why goods can transport without getting too cold or hot.

Refrigerated trucks encourage the use of different cooling methods, such as simple ice for goods covering shorter distances. That said, many refrigerated truck shippers opt for an improved cooling system involving a compressor and condenser designed for liquid coolant.

Why Most Shippers Use LTL for Refrigerated Shipments

Refrigerated shipments are mostly transported as Less Than Truckload (LTL), meaning that different shipments are transported together on one reefer truck. This happens because most refrigerated shipments are smaller than shipments in Full truckload (FTL). Hence, grouping them alongside other shipments improves cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

How Cold is Refrigerated Trucking?

Refrigerated containers can be adjusted to temperatures ranging from as low as -2°F to 55°F. This is why they can ship items of almost all temperatures.

Benefits of Refrigerated Shipping

Refrigerated shipping benefits shippers in different ways. Below are some of the key benefits.

Consistent Demand

Perishable products such as dairy products, frozen foods, fresh fruits, meat, and vegetables are always in high demand. This implies that refrigerated trucking will always be the go-to transportation mode, regardless of the season. Shippers of these products recognize that this is the only way to deliver their products fresh and safe.

Adjustable Temperatures

Although refrigerated trucks are mostly used to ensure that items remain cold and fresh, they can also be modified to suit lower external temperatures. This allows the safe delivery of shipments through varying climates.


Besides their built-in refrigeration systems, refrigerated containers are also equipped with special protection from sun and rain. Furthermore, there is a strict compliance policy for reefer carriers, making it a secure and trusted way to transport your temperature-sensitive goods.

This allows grocery stores to safely receive fresh produce or perishables that were grown or gotten from different parts of their country or other parts of the world.

Even restaurants and supermarkets can meet their customers’ wants and needs thanks to the reliability of refrigerated shipping.


Refrigerated trucking is well known for beverage and food transportation. Nonetheless, they serve a wide variety of industries.

Some shippers often use reefers to transport cosmetic products, chemicals, electronics, fine art, flowers, furniture, machinery, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, plants, and a few others. As a matter of fact, portable cooling units were in uses to transport medical supplies during World War II.

Till today, refrigerated remains a highly sought-after shipping option and one of the fastest-growing sectors in the transportation industry.

Shipment Monitoring

Technology advancement allows reefer trailers to adjust to the temperature required for the ideal product delivery. In real time, you can also monitor factors like shipment temperature, humidity, etc.


Technology has led to the emergence of tracking devices. This makes it possible for buyers and shippers to track and trace the shipment while in transit.


Refrigerated containers come in different sizes that suit different budgets and food storage requirements.

The most common sizes are: 20 feet, 21 feet high cube wide, 22 feet high cube wide, 40 feet, 40 feet high cube wide, and 45 feet high cube wide. The high cube-wide options provide extra room and headspace.

Refrigerated Shipping Tips

Below are a few tips you should use during refrigerated shipping.

Load Goods Quickly

Prepare your temperature-sensitive goods ahead of loading to quicken the process. This reduces the chances of ruining them while loading and improves efficiency.

Set the Right Temperature

Different products demand varying temperatures. For instance, perishables and pharmaceuticals require different temperatures. Hence, they must be at the appropriate temperature before the transportation of the shipment commences.

Monitor the Shipment

Refrigerated trucks are fit with a temperature monitoring system that help to keep products safe during transportation. So, ensure that the driver understands each shipment’s condition (temperature requirement) and monitors their temperature during transportation.

Unload Goods Quickly

Like the loading process, unloading the goods should also be efficient and quick to protect them. The shorter the space between arrival and unloading, the better the chances of keeping the goods fresh and safe.

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