Refrigerated trucking is a complicated process with many challenges. It’s essential to maintain proper temperatures in order to ensure the food stays fresh and follows regulations to keep consumers safe, but this isn’t always easy.

Drivers who transport refrigerated goods require a deep knowledge of how refrigerated trailers function in order to execute a successful delivery. In this blog, we explore the top five refrigerated trucking challenges that the industry faces today.

Loss of Temperature

This is the first and most obvious challenge. The main cause of loss of temperature is poor loading practices, or when a package sits out on the loading dock too long. However, it can also result from the reefer unit being set at the wrong temperature — although reefer units are meant to maintain the temperature level, not take away heat and reduce the temperature. It is estimated by industry analysts that 32% of refrigerated cargo loaded onto refrigerated vehicles is at the wrong temperature at the time of loading. Temperature abuses that exceed the food tolerance level can have a huge effect on the quality of the food, leading to rejected loads by the receiver. Overall, loss of temperature can have a negative effect on your bottom line and reputation.

Equipment Failure

Just like any other piece of equipment, a reefer unit can experience problems and stop working. Some of the most common malfunctions include fluid leaks, faulty belts and hoses, faulty calibration, damaged air chutes, condenser issues, sensor malfunctions, door seals damaged, and bulkhead blockage. If these problems aren’t dealt with quickly, they can affect the temperature inside the reefer unit and compromise the quality of your load. To prevent this, modern refrigeration units can have more than 200 alarm or fault codes. However, don’t rely just on this technology — the best way to avoid equipment failure is to conduct regular maintenance checks.

Driver Mistakes

Any driver operating a reefer truck should undergo training so they know how to set controls for their reefer unit. Without this training, drivers may make the mistake of setting the reefer unit to start-stop mode instead of continuous-run mode or vice versa. In addition, drivers who aren’t familiar with the reefer’s alarm codes won’t know how to respond and identify a problem when an alarm is triggered. Another common mistake is forgoing a visual inspection of the load, which can cause drivers to miss an issue that could have been easily avoided. While equipment failure is unavoidable at times, driver mistakes can be eradicated with adequate education or by simply watching instructional videos that are available online.

Compliance Issues

In April 2016, the FDA finalized the Food Safety Modernization Act rule on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food to prevent food contamination during transportation. This came as a response to listeria and salmonella outbreaks stemming from the handling of food. There are concerns because the document fails to clearly define what “adequately cleaned and sanitized” means, leaving it up to the discretion of the driver. This ambiguity leaves room for error and increases the likelihood of food contamination. However, fleets can do their best to eliminate any questions they may have about what constitutes as compliant practices by taking part in food safety training and keeping a record of procedures.

Identifying Quality Carriers

Due to the challenges listed above, it’s difficult to find a carrier with the experience and knowledge required to transport refrigerated loads without issue. On top of this, we are in the midst of a massive truck driver shortage. According to NPR, “The American Trucking Associations figures companies need about 60,000 drivers, a number that could top 100,000 in just a few years.”


With all of these challenges, it’s essential that you choose the right logistics provider that can overcome them and better serve you.

DeGroot Logistics has been grown from the ground up to meet your needs with the highest level of service to the refrigerated transportation market. Contact us today for a free quote.