Next to the Pre-Cooling of Trailers and Loading Trailer, the Staging of Trailers in the yard is of critical importance. The staging process allows for the trailer to re-stabilize the trailers temperatures prior to delivery process. Stabilizing compartmental temperatures in the trailer helps to defer the loss of product temperature that will definitely occur during the delivery process.

staging loaded trailer

Pre-cooling, staging, and transit from the distribution yard to the first delivery stop will determine the quality of every route. The loss of stable trailers temps, in these critical first three stages of the distribution process, will initiate a condition of “thermal inertia”, which essentially causes the product to steadily lose temperature for the remainder of the delivery.

The loss of product temperature will result in loss of shelf life, impact on quality and the potential for food safety risks.

Verify the Loaded Trailer

Once the trailer is ready for staging, the Yardman/Yard Jockey needs to verify that the trailer is properly loaded, locked and assigned to a route using the following steps:

  • Verify bulkheads; straps; and load bars are all in place
  • Verify doors are properly latched and locked
  • Verify that the trailer is assigned to Route

Verify Reefer Status

The next step in the process is the verification of the reefer status. The reefer unit supplies the trailer with refrigerated air to provide protection for the products that were loaded in the previous stage.

Without proper temperature management during the distribution process, the product quality will be at risk. It is important that the reefer unit provides steady and continuous environment to support proper product temperatures.

Reefer settings are very important and often misunderstood. It is critically important to have a balance between all of the reefer settings, which include set points; mode of operation; and null settings.

The Yardman/Yard Jockey should be familiar with how to change the Set Points and the Mode of Operation to be consistent with company policy; however, the “null” or modulation setting needs to be verified to ensure that proper compartmental temperatures will be achieved.

The null setting is typically set by the factory or at time of installation of the reefer unit. The null setting determines when the reefer automatically kicks back on based upon Return Air Temp (RETA) or Discharge Air Temp (DISA).

Without a complete understanding of load requirements along with the proper combination of refer settings (set points; mode and null) will increase the likelihood of product quality problems or in-efficient use of the unit.

The Yardman/Yard Jockey should take the following steps:

  • Verify that Reefer in turned on
  • Verify Reefer Settings are appropriate for the specific load
    • Set Point
      • Discharged Air (Blowers)
      • Return Air
    • Mode of Operation
      • Contiguous
      • Cycle Sentry (Start/Stop)
    • Modulation or Null Setting
      • Check default configuration
  • Verify Fuel Level
    • Ensure reefer fuel tank is properly filled

Securing the Trailer

Door seals are a commonly used tool to validate security. Door seals have unique serial numbers or ID numbers that should be registered on each load. The basic principle is that if a door seal is missing or broken there may have been a breach of security by an un-authorized person and the load could be subject to tampering and/or theft.

  • Install Door Seals in accordance with security compliance
    • Door Seals should be installed on each door

Moving the Trailer to Staging Area

Once the loaded trailer is secured, it is ready to be moved to the staging section of the yard.

The Yardman/Yard Jockey will hook-up the trailer with a Yard Truck (Dog/Goat) and move the trailer to designated location or parking slot. The trailer should be parked so that the driver can easily pull-in, hook-up and drive off to begin his route.

Updating Dispatch with Staging Location

Once the trailer has been properly parked in the staging area, the Yardman should report the location position or parking slot # to the dispatch office.

Monitoring of Staged Trailers

It is extremely important to monitor the trailers in the staging area. Most yards have physical security i.e. gates, guards etc., however, the trailers need constant monitoring in order to secure the integrity of the content of each unit.

Real-time trailer monitoring is becoming more and more popular in the United States, especially in light of the pending Food Safety and Modernization Act. The European Union implemented a similar policy a few years ago.

Real-time telematics devices provide an excellent platform for monitoring trailers throughout the distribution process – pre-cooling, staging and delivery. During the staging process, real-time electronic verification checks include the following:

  • Fuel Levels
  • Reefer Settings
  • Location/Position (GPS)
  • Door Seals

In the event that the trailers do not have real-time telematics devices installed, the Yardman or security guards should make regular rounds to secure and verify the proper working condition of each trailer.

Dispatching of Staged Trailers

The final step in the Staging process is the dispatching of the trailer. The Driver is now on premises and receives their daily work orders and has all of the appropriate paperwork for their next route/trip.

They can now confirm the following:

  • Driver Assignment
    • Route Assignment
    • Trailer Assignment
    • Staging Location/Position

Before the Driver departs the yard, they now must complete the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR), which should include the final trailer verification of the Staging process:

  • Verify Reefer Status
  • Verify Trailer Security

Read Stage 1.Pre-Cooling Trailers Process.

Read Stage 2.Loading Trailers.

Coming next – Departure and Arrival Process for Loaded Trailers

For more information, please call 1-888-571-7466 (USA), +353 (1) 9036857 (Europe), +86 (20) 28261800 (China).

2 Responses to “Best Practices for Refrigerated Transport©. Part 3. Staging Loaded Trailers.”

  1. Toby Ryan

    I found it helpful that you brought up how failing to maintain the proper temperature levels will compromise the product that is being transported. Now that my uncle has decided to start a farm next month, he needs to find a way to transport his produce to local grocery stores without worrying about them rotting before they arrive. He should think about hiring an expert that will help him.

    • Oxana Cobbold

      Hi Toby, thank you very much for your feedback! Good luck to your uncle with his new business!


Leave a Reply