Dong Fang International Containers
Dong Fang International Containers

Guidelines for Preventing Damage in Reefer Container Transport

As we all know, a large part of the claims for reefer container transportation cases comes from cargo claims, which are often caused by failure to maintain the set temperature during transportation, resulting in loss of goods. Considering the high incidence and severity of cargo claims for reefer container shipping cases, insurers are very cautious when insuring refrigerated goods, and often do not want to assume cargo liability. This article provides relevant guidance on the transportation of temperature-controlled goods in cooler shipping containers, and provides recommendations in several aspects as follows to assist the owners of reefer container ships to protect their goods during transportation.


Reefer Container Loading and Transportation Guidelines


  • The ship should be equipped with specialized refrigeration spare parts, tools and maintenance manuals for refrigeration equipment. When emergency repairs are required during the voyage, these tools and facilities should be used by the ship's engineer. Different types of refrigeration equipment have their own repair and maintenance characteristics.

  • The supply of the refrigerant carried should be determined based on the types and quantities of cooler shipping containers carried on board.

  • Before transporting cooler shipping containers, it is essential to obtain detailed instructions from the consignor regarding all transportation conditions, including temperature, ventilation, and humidity requirements. International cold chain technology provides guidance on transportation conditions on its website.

  • If the ship loads cargo in the loading port, an inspector should be assigned to monitor the temperature of the cargo upon arrival and note any details that do not comply with the instructions.

  • Reefer storage containers should strictly comply with any special requirements for refrigerated transportation specified in the lease agreement, such as monitoring regulations, repair requirements, and notifying parties in the event of failure, and appropriate instructions should be given to the ship in writing.


Reefer Container Temperature and Defrosting


During operation of refrigeration equipment, a layer of ice forms on the evaporator coil, which depends on the set temperature, cargo temperature, amount of fresh air supplied by the ventilation system, and cargo humidity. The refrigeration system periodically enters a defrosting state, during which a series of electric heating devices generate heat or blow hot air into the evaporator coil. All fans stop rotating at this time to prevent hot air from entering the cargo hold. However, this temperature increase near the temperature sensor of the return air may be recorded. Therefore, unless processed by data recording software, temperature records will show a periodic temperature increase consistent with the defrost interval. If the defrost period is short, there may be some variation between hourly temperature readings and defrost periods.


Note that the increase in temperature readings does not immediately affect the actual temperature of the goods, nor does it mean that the refrigeration system is unstable. In addition to temperature, electronic data recorders usually display the defrost interval and duration. If the loading temperature exceeds the set temperature, the refrigeration system of the reefer container will automatically reduce the temperature of the goods to the required temperature level. If the goods have already thawed, the refrigeration system will attempt to lower the temperature of the goods, but frequent defrost cycles will occur.


Reefer Container Temperature Records


The data logger monitors the supply air and return air temperatures of the refrigerated cargo hold, and this data is stored in electronic memory. The memory also records pre-trip inspection results, alarm conditions, and a series of data exchanges between the controller and the power system. This data can be directly downloaded to a computer for printing, storage, or email as an attachment. If the data logger is able to record "trip start" information, this information should include the origin and destination of the cargo. At the same time, the date and time information should be checked for accuracy.