Discover The Key Components of Reefer Containers

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Refrigerated containers

Reefer containers, known as refrigerated containers, are essential to the global supply chain for delivering perishable goods, including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, prescription drugs, and more. When products are transported in these truck containers, which maintain a regulated temperature environment, they are kept in perfect condition and have a prolonged shelf life. This blog will explore the principles of reefer containers, focusing on their application in India’s logistics and transportation sectors.

Introduction to Reefer Containers

Reefer containers are shipping truck containers with refrigeration systems integrated into them. Their main job is to maintain the products’ temperature during transportation within a predetermined range. They are crucial to global trade because they keep perishable items from deteriorating while being transported to various international markets. 

In India, these containers play a significant role in the country’s growing pharmaceutical industry, ensuring the safe transport of life-saving drugs and the substantial imports and exports of agricultural products, such as mangoes and apples.

Components of Refrigerated Trucks

These are the essential components required in a refrigerated truck:

  • Insulation Materials: Good insulation is necessary to reduce heat exchange. Typical materials include vacuum insulation panels and polyurethane foam.
  • Inner Linings: Stainless steel or aluminum are frequently used to build inside walls because they are easy to clean and do not absorb smells.
  • T-Flooring: A T-shaped floor design allows air to move beneath the weight while uniformly distributing heat.
  • Compressor: Fundamentally, the compressor in a refrigeration system compresses and recirculates the refrigerant.
  • Condenser: Releases heat into the surrounding air after the container’s interior has absorbed it.
  • Evaporator: By absorbing heat from the truck container, the evaporator reduces the temperature.
  • Control Unit: This truck container’s digital or electronic system to control its temperature and humidity is called the “control unit.”
  • External Power Sources: Reefer containers require extra power during transportation on ships and terminals. The usual places for this are power outlets at freight terminals.
  • Generator Sets (Gen Sets): Generator sets to power the reefer unit when traveling by road or in places without direct access to electricity.
  • Energy Efficiency Measures: Energy-saving measures in today’s reefers include enhanced insulation, more efficient refrigerants, and advanced temperature control systems.
  • Remote Observation: Modern reefers are equipped with devices that allow you to monitor the temperature and humidity levels remotely.
  • Data Logging: When moving goods, data loggers monitor environmental parameters like temperature and humidity, which are essential for quality assurance and traceability.
  • Alarm Systems: The built-in alarms will alert the operators if the system malfunctions or the preset temperature changes.
  • Robust locking mechanisms: To protect the goods and keep out intruders.

Types of Reefer Containers

Let’s explore the types of reefer containers in more detail, as well as what makes them unique:

1. Standard Reefer Container

  • These refrigerated containers are typically 8 feet 6 inches tall and 20 feet and 40 feet long. However, some High Cube models offer an additional foot of height in exchange for more significant space.
  • They can withstand temperatures in some models and combinations that range from around -30°C to +30°C (-22°F to +86°F).
  • They are ideal for perishable non-food goods like prescriptions susceptible to temperature fluctuations and perishable foods like fruits and vegetables.

2. Controlled Atmosphere (CA) Reefer Container

  • They are outfitted with machinery that monitors and regulates the container’s nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and oxygen concentrations.
  • They postpone ripening, allowing fruits and vegetables to maintain their freshness and quality during transportation.
  • They are handy for long-distance transportation of perishable fruits and vegetables.

3. Modified Atmosphere (MA) Reefer Container

  • Like the CA container, the Modified Atmosphere (MA) Reefer Container is distinguished by its passive technologies that maintain the environment inside the container. Because of the cargo’s respiration, the atmosphere’s composition changes biologically over time.
  • While shelf life extensions for perishable goods are possible, they are less effective than CA technology. This is among the advantages.
  • They are suitable for shipments requiring less time to reach their destination or items that don’t require careful temperature control.

4. Automatic Fresh Air Management (AFAM) Reefer Container

  • These truck containers are equipped with ventilation systems that can automatically alter the airflow into the tank based on predetermined parameters.
  • They assist in eliminating gasses that accumulate in the container, such as ethylene and carbon dioxide, keeping food fresh.
  • They are helpful for perishable items like organic fruit that leak gases during transportation.

5. Super Freezer Reefer Container

  • They can maintain a temperature of -60°C (-76°F).
  • They can maintain exceptionally low temperatures, making it perfect for shipping perishable items, including biological samples, pharmaceuticals, and fish fit for sashimi.
  • One crucial aspect of its utilization is transporting goods that must be kept at extremely low temperatures to prevent rotting and maintain quality.

6. Pharmaceutical Grade Reefer Container

  • It is outfitted with technologies for precise temperature control and monitoring to meet the stringent requirements of pharmaceutical product transportation.
  • All links in the delivery chain are subject to strict temperature restrictions, which ensure the integrity of drugs, vaccines, and other medical supplies.
  • It is ideal for pharmaceutical and healthcare products that must be transported and stored at a specific temperature.

Challenges and Solutions of Refrigerated Trucks in India

The use of refrigerated trucks in India is essential to the supply chain when it comes to transporting perishable goods. However, the business has several challenges because of the nation’s vast topography, uneven climate, and infrastructure issues. The following are some of the main problems with operating the refrigerated trucks in India, along with some potential solutions:


  1. Excessive Operating Costs: Fuel and maintenance costs for refrigerated trucks in India are higher than for non-refrigerated trucks due to the need for more fuel to maintain the temperature.
  2. Poor Infrastructure: Poor quality roads can cause delays and even damage to perishable commodities in many places in India. The cold storage facilities at the origin, destination, and on the way are insufficient.
  3. Energy Dependency: Because diesel-powered generators are a significant component of refrigerated vehicle cooling systems, fuel prices, and availability fluctuations can affect them.
  4. Skilled Manpower Shortage: Few skilled people are available to operate and maintain these refrigerated trucks in India.
  5. Issues with Compliance and Regulations: Adhering to laws and guidelines concerning food safety and standards can be complicated. Regulations governing the transportation of goods having a close expiration date vary throughout states.
  6. Environmental Concerns: Diesel-powered refrigeration systems leak carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which raises legitimate worries about the effects these systems may have on the environment.


  1. Adopting Alternative Energy Sources: Consider using refrigeration equipment powered by electricity or solar energy to reduce your dependency on diesel and operational costs.
  2. Infrastructure Improvement: Both the public and private sectors have invested in cold chain facilities and transportation infrastructure to enhance the system. The construction of dedicated routes for transporting goods that are about to expire.
  3. Advanced Technology Integration: We can track the vehicle’s location and the environmental parameters (such as temperature and humidity) within the truck container in real time by utilizing telematics and the Internet of Things. Use of artificial intelligence for predictive maintenance and route optimization.
  4. Training and Skill Development: Initiatives to create training programs that inform technicians and drivers about the difficulties of moving perishable commodities.
  5. Regulation and Policy changes: harmonizing state regulations will facilitate the cross-border movement of perishable goods. Incentives for renewable energy in the refrigerated transportation sector.


Refrigerated containers are vital in today’s global economy because they enable the shipment of perishable goods across long distances without compromising quality or freshness. Given India’s vast agricultural output and rapidly expanding pharmaceutical industry, reliable and efficient reefer logistics are more crucial than ever. Thanks to Sub Zero Reefer’s technical advancements and a growing focus on sustainability, the refrigerated containers sector is ready to take on these challenges head-on and guarantee the safe and efficient global transportation of goods sensitive to temperature.