How Do Refrigerated Trucks Work?

Refrigerated trucks are a wonderful thing. They’re why ice cream is even possible as a summer snack. However, refrigeration is also a counterintuitive thing. Why? Well, because you can’t actually “make cold”. So, how exactly do some pipes and fans seem to do just that? This article will try to answer that question in simple terms. Not too much science! Promise.

The answer is all to do with a simple insight: the air inside the fridge or freezer van has had its heat moved outside. This is done by using a special fluid called refrigerant. Through controlling how it turns from liquid to gas and back, you can make it absorb heat from inside the refrigerated space. Then you circulate it outside where it loses that heat to the atmosphere. Let’s look closer.

Insulating For Cold

First, to create a cold environment, you have to have an airtight space that’s insulated to stop temperature outside affecting the temperature inside. In refrigerator trucks, this insulation is usually made of multiple layers where thin panels sandwich thicker layers of low-density material similar to styrofoam.

Pressure, Gas And Absorption

Now, a little science: technically, heat is a measure of how fast molecules of something are vibrating at a microscopic level. Less vibration = less energy = less temperature. While it is simple to add more energy to something (you can warm your hands up just by rubbing them together), it’s much harder to remove heat. Refrigeration gets around this problem by using refrigerant to absorb the heat inside the van and then pumping it through pipes that are exposed to the outside so the external environment can absorb it in turn.

A Three-Stage Process

There are three main mechanical components in the refrigeration cycle mentioned above. And moving between them all is the refrigerant. This special fluid has a very low boiling point, often around 4 degrees C (water boils at 100 degrees C). So yes, when refrigerant boils it’s cold to the touch. Keep that in mind as we look at how the basic cycle works.

1. Condenser – Sending Cold Higher-Density Refrigerant To The Evaporator

The condenser is the complex pipework surrounded by thin metal fins you’ll see on the exterior of the refrigeration unit. The condenser is fed from the compressor with refrigerant in its gaseous state. As the gas arrives in the condenser pipes, it’s exposed to the temperature difference between its own temperature and the temperature of the outside atmosphere. Because temperatures always try to balance, the outside atmosphere quickly sucks the excess heat out of the fluid. As the fluid cools, it becomes a liquid (which has higher density than a gas) and moves onto the next stage…

2. Evaporator – Sending Hot Low-Density Gas To The Compressor

This is the part of the cooling system inside the fridge: the bit most people think of as “making cold”. The refrigerant arrives in the evaporator in its liquid state (i.e. below 4 degrees). As the air inside the space flows over the evaporator coils and fins, it tries to heat the fluid up by passing energy through the metal. As the refrigerant picks up heat, it boils (at 4 degrees) and expands inside the pipes, turning into gas. This gas, still trapped in the pipes, then moves to the third part…

3. Compressor – Sending Cool High-Pressure Refrigerant Gas To The Condenser

The compressor – mounted outside the cool compartment – can be thought of as the heat absorber. The refrigerant gas is drawn into the compressor and is, you guessed it, pressurised. Essentially, the gas is pumped into a space that causes its molecules to cram together. This process slows the vibration of the gas molecules thus releasing the heat energy. The gas now heads to the condenser to become a liquid and go around the circuit again.

That’s Pretty Cool

When installed on an insulated truck, the three components can quickly move heat from the inside to the outside. The main factors in how cold the inside can get are the insulation’s quality, the power of the components and the refrigerant’s formulation. Ramp everything up and the refrigerator becomes a freezer.

However cold you want things, the essential function is the same right across the cold chain where chilled warehouses pack refrigerated shipping containers and refrigerated trucks. And it’s the cold chain we have to thank for transporting anything that would perish if it heated up. This could be meat, cut flowers, medical supplies and, yes, ice cream.

Driving Tips for Long Haul Truck Driving

Long haul truck driving seems like a difficult job for most people. But for some of us, managing these large, heavy vehicles and life on the road is our specialty. So, if you are a novice long-haul-truckie, welcome to the club, and to start you off, here are 5 tips on how to maintain the trucks you drive, stay healthy and remain alert on long drives.

1.Know The Truck’s Payload Capacity

A truck’s payload capacity is the sum of its curb weight and all the cargo weight that can be safely carried by your truck. This information is usually calculated by the truck manufacturer and noted in the vehicle’s manual. As a truck driver, it is imperative that you always check the load weight vis–vis the payload capacity of the type of truck. Do not exceed the truck’s payload capacity, especially on long drives.

2.Secure Load Properly

As a truck driver, your job is to transport cargo. Now, what good will it be if the cargo you are transporting arrives at the destination destroyed? Not to mention that unsecured cargo can shift during transportation, causing damage to the axles of the truck, may lead to dangerous accidents or result in you being fined. Therefore, when loading cargo to your truck, you should always confirm that the goods are evenly distributed and secured with ties, tarps, or containers. Before getting on your long drive, always double-check your load and ensure it is adequately secured.

3.Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

On a long drive, water should be your best friend. Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and considerably reduce your chances of getting fatigued fast. It is important to note that caffeinated or soft drinks should not be taken in place of water. This is because even though they will be effective in giving you an energy boost, you will eventually come down from that high, and when you do, your body will be ready to crash leaving you feeling even more tired.

4.Less Fast Food, More Healthy Food

If you want a long successful career in long haul truck driving, then you must make an effort to be healthy. And while fast foods can be very tempting, mainly because they are readily available at numerous stopovers, they are the enemy to staying alert. Fast foods contain a lot of fats and sugars, which will make you sleepy over your long drive. To have a clear focus during a journey, you should prioritize consuming healthy food options, as well as add vitamin B and C supplements to your diet to give you the much-needed energy boosts.

5.Pullover And Rest

Arrive Alive. These two words should be a constant mantra in your career of long haul truck driving. So if you find yourself feeling drowsy, pull over and stop. Take a nap of about 20 minutes, take a walk to stretch your legs, or get a bite. Whatever you choose to do to refresh your body is up to you, but please do not get back on the wheel until you are back to being alert. Sleeping on the wheel endangers not only your life but also the lives of other road users. You got this! Now go discover some new destinations.

The 5 Best Mobile Apps for Truck Drivers in 2019

Our smartphones are capable of almost anything these days. More and more, we are relying on them to help ourselves and our businesses save time and money. There are thousands of apps out there on the market, with hundreds of tailor-made apps to help truck drivers on their day to day.

We asked our Southern Cross Truck Rental customers which apps they thought were most useful for truck drivers, and these are the 5 that came up trumps.

Truckie’s Mate

This free app is the Swiss army knife of apps – there is a function for almost every possible need while you are out on the road. Not only does the app have a comprehensive truck stop finder for each state, it also has an accident help feature for drivers that allows you to capture any crucial accident information and store it for reporting later, and a lot of useful information on fatigue and road laws in each state. It really is a truck driver’s best friend!

Fuelly: MPG & Service Tracker

Fuelly helps you to save money by keeping track of your truck’s fuel economy. Tracking the kilometer/liter data and watching the graphs populate is as simple as logging the kilometers, the amount of fuel you put in, and the per liter cost each time you fill up. As well as fuel economy, the app can help you keep track of maintenance records. You can set separate reminders for each maintenance task such as oil changes and tire rotations, and you even have the option to store photos and PDF’s as needed.

SmartTruckRoute 2

Nobody wants to be the truck driver that resets the counters on the Montague St or Bayswater bridges. With the SmartTruckRoute 2 app, you can easily avoid the cost and embarrassment of such accidents. The app allows you to track the perfect route by navigating away from low bridges, narrow streets and residential areas. It updates maps hourly too, so you know you are always getting up to date traffic information. While the app is free to install, there are in-app purchases for access to different maps and features.

Test Your Tired Self

An initiative of Transport for NSW, Test Your Tired Self helps drivers to determine their level of fatigue. For truck drivers on long haul journeys, an app like this is invaluable. To determine your fatigue levels, the app puts a series of questions and fun puzzles in front of you. Depending on your score, you can then establish whether you need to take a break or can continue on on your journey.


If you are spending a lot of time on the road, you need all the entertainment you can get. Those long drives can get pretty lonely! Keep yourself engaged by listening to hours on end of all your favourite music, podcasts and even comedy shows on the Spotify app. In order to get the ability to download playlists and listen to them offline, sign up to the Premium version which is only $11.99/month and well worth it.

Looking for a reliable rental truck company near Sydney? The friendly experts at Southern Cross Truck Rentals will be happy to provide you with quotes, advice and options. Just contact us to find out more.

4 Actionable Tips for Truck Drivers to Save Money on Fuel Costs

According to Australia’s leading truck insurance provider, National Transport Insurance, there are over 500,000 registered trucks in Australia which cover over 17 billion kilometres a year. With the Australian trucking industry revenue set to hit $60 billion by 2020/21 and operators have spent 45 to 50% of their revenue on fuel in the past (during periods of high crude oil prices), the importance of controlling fuel costs can’t be overlooked. In fact, it can be the difference between profit and loss for players in the trucking business. So, here are 4 actionable tips that professional truck drivers in Australia NSW can implement to improve fuel economy.

Improve truck aerodynamics

Trucks have a massive surface area which exposes them to more aerodynamic drag when compared to smaller vehicles. Aerodynamic drag is; the resistance exerted by air on a moving object. Trucks consumer a lot of fuel as they “fight” air resistance. However, this resistance can be reduced by improving a truck’s aerodynamics.

It is possible to save 50% of the fuel consumed using this tip according to a study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Improving truck aerodynamics is as simple as using a roof-mounted cab deflector, sun visor or deep angled bumper to deflect air that hits the windscreen. Installing side fairings can help to improve aerodynamics underneath a truck.

Know your truck

Besides aerodynamics, a truck’s fuel consumption is also dictated by the type of fuel used. Different trucks have different octane level recommendations. Sticking to the right level will boost fuel economy. It’s also important to service the truck regularly. Changing the oil as well as tuning the engine periodically has been proven to offer better mileage. Tires should also be inflated and aligned accordingly. In fact, studies have shown that a simple maintenance practice such as inflating vehicle tires correctly can improve fuel economy by 10%. Given there are many truck models in Australia most of which are different, the importance of knowing your truck can’t be overlooked when looking to improve fuel economy.

Drive responsibly

This tip isn’t just for truck drivers. How you drive determines your fuel costs. Driving behaviour such as sticking to speed limits, using cruise control, avoiding unnecessary idling and preventing sudden stops/starts are examples of good driving behaviour that can help truck drivers improve fuel economy. Other responsible driver behaviours include; switching off the A/C periodically and proper planning (to avoid traffic). For instance, monitoring traffic conditions ahead of time can help in anticipating acceleration/braking. Trucks consume fuel better when they keep moving as opposed to when they are starting from a complete stop repeatedly. Proper planning can help a truck driver anticipate gear changes ahead of time-saving a lot of fuel in the process given, the fewer the fear changes, the better. It can also help avoid congestion. All these and more has been studied and proven to boost fuel efficiency.

Drive intelligently

You can use your truck’s momentum to get over hills without using a lot of fuel. Momentum can also be utilised to “roll to a halt” in traffic. Accelerating only when it’s absolutely necessary can result in huge savings. Most trucks today only consume fuel when you accelerate. Using momentum translates to lower fuel costs and less braking. If you must brake, you can use the exhaust braking system over the regular foot brake to reduce fuel costs and prolong the “life” of your brakes.

You can brake as well as clutch intelligently. Double-clutching isn’t necessary with most modern trucks. Besides damaging the gearbox, it also wastes fuel. Clutching intelligently also includes minimizing gear changes and skipping gears if possible. Every upward gear change boosts fuel economy by approximately 30%. Too much revving increases fuel consumption and wear on the engine. Keeping your engine revs low is a great way to save fuel.

Truck drivers can improve fuel economy by putting any one or more of the above tips into practice. There are studies backing the importance of aerodynamics, driving responsibly, driving intelligently and knowing your truck when looking to improve fuel economy. Besides saving on fuel, the above tips will also offer added benefits such as reducing the carbon footprint.

Contact Southern Truck Cross Rentals for more information on our trucks’ fuel efficiency.

Does it cost more to move house yourself or hire a removalist?

When you’re moving house, even if it’s to the next suburb, it can be a complicated chore. There is just so much to consider. High among the factors is cost. Of course, you want the most cost-effective choice, but you also want the certainty of knowing your possessions are in good hands and that the inevitable moving-day delays aren’t going to blow your budget.

At Southern Cross Truck Rentals we have a decade of helping people move by themselves. In fact, we have become so good at it that we offer you a handy Moving Truck Volume Calculator for free. Just choose what stuff you have to shift and it’ll return a reliable estimate of what size of moving truck or van will suit you. If you’d like more details, just read on.

Moving a studio apartment

The typical amount of furnishings in a small apartment will fit into a standard commercial delivery van, the sort that can be driven on a normal car licence. We offer a selection of these such as our own 1-tonne Toyota HiACe and 1.5-tonne Mercedes Sprinter vans. A normal amount of furniture for a studio apartment is:

  • 1 double or queen bed
  • 1 bookcase
  • 1 couch
  • 1 dining table and 2 chairs
  • 1 desk and 1 chair
  • A few boxes of miscellaneous household items.

This much furniture is usually quite easy for two people to load and unload to and from a van. If you’re moving to a new place in the same city, then half a day is a reasonable timeframe to expect – depending on traffic.

  • Drive-yourself van hire: $70 per day
  • Removalists average 4 hours to move a studio: expect $360

Moving a small family home

Of course, a 2-bedroom cottage or apartment will include much more furniture than a studio. With the second bedroom and more living space, shifting the furnishings of this type of home often takes twice as long and requires a vehicle with twice the volume as needed for a simple studio apartment. A normal amount of furniture in a small home includes:

  • Main bedroom: queen bed, dresser/wardrobe, chair
  • Second bedroom: single bed, dresser/wardrobe, bookcase and chair
  • Living room: lounge, armchair, TV, entertainment unit, bookcase, coffee table, sideboard
  • Kitchen/dining: fridge, microwave, dining table with 4-6 chairs
  • Some gardening equipment
  • Miscellaneous household items in a few boxes
  • Perhaps a pushbike.

This amount of furnishings usually fits neatly into a 3-tonne pantech moving truck. Able to be driven on a normal car licence, these small trucks have optional tail lifts that can safely raise or lower up to half a tonne. Bed-base too heavy for you? It won’t be for the tail lift!

  • Drive-yourself 3-tonne truck hire: $125 per week day or $320 for a whole weekend
  • Removalists average 8 hours to move a small home: expect $720

Moving a whole family home

It’s true that the average Aussie family home is larger than ever. Houses today are nearly 40% bigger than they were in the early 1980s and people naturally tend to fill the space they have. This means that the typical couple with 2.3 kids will simply have a lot of stuff. If this is you, you’ll have this much, at least:

  • Main bedroom: queen bed, dresser/wardrobe, bookcase and chair
  • Each additional bedroom: single or double bed, dresser/wardrobe, bookcase, desk and chair
  • Living rooms: two lounge suites, two armchairs, two TVs and entertainment units, two coffee tables, multiple bookcases/sideboards
  • Kitchen/dining room: fridge, freezer, microwave, dining table with 8 chairs
  • Artworks: between 5 and 20 pieces
  • Gardening and/or pool equipment
  • Miscellaneous household items
  • Multiple pushbikes.

As well as much more time to pack and unpack this stuff, it requires a much bigger vehicle. A 6-tonne or 8-tonne pantech truck will be a good match. It’s not the necessarily the weight (that’s just how truck categories are named) – no, what you need to move a family home is cargo volume. And these vehicles have that in spades.

Trucks of this size are, however, too large to be driven on a standard car licence and will require a properly accredited driver. We’re happy to supply one. Even when you choose to use a staff driver from Southern Cross Truck Rentals to operate your moving truck, you can still expect to come out ahead over choosing a removalist to do it all for you.

  • Drive-yourself 6-tonne truck hire: $430 for a whole weekend, plus driver hire (if needed)
  • Removalists average more than 1 full working day to move a full family home: expect $1000-plus

How smoothly will my move really go?

Once you know how big the vehicle you need will be, the next most important factor is time. When we talk to our clients about their moving plans we ask them their expected timeline. Our reply when they tell us is often ‘you’ll need half as much time again, plus a bit more’.

The unexpected delays that can occur with what needs to be moved, where it needs to go, how it’ll get there and who will do it could fill a book. We’ve been helping people move for more than 10 years and sometimes even we are still surprised by the complications people run into.

This is an important point too, because home removal services typically charge by the half hour. This means if they face complications – such as heavy traffic – they just keep on billing. But when you hire a drive-yourself truck, you can control this cost much more easily – especially when we help you make a realistic estimate of what you’ll need and how long things will really take.

Packing materials

Of course, there’s much more to moving house than just trucks and timelines. Actually, for most people, the move begins weeks or months in advance when they begin packing up their belongings. It is a time-consuming and emotional process – certainly not something to be rushed through on the last day.

To safely shift all your stuff, you’ll need:

  • boxes
  • tape
  • tie-downs
  • ropes
  • padding
  • blankets
  • trolleys.

It can be pretty expensive to buy it all – especially if it is only going to be used once. At Southern Cross Truck Rentals, we keep a large stock of moving supplies available for you to hire temporarily. After you’ve moved in there’s no need to find a place to store all the empty boxes and moving accessories either, you can just leave them in the truck for when it’s returned.

Drive yourself and save

Our advice on all the points in this article is available free and with no obligation. All you have to do is call us up and let us know your plans. We’ll be happy to help.

For additional information, read our rough guide about what truck size your need.

Don’t buy! Hiring a delivery van for your business makes sense

Renting a delivery van for your business can really be the smart option. It extends your operational capabilities without building in ongoing overheads.

If you’re still small, it’s the occasional workhorse that lets you fill a big order. If you’re serving a seasonal crowd, it means you don’t have unused capital equipment depreciating throughout the slack time. If your own vehicle is off the road, it is the backup that keeps things rolling. Let’s look at delivery van hire in a little more detail.

On-road capacity on demand

One of the biggest hurdles in business are the upfront costs you need to spend to have a chance to grow. You need capital equipment to get new business, but you need new business to fund the capital equipment!

Too often this means that, as business lack capacity, their opportunities go begging. However, it also doesn’t make sense to own a lot of equipment if it’s just there on hope. In the case of a commercial vehicle, paying for rego, loans and insurance on a vehicle you are not deriving full benefit from is dead money.

This is why it can make sense to rent. While every business is different and has unique needs, hiring a delivery van – and, if need be, a driver – to make your business more mobile, replace a downed unit in your existing fleet or just to ship an unusually big order can be the smartest move. You’re accessing the capacity you need to grow, not stuck in the common small business trap of trading just to cover too many overheads.

Why businesses need to hire a van

Ranging from car-like load-luggers up to bigger units that rival small trucks, a rented van means flexibility.

From our 20 years of experience, we have identified three main categories of businesses looking to hire a delivery van instead of buying one: repeat, occasional and replacement. Which one are you?

  • Repeat van rental – These are businesses that know when they will need a van in advance. It’s often for regular or repeat bookings, but those bookings are too far apart (such as businesses that only trade heavily during school holidays) or where their operations are too small to fund owning a van (such as stallholders at weekend markets).
  • Occasional van rentals – These are businesses that are doing something new. Examples of this are that they are attending a trade show or filling an unusually large order. If you’re attending a trade show, you’ll know what you need well in advance, but if you’re filling a large order you might just need the van as soon as possible!
  • Replacement – These are businesses that already have their own delivery vehicles, but for whatever reason they need to replace one. Perhaps your usual work van has broken down or is being sold. Closely related to replacement are those businesses that temporarily need something larger than their usual fleet units.

Why rent a delivery van over renting a truck

At first glance, vans and trucks seem like they do exactly the same job, but there are important differences in how they move cargo from A to B. Vans offer many unique advantages:


  • Higher security – vans are fully lockable and use the integrated security systems of a purpose-built vehicle
  • Full weather protection – all cargo is kept clean and out of the elements inside the vehicle
  • Easier to manoeuvre – more car-like dimensions and handling mean vans are easier to park in tight areas like markets and inner-city loading zones
  • Easier to unload – vans have side and rear access and a low loading height
  • Climate controlled interior – the load space of a van can be kept at the same temperature as the cab, important for perishable stock
  • Higher comfort for long-distance trips – often based around a passenger vehicle platform, vans are more refined on long journeys than trucks.

If gross cargo capacity is not the controlling factor for you, then a van is usually the best commercial vehicle choice. They are perfect for transporting non-palletised, fragile, expensive, or awkward loads such as:

  • Food, flowers and wine
  • Furniture, artworks and antiques
  • Clothing and clothing racks
  • Valuable electronics and tools
  • Printed materials and promotional items.

Renting a van for your business

Whether you have a recurring need, a once-off need or you’re replacing one of your own fleet, renting a van is a great value-conscious choice.

Simply, if you need to safely haul equipment, stock or raw materials and then unload them easily, a van is your best bet.

When you hire one, always choose a trustworthy vehicle rental company that specialises in commercials. They’re the experts who’ll make it simple.Choose a company like Southern Cross Truck Rentals next time you are hiring a van.

Contact Southern Cross Truck Rentals today to find out more about van hire.