Trucking In Produce Season – 10 Tips for Reefer Success

 In Compliance

Are you running a reefer this produce season? It’s a great time to make money in the freight industry, but higher rates can also mean higher risk! We’ve put together a checklist of 10 tips to help make this a fruitful season for our clients running reefers. 

Double-check the Temperature Requirements

Check the temperature requirements with both the broker AND the shipper. If the requirements differ, always go with the temperature required by the shipper and notify your broker.

Always Pre-cool the Trailer

It can take two hours to cool an empty trailer with the doors closed. Make sure the trailer has reached the appropriate temperature by the time you get to your loading appointment.

Set the Reefer Unit on Continuous

Run the reefer on the continuous setting, not the cycle setting. Temperature spikes in the cycle setting can affect the product and could implicate the driver in a claim situation.

Verify Shipper Entry Requirements

Some customers have entry and/or loading regulations. Requirements from customers can vary, so make sure to understand all of the regulations before taking the load. Some require that your reefer fuel is at least 50% full, that you have extra reefer fuel in the truck, empty scale tickets or proof of trailer wash-outs.

Pulp Product at the Shipper

Always pulp the product before loading begins and note that pulp temp on the BOL. Reefers maintain product temperatures, they do not cool product. Do not accept any freight that is hotter than the temperature requirements of the load. Noting this temp on the BOL can protect the driver down the road if necessary.

Do You Need Scale Tickets? 

Certain customers require certified empty & heavy scale tickets to issue load payment. Sometimes the customer also has a preferred scale close by. Make sure you check in with your broker to confirm what’s needed to avoid any deductions or payment delays.

Who’s Responsible for Load Count? The Driver or the Shipper?

Is the driver responsible for counting the product? Or is this shipper load & count? It’s important that this is clear from the beginning to avoid being held responsible for shortages upon delivery. Confirm with the driver and then again at the shipper. The driver should never sign the BOL without noting any shortages or writing SLC (shipper load & count) to protect himself from discrepancies.

Stay Prepared & Prevent Disasters

Add reefer breakdown coverage to your insurance policy to protect yourself and your company. Always keep extra reefer fuel & jumper cables in the truck. Try to stop frequently to check fuel levels just in case. Remember to add anti-gel in cold temperatures and carry more reefer fuel in warmer temperatures, as the reefer will have to work harder to maintain temperature.

Is the Rate Weight-Based, or Flat Rate? 

Most rates are flat, but during produce season you are more likely to encounter weight-based rates, meaning the total payout is determined by the final delivered weight of product. If it’s weight-based, make sure you get scale tickets at delivery and turn them in with the rest of your paperwork.

Always Arrive Early

Arrive at least 30 minutes before your appointment. Expect lengthy unloads and expensive lumpers. 

Better rates and high demand can give your company the revenue boost you need, but it only takes one high-value produce claim to put a company out of business. Some bond companies list produce as an exempt commodity, making it difficult to dispute and collect on a claim. These guidelines can help you take advantage of the season while taking precautions to avoid a claim situation.  


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