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Reefer Trailer

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Transportation Equipment
Great Dane Reefer Trailer
Reefer trailers
, in the form of van trailers, are used in the transportation industry to transport temperature-sensitive goods. In general, these haulers are refrigerated—“reefer” is slang for “refrigerated”—though they may also be heated.[1] Modern reefer trailers commonly measure between 48 and 55 feet (15 and 17 m) in length[2] and can haul multiple products in the same trip.

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] Early Refrigerated Transportation

Before the dawn of refrigerated transport by road vehicles, perishable goods were moved using boats and railcars. Although mechanically refrigerated railcars had been developed by the 1880s,[3] they were seen as economically unsound. Therefore, perishable cargo in railcars was cooled by large blocks of ice or frozen brine, available at icing stations along train routes.

[edit] The First Refrigerated Road Haulers

Prior to the development of mechanically cooled reefer units, perishable products were transported in large van trailers containing blocks of ice.[4] A loud engine was mounted on the outside of these 30- to 35-foot (9- to 11-m) trailers, and a fan, driven by the trailer’s motor, was affixed within them, near the front. These trailers were insulated in order to maintain a relatively cold inside temperature. The 100-pound (45-kg) ice blocks required for these van trailers were available at most truck stops. They were lifted by ice hooks and placed into the trailers through the roof or from the sides—as many blocks as space would permit were loaded into the trailers. The bunker consisted of a partition at the front end of the trailer. It was common for truckers to stop every 200 to 300 miles (322 to 482 km) in order to ice down his load. Many truck stops included ice crushers, and truckers were able to blow crushed ice onto their cargo through a large hose. These frequent stops resulted in a delayed delivery of cargo.

[edit] Mechanically Cooled Reefer Units

Between 1925 and 1930 mechanically cooled reefer trucks began to surface.[5] One of the first companies to introduce a mechanically refrigerated hauler was Baird, in 1929.[6] The following year, a company known as Borden Co. began to use mechanically refrigerated trucks to transport ice cream.[7] The company’s units, used on long-haul routes, were powered from the drive shaft. These trucks continued to gain popularity through the mid-1930s, as companies were employing not only to transport ice cream and other dairy products, but also meat. The refrigeration units on these trucks were sometimes located in the front, and sometimes in the rear. By the late 1930s mechanically cooled, 38- to 40-foot (11.5- to 12.2-m) semi-trailers were being introduced. In 1937, Chevrolet tractors were being used to haul certain units, such as milk trailers.[8] In contrast to later, externally mounted cooling systems, the refrigeration unit on these semi-trailers was located inside the trailer body.

[edit] The Rise of Reefer Units

By 1939, the USA had approximately 18,000 refrigerated road vehicles—between 2,000 and 2,500 of these units were mechanically cooled.[9] Those units that were not mechanical used regular ice, dry ice, or eutectic plates. With the implementation of the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 and the subsequent growth of the trucking industry over the next few decades, the number of refrigerated units continued to rise.[10]

[edit] Features/How It Works

Modern reefer trailers are greatly improved versions of their predecessors, thanks to advanced technology and environmental laws. Today, they are able to transport a wide variety of products over long distances. These heavy haulers consist of an engine, compressor, evaporator, and a condenser.[11]

[edit] Material Hauled by Reefer Trailers

Modern reefer trailers are used to haul many products including produce, photography supplies, chemicals, computers, human blood, plasma, and medical supplies.[12] Among one of the most commonly hauled products is meat. Often, entire sides of beef are hung from hooks in reefer trailers; they are known as “swinging meat”. These loads can be extremely hazardous if a driver turns too quickly, as centrifugal force will act upon the swaying meat, potentially causing a trailer to flip over.[13]

[edit] Trailer and Chassis

Trailer and reefer unit manufacturers have worked in tandem to develop lighter, stronger trailers. These reefer trailers are able to haul heavier payloads as a result of the decreased hauler weight.

[edit] Improved Refrigeration

Before perishable cargo is loaded and transported, it must be pre-cooled by the shipper to ensure that the load will be delivered in perfect condition. In contrast to the noisy engines of the past, the condition of the cargo in today’s reefer trailers is well maintained with quieter, four-cylinder diesel engines to provide power to the refrigeration systems. Modern reefers now have the option of multitemperature refrigeration in the one trailer. This system utilizes two or more evaporators operating from the same power source; movable partitions are used to create compartments for hauling up to three types of cargo,[14] each with precise temperature requirements, at once.

[edit] Early Warning Systems

In addition to multirefrigeration systems, reefer trailers now include warning systems. Thermo King, for example, developed the Smart Reefer system (recently displaced by the improved Smart Reefer 2).[15] This technology consists of a gauge mounted on the reefer’s dash to display the trailer’s temperature, and indicate any changes that may have occurred. The Smart Reefer also enables the driver to identify when and where problematic changes may have taken place. Also available are 40 built-in alarm codes to notify the truck driver of a problem that is going to occur. Once notified, the driver is able to correct the issue, taking measures such as employing a high-speed pull-down that can quickly lower the trailer’s temperature.[16]

[edit] Environmental Considerations

Environmentally conscious reefer trailer design has emerged over the past three decades, vastly improving the operational standards that were once common. In the past, most refrigeration systems on reefer trailers used Freon, a universal refrigerant.[17] As a result of the Montreal Protocol of 1987,[18] this producer of harmful, ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCECs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons) was banned from being included on new reefer trailers. Though many pre-1966 trailers still utilize Freon, numerous reefer owners have converted their units to an environmentally friendly coolant known as R-134a.[19]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Ritchie Bros. Marketplace

[edit] References

  1. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. Equipment Valuation Assistant. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated: 2004.
  2. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  3. Refrigerated Transportation Timeline, pre-WWII. Brinkster. 2008-09-23.
  4. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  5. Refrigerated Transportation Timeline, pre-WWII. Brinkster. 2008-09-23.
  6. Refrigerated Transportation Timeline, pre-WWII. Brinkster. 2008-09-23.
  7. Refrigerated Transportation Timeline, pre-WWII. Brinkster. 2008-09-23.
  8. Refrigerated Transportation Timeline, pre-WWII. Brinkster. 2008-09-23.
  9. Refrigerated Transportation Timeline, pre-WWII. Brinkster. 2008-09-23.
  10. Interstate Highway Act of 1956. Ohio History Central. 2008-09-23.
  11. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  12. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  13. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  14. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  15. Products. Thermoking. 2008-09-23.
  16. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  17. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.
  18. The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer. CIESIN. 2008-09-23.
  19. Holtzman, Stan. Semi-Truck Color History. MBI Publishing Company: 1997.