A reefer trailer is a dynamic system that uses a considerable amount of fuel to keep its load properly chilled. With gas prices being what they are today, reefer drivers are looking for ways to save money. Some drivers have opted to run the refrigeration unit in “Start/Stop” mode in an effort to reduce fuel consumption. Unfortunately for some drivers, this has proven to be a bad business decision resulting in costly cargo spoilage claims, as certain perishables require the unit to be set in “Continuous” mode to maintain consistent temperatures with minimum temperature variances.
As a reefer driver, you're in the business of keeping perishable product at the proper temperature, and spoilage can happen very quickly if required temperatures are not maintained. Don’t risk costly losses associated with spoilage. Verify and protect the cold chain of the freight. Make sure you receive the product at the proper temperature as the reefer trailer often cannot cool down the load sufficiently, and bring any concerns to the shipper. Protect perishable commodities during transport by reading the bill of lading to confirm temperature and time requirements, and adhere to those requirements while in transit.
If you want to save fuel, consider these tips instead:
Cut your top speed. When it comes to improving fuel consumption, slowing down is the easiest thing to do. Each 1 mph increase equals about 2% lower mpg. At speeds over 60 mph, fuel economy loss is greater than time savings. Higher speeds also increase engine and tire wear.
Cut unnecessary weight. Each 1,000 pounds cut improves fuel economy about 0.4%.
Keep your load height low. Unevenly distributed loads can affect the amount of effort your truck needs to get moving. By keeping your load as low and even as possible, you can improve the fuel economy.
Avoid unnecessary idling. Truck engines use about one gallon per hour.
Consider installing an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The use of an APU can lower fuel costs by up to 90% compared to idling of the main engine.
Improve your truck’s aerodynamics. An aerodynamic profile could save thousands of dollars of fuel each year over a classic long-nose tractor. Aerodynamic add-ons, such as a roof-mounted cab deflector and side fairings, can provide a 5%-7% fuel economy benefit.
Keep tires properly inflated. For each 10 psi of tire under-inflation, fuel consumption can increase by 1%- 1.5%. When your tires are properly inflated, they have a longer lifespan and provide for safer driving.
Consider low-viscosity lubricants. They can improve fuel economy about 2% -- new formulations may save up to 4%.
Adopt fuel-efficient driving and shifting techniques. To achieve maximum fuel economy, use minimum rpm, minimum power and the fewest shifts necessary when accelerating. Test after test shows you don't get up to speed any faster by "bumping the governor" because you lose time waiting for the rpm to drop between shifts.
Follow a regular preventive maintenance program. Proper vehicle maintenance provides safer transportation with fewer breakdowns, as well as better fuel mileage.
Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes fuel. It can lower your fuel mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
Even if you’re only able to implement a few of the ideas above, you're bound to save some cash and avoid the risk of cargo spoilage. While fuel costs can add up in an industry that requires a lot of pickups, deliveries, and travel time, simple solutions can make a significant difference to your bottom line.
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