No matter the industry, there are different ways to enhance your overall profit margin(s). One of the obvious suggestions is to simply cut your overhead cost. Another is to make sure you properly maintain your records. And as we have said numerous times, maintain your equipment.
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I can’t stress the importance of your safety rating. Your high safety standards play an important factor, as they help with insurance cost and are actually something most (if not all) potential customers will look at. We’ve also covered simple things like your tires and fuel misuse and proper monitoring and updating your data systems from hard copy to automated systems. All these little cost saving add up over the course of a busy year.
So, as you can see there are numerous ways to cut cost and save in the long run. But once you’ve nickel and dimed your budget how can you still increase your profit margin? Add more trucks and drivers? Increase your load and hauling capacity? They sound like good suggestions, don’t they? But how can you realistically do that, while maintaining a competitive edge?
One smart move would be to add reefers to your fleet. This opens the possibility to expand your overall clientele. Because no matter how well maintained and updated your equipment might be, there are simply certain products that can’t hauled in a regular dry van/box trailer.
I am sure you are familiar with the basics of a reefer trailer. But I am going to attempt to share why it might be a good idea to add these to your fleet.
This might seem like an obvious question. But really you’d be surprised just how many people don’t’ truly understand what they are. Furthermore they won’t understand their importance in the bigger picture of the commercial transportation industry. Just imagine how long a truck load of frozen meat would last in the Arizona sun, if the trailer wasn’t designed to keep things cold.
Basically a reefer trailer is a refrigeration trailer used to transport temperature sensitive products. Reefer is slang for refrigerated (though they can heat as well). The most common reefer trailers range in measurements between 48 to 55 feet (15 to 17 meters) long, hauling a variety of perishable or other products requiring their temperatures to be maintained.
The idea of keeping products cool is nothing new. Mechanical refrigeration railcars were developed back in the 1880’s (but there weren’t very reliable). Previously, perishable cargo had to be either packed in ice or they used large frozen blocks, which constantly had to be replaced at icing stations along the various routes. It wasn’t until about the mid-1920 that refrigerated trailers were in use on the regular roadways.
Well, this is good question to be asked, with a very simple answer. Looking basically, when you consider the cost of the truck, the insurance, the business operating cost, and all the related expenses, comparatively speaking not really. Like any piece of equipment the prices vary. It depends on the size, the manufacturer, when it was made, and other factors (all the extras). Keep in mind they are more costly than a regular dry van trailer. How much more? A safe estimate would say they tend to average 30% to 50% more expensive than a regular dry van trailer. New one will be much more expensive than used of course.
A thrifty shopper can find some really great deals. For example, buy last year’s model. Dealers will slash the prices on the previous year’s inventory (and it is still hasn’t been used). Then of course you can buy used from various outlets such as, dealerships, other transportation companies, and even individuals. Auctions are another option, these are run by dealers, even police impounds, and government surplus, if you have the time and patience.
The actual cost of a trailer, like I already said, varies in price depending on what you are buying. However, a ballpark figure for a trailer ranges in price from a used trailer starting at about $20,000 and up while a new trailer can be anywhere from $40,000 up to over $100,000 (depending on all the extras).
Before you break open the piggy bank, count your change, and buy one (or an entire fleet), do some research into what you’re getting. Research not only the trailer but the seller. Newer trailers are of course better than the older ones. By newer I am referring to the last decade, perhaps since 2000. Unlike the old noisy engines of the previous models, the newer reefers have better more efficient motors providing the power to the refrigeration systems.
Another great feature, the newer ones offer multi-temperature refrigeration. This means the system uses additional evaporators operating from the same power source. By doing so, you can use movable partitions, creating separate compartments, allowing for the hauling of different types of cargo. Each space can then maintain its own temperature!
Besides the multi-refrigeration systems, reefers now come equipped with warning systems. A gauge is able to display the trailer’s temperature and indicate any changes and/or issues. This alerts the driver of any problems, allowing him/her the opportunity to immediately correct the problem, instead not being aware until a fuel stop.
Everybody talks about being green this nowadays. Regardless your personal views on the issue, the newer trailers are environmentally conscious in their design. They have greatly improved their operational standards and overall efficiency, aiding in fuel economy.
One major change is getting away from Freon and using the more environmentally friendly R-134a. In the Montreal Protocol of 1987, Freon a producer of harmful, ozone-depleting CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCEC’s (hydro chlorofluorocarbons) was banned from being included on new reefer trailers. However, be aware if you purchase a used trailer, mostly pre-1966 models, they still utilize Freon, so check and see if they have been properly converted.
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