April 10, 2018

Reefer Trucks And Trailers: Everything You Need To Know

Let’s explore the world of refrigerated trucks and trailers, learn their history, and why they matter


The cold chain has become an increasingly global phenomenon. Refrigerated transportation companies move and deliver temperature controlled goods all over the world.

Developing countries rely on reefer freight to receive life-saving, temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. They also use refrigerated transportation to deliver their exports all over the world and solidify their positions in the global economy.

Countries with larger economies use refrigerated transportation even more:

With the increasing reach of globalization, the cold chain makes the world a smaller place by bringing fresh foods, fine art, pharmaceuticals and more across the globe more safely and in a fraction of the time it would have taken a decade ago.

All of this innovation is great for the global economy, not to mention for individual consumers—but what’s behind it all?

Reefer trucks and trailers.

If not for the technology that allows temperature controlled goods to be transported, there would be no cold chain.

Let’s explore the world of refrigerated trucks and trailers, learn their history, and why they matter.


Believe it or not, reefer trucks have been around for a while—just not in their current form.

Before the 20th century and the advent of motor vehicles, temperature controlled goods were transported—albeit in limited quantities and for short distances—using large chunks of ice. We’ve come a long way since then.  

In the 1920s, companies in the United States used vehicles with cooled containers to transport items like meat and fish for short distances.

In the 1930s, commercial vehicles with built-in mechanical cooling units began to hit the roads, and by 1939, Fred Jones invented the first portable air cooling unit.

Since then, the technology employed in refrigerating trucks and trailers has been developed and refined, as well as applied to other vehicles such as ships and planes.


Typically reefer trailers come in standard lengths between 28 and 53 feet, and do not exceed 13.5 feet in height.

The load on a reefer truck should never exceed 44,000 pounds.

Alternatively, for smaller loads of temperature controlled goods, refrigerated vans and sprinters can be used.

Couriers often use refrigerated sprinters to transport goods quickly on a local level. In this case, the vehicle itself has a built in refrigerated container rather than a removable trailer.


Everyone can rattle off the obvious reason for reefer trucks—and refrigerated transportation as a whole—to exist:

They keep temperature sensitive goods from spoiling during the transportation process.

But really, it’s a lot more than that.

Consumers—whether in the form of individuals or businesses—rely on the fact that when they order an item, that item arrives to them in a safe and intact condition.

Based on this need, specific food safety regulations and laws exist to ensure that reefer trucks and containers maintain the safety and integrity of the goods they transport.

In other words, refrigerated freight isn’t just about getting an item from point A to point B, it’s about getting it there in compliance with all necessary laws and food safety standards.


Companies operating in the Midwest with a need to transport temperature controlled goods should be able to count on a reliable and experienced partner.

We offer multiple time definite on demand refrigerated delivery options as well as general refrigerated delivery services using refrigerated dock trucks or sprinters.

Ready to get started?

Request a refrigerated transportation quote!

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