Hauling temperature-controlled loads come with its own challenges, no matter what the season. In the winter, cold weather and rapid fluctuations in outdoor temperatures can cause freight to freeze or completely ruin temp-controlled loads that include produce or pharmaceutical products. Even a temperature deviation of two degrees can potentially decrease the shelf life of freight by up to 50 percent, so ensuring that the loads you’re hauling remain at the correct temperature is vital.

Whether you’re new to hauling temperature-controlled loads or you’re an experienced driver looking for some best practices/tips, check out the top three ways you can ensure your temperature-controlled loads go as smoothly as possible.

1. Read the BOL Carefully, Confirm Details with Shipper/Broker

The BOL (bill of lading) includes the terms of service, including any special considerations regarding temperature. PFF (protect from freeze) on the BOL indicates that you need to provide the equipment/environment that protects the shipper’s freight from freezing. The shipper may have specific directions on how to protect freight from freezing, which also should be included in the BOL, as will any specific temperature or temperature range requirements.

If you have questions or aren’t sure about the requirements for a temp-controlled load, don’t hesitate to talk to the shipper/broker to get more detail. Your profit margin on the load likely depends on you delivering the freight in good condition, so a few extra minutes double-checking the required temperature with the shipper/broker can be worth it.

2. Institute a Quarterly Maintenance Plan, Use Active Alarms To Monitor Health of Temperature Control Equipment

Performing scheduled maintenance on your truck and its electronic control systems are one of the best ways to ensure your equipment is working properly. Documenting the maintenance and repair of your temperature control systems also is important in the event that you need to file an insurance claim or address any quality issues with the shipper, receiver or broker.   

Equipment fails sometimes. Knowing that your temperature control system has failed can be crucial to saving the load. Active alarms notify you immediately when malfunctions occur, which allows you to address the failure immediately. You can set active alarms to notify your dispatcher when a failure occurs, as well.

3. Document Temperature Readings with Pulp Thermometer, Secure Doc Upload Feature

Talk to any experienced reefer driver and they’ll tell you that pulping (using a pulp thermometer to check the temperature of produce), is very important. Before loading, you should check the pulp temperature of the produce on every pallet. The pulp temperature should match what’s on the BOL. If it doesn’t match, you should immediately address the temperature difference with the shipper/loader.

You also should pulp during loading and unloading.

Each time that you pulp, take a photo of the temperature reading with your smartphone. Use the document upload feature included in Trucker Tools’ driver app to create time-stamped documentation of the temperatures. You can share the uploads with your broker or shipper via Trucker Tools’ free driver app. The time-stamp on your uploaded photos can’t be altered. Uploading these time-stamped photos creates an electronic trail that provides proof of the temperature. These doc uploads can be used should any disputes arise over whether the proper temperature was maintained.

To make sure you’re protected on every load you haul, tell your broker that you want to use Trucker Tools’ driver app in your daily operations and that the driver app can be integrated with your broker’s TMS. If you’d like to learn more about how Trucker Tools’ free driver app can help you run your trucking business more efficiently and profitably, read “Trucker Tools by the Numbers.”

To download the Trucker Tools free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.