Reefer vs Box Van

To continue with our “trucking lesson” of yesterday 😀 I thought I’d give you a little more information about the tractor trailers you encounter in your daily commute.

Let’s start with the Reefers.

The refrigeration unit at the front of the trailer is like a giant sized window air conditioner.  This unit cools to freezing temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit and below, depending on the product being hauled.  Most loads are set at 32 degrees.

Think about your local grocery store and how it is laid out.  Starting with the produce section. If you remember back in late May and early June of this year we were in Northern California and I showed pictures of the workers in the fields.  Most of the machinery is set up to enable the workers to cut the lettuce heads, clean the outer leaves off, wrap the lettuce in plastic, then it is placed on a conveyor belt and moved up into the part of the machine where packaging is done.  People up inside the machine put the wrapped heads of lettuce in boxes then tape the boxes closed when they are filled.

All of the produce you get at your store starts its journey from a field where it is harvested, or an orchard.  Once the boxes are filled they are then set aside and stacked.  The next step in the harvest is to get the boxed produce to the loading area where the boxes are stacked on pallets, wrapped with plastic to secure the boxes, then loaded into a trailer.  Once the trailer is fully loaded it takes the produce to a warehouse where the pallets are unloaded from the truck and the driver goes back for more.

At the warehouse the produce is then stored in sections – lettuce in one area and tomatoes in another.  All produce is separated by its kind within these cavernous buildings.

Your grocer will place an order for produce through their local distributor.  This local distributor then combines all of the orders from all the grocery stores they deal with in your city or town and calculates how much of each produce item will need to be shipped to the distribution center.  This then gets sent to the manufacturer, or the giant warehouse where the produce is  now stored.  They have people that spend their work days as “Pickers”.  These Pickers get a computerized list telling how many pallets of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other produce to put on which trailer.  The trailer is loaded and ready for the truck driver to take the trailer to another warehouse where the load will be stored then later split and loaded into yet another truck that will make its way to your grocery store with the order that had been placed earlier.

There are distribution centers all over the United States that handle all of your foods.  All dairy products, produce, packaged meats, cheeses are done in the same manner.  They start life out from a manufacturer or field then are stored in a giant warehouse where they are broken down into the next smallest size and shipped to another distribution center, then broken down further to get to your store where you then purchase your food items and take them home.

Box Vans are the same as a Reefer except they are not refrigerated.  Box Vans will haul cooking oil, sugar, flour, cookies, crackers, and other dry items that don’t need to be refrigerated.

Box Vans will also carry a load of cookware, pots and pans, or bake ware like Anchor Hocking or Pyrex dishes for you to cook your sumptuous meals.  Box Vans also will carry diapers, baby wipes, clothing, shoes, shampoo, deodarant, hair products.

When you go to any of your local stores to purchase items for your cooking or personal needs you can, generally, figure out if it came in a Reefer or a Box Van.  If it is perishable, it came in a Reefer; if it is a dry product that does not need refrigeration, it came in a Dry Van.

As you drive around your state on major highways look for a building that sprawls on forever, seemingly.  One that has a lot of trailers parked around the buildings perimeter.  That will be a distribution center.  Wal-Mart has many of these distribution centers and can easily be identified by their trucks, trailers, and the sheer size of the building.

Everything you purchase from Wal-Mart has been on the road a few times before it finally gets to your store.  Starting out at the manufacturer, then delivered to the Wal-Mart Distribution Center.  Each one of the trailers you see parked around the building has brought goods to the distribution center and are awaiting to be filled and taken to your grocery store.  Walgreens has large distribution centers as well.

Furniture stores, like Ashley’s, will carry their manufactured products in a Dry Van.  Best Buy, Macy’s, Dillards, Sears, JC Penny, and other mall stores will have their products delivered in Dry Vans.

So, if you have been behind a tractor trailer at a traffic light, or on the highway somewhere, it is delivering the goods you need for your home and life to a distribution center or store near you.

This is the end of today’s lesson on the trucking industry 😀  Bet you are glad this is over 😀

Joe and I made it to Barstow, California – Yippee Skippy – last night.  We will be heading to Santa Nella (Gustine), California for tonight and delivering these trucks tomorrow.  Three weeks and these problem children will finally be at their new homes – and we will be done with them!

Have an excellent day.



About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

6 responses to “Reefer vs Box Van

  • Jann Gray

    I love “trucker school” with Leslie! I don’t think we stop often enough and think through the PROCESS of how the things we need and use every day get to us…it’s like MAGIC…*poof* there they are! In reality, there are many people’s who’s livelihoods depend on the process…and if our country is going to recover economically, we all have to be more attuned to this process and help make it work!

    Thus ends Jann’s economic lesson! Aren’t you glad!?! LOL

    Hugs and safe journey…and may you never see those problem children again!

    • Message In A Fold

      Great lesson from you, Jann, as well. We all need to be (myself included) more informed about our daily lives and the things we do and purchase.

      Glad you enjoyed this post.

      Love you – Leslie

  • Pati Mishler

    Ok, i understand the difference, makes sense. I will be glad when you get rid of your problem children. And then you hopefully will never see those particular children again. lol. Stay safe in California, also enjoy yourself when you can. Love you sis.

    • Message In A Fold

      Thanks Sis for checking out these two posts.

      You used to work in a grocery store and some dealings with the ordering process. You also got to be there when the truck showed up to deliver. Then you got to be one of several putting the perishables in the walk-in freezers or refrigerator then later get the shelves and bins stocked. 🙂

      So between the two of us we can talk like we know what we’re talking about :D. Even if we don’t 😀

      Love you Sis

  • gardenpinks

    So glad those problem children are almost at their new home and you will see the last of them. That will be a red flag day for you both and I bet you will heave great sighs of relief too 🙂

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      OMG! Now we are 97 – 96.4 to be exact – miles away from delivery and this truck I’m driving is starting the trouble all over again. It ain’t going nowhere!

      I’m so fed up with this trip I could pull my hair out.

      When we do get these delivered I’m going to do the “Happy Dance”. I think we will switch out Joe’s back truck for this bedeviled one. I’ll drive Joe’s back truck and he will tow this one.

      Seriously, there is more than ONE gremlin in the works here.

      Love you – Leslie

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