Refrigerated vehicles play a key role in the food and drink industry, as they allow produce to be transported from one location to another while remaining fresh and fit for sale. And it’s big business – the worldwide industry is predicted to be worth $160 billion (£130 million) by 2027.

The consequences of something going wrong during the transportation process are vast and varied. Not only could it lead to a significant waste of produce if it is no longer fresh, but it could cause the company financial and reputational damage as well as harm their relationship with the client.

All businesses should have a transport insurance policy in place to offer an additional layer of protection in these circumstances, but it always makes sense to understand the common risks and challenges of running such an operation.

Employee safety

The Health and Safety Executive has published detailed guidelines on how to work with refrigerated vehicles. It’s a comprehensive document that covers elements including the storage of refrigerant chemicals, staff training, personal protective equipment, repairs, maintenance and more. All staff – whether they be drivers or anyone else involved in the transportation process – should be fully aware of these regulations, as failure to adhere to them could result in serious injury or damage to stock.

Faulty sensors

All vehicles should be fitted with sensors to inform staff of the temperature in the storage unit. However, if these sensors are not working properly then major issues could go undetected for long periods of time and may only become evident at the end of the journey. This could result in the produce no longer being fit for the client’s needs. For example, if raw meat or fish has gone off because the sensors failed to pick up that the temperature was not cool enough, the client will be unable to sell the food on to their customers.

Leaks or tears

And similar issues can arise if there are leaks or tears in the equipment, which must be tightly sealed in order to preserve the consistently low temperatures that are required. Great care must be taken when loading and securing the vehicle, because any sharp objects can cause perforations that could lead to spoiled produce. And regular checks of the vehicle should be carried out because over time natural wear and tear can lead to holes and leaks.