The costs of running a cooling or heating unit in a truck for long periods can be quite expensive in terms of fuel costs. Many companies are adding computer controlled systems to allow the driver, or even the dispatcher, to monitor the temperature in the reefer trailer and even adjust it if need be. This equipment is expensive however, leaving some companies to use metal floor temperature controlled reefers.
Metal floor reefers are part of most reefer services and work to lower fuel costs by using the process of conduction and radiation to keep the goods at desired temperatures. When the unit either heats or cools the air the metal itself is also heated or cooled. Because metal retains both well this heat will build until the desired temperature is achieved, at which time the unit shuts down.
Once this happens the residual heat/cold trapped in the metal will begin to radiate out into the air and goods touching it will be cooled by conduction. Depending on the external temperature this process could continue for from several minutes up to several hours. The temperature control unit thereby is not running and using valuable fuel and extending its lifespan.
Reefer trailers are more commonly wooden floored trailers because the wooden floor allows better air circulation, which can be especially important for goods such as produce. The extra circulation also allows air to circulate under goods, cooling the bottom as well as the top and sides. Reefers used to transport meat products, especially fresh meat, often prefer wooden floors for hanging meat and metal for boxes or packaged meats.
Reefer trailer are only used for foods that must be kept at a consistent temperature. They are somewhat more expensive to operate and are much harder on fuel bills. There are also maintenance costs to be considered as well. But if you are moving a moderate amount of goods, less than 40,000 lbs, and your goods have to be maintained at a constant temperature, reefer trucks are the best, most economical bet. Larger shipping requirements require rail delivery to certain points, where they can be loaded into local or regional delivery trucks.
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